For nine years, Disarray guitarist, frontman, and founder Chuck Bonnett has lived for his band’s brand of raw, intense heavy metal. It’s in his blood. Bonnet and his bandmates – drummer Shane Harmon and bassist Vance Wright – have actively toured the country, building up a strong following independently and without major support. Now these road dogs have unleashed their third full-length album In The Face Of The Enemy, which was produced by GWAR frontman Dave “Oderus Ungerus” Brockie. The new CD combines bellowing vocals and musical brutality with refined precision and melodic, old school sensibilities, which will maintain the trio’s underground credibility even as it generates waves for the band towards a bigger audience.
While Disarray’s music is aggressive, Bonnet’s lyrics express optimism in the face of adversity (albeit with a dash of cynicism). It’s a theme he’s well acquainted with, having spent his life pursuing his musical dreams. “When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was make albums and go on tour, and I’m doing it now,” he says. “As rough as it gets, your worse day on tour is better than your best day punching the clock, so I’m enjoying it.” Songs like “To This Day,” “Powers That Be,” and “I’ll Be Standing” (which features a guest appearance by GWAR axeman Balsac The Jaws Of Death) deal with going against the grain, overcoming monetary disadvantage, and sticking to one’s guns even when others disapprove. “We’ve always been the underdogs,” Bonnett declares. “That’s what keeps the fire burnin’ in our gut. Being from Tennessee, it’s already a given stereotype that we’re going to suck or that we’re a bunch of barefoot rednecks that can’t play, but we’ve turned it to our advantage.”
Even amidst the optimism of many Disarray songs, however, exist lyrics expressing a stark sense of realism that many fans connect with. During the turbulent “Depths Of The Wreckage,” Bonnett describes how his idealistic childhood notions of “you get what you give, you get what you earn” have been over-ridden by American corporate greed. On the groove-heavy “Voice Of Reason,” he shouts: “Just because I scream, doesn’t mean I’m crazy / I’m just relieving stress from my poor mind / Just because I’m alone, doesn’t mean I’m lonely / I’ve got the same number of friends as my back’s got knives.” To usurp listeners’ expectations, Disarray ends their new album with the surprisingly bluesy and acoustic “Life Is Gone”. “That’s one of the reasons we put it on there, because it’s unpredictable,” affirms Bonnett. “People wouldn’t expect it after hearing the first ten songs. I actually played it on acoustic just to show the band, with no intention of it actually being on a record, and they said: ‘We’ve got to use that!'”
They sent the demo to their producer Dave Brockie, who was very excited by the song. “He was like: ‘Man, that has got to be on the record, because you guys have a lot of Southern influence, and that’s a whole different dimension of the band.'” Disarray may be a fiercely heavy band, but Bonnett often plays melodic leads to provide a sense of balance. It’s an approach that is uncommon with today’s young rage bands that generally rely on attitude rather than agility. Disarray hooked up with Brockie after they toured with his side band The Dave Brockie Experience for a week in 2001. The boys bonded on the road, and Brockie insisted Disarray come to the Slave Pit in Antarctica so he could produce their new album. “It turned out better than we expected, ” says Bonnet. “GWAR even took us on tour!”
Like GWAR, the members of Disarray have a mischievous sense of humor. “We throw ‘Freebird’ in every now and then just to scare people,” reveals Bonnett. “We do the whole song, as much as you can with a three-piece line-up. We add death metal vocals, and it’s tuned to drop C, so it’s not the traditional version.” That will be a lesson to any wise-ass that calls out for it! “We shut ’em up pretty fast,” claims Bonnett. “The first time we ever did that was probably 1997 at a club in New Jersey, and you could hear a pin drop by the end. The crowd was just stunned.”
Bonnett has traveled a long, winding road during Disarray’s nine-year existence, and along his journey he has recorded an abundance of songs. In 1995, Disarray self-released its debut album Widespread Human Disaster. The band followed it up with 1996’s Bleed. In 1998, after hooking up with Eclipse Records (the label that launched Mushroomhead to prominence), Disarray compiled two demos for their inaugural Eclipse release, 1999’s Less Than Respect. Through strong word-of-mouth in the underground, these independent releases racked up sales of 10,000 units. Since 1999, Disarray has contributed to seven tribute records and numerous compilations before finally returning to the studio last year to record In The Face Of The Enemy. Bonnett feels it is the band’s best album, for it is the first where they recorded the music they wanted to, without any outside considerations whatsoever. In other words, this album is pure, unfiltered Disarray.
Like his hero, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Chuck Bonnett has been the driving force behind his own band. Since the addition of Peridore and Wright in the fall of 2000, Disarray has played shows with the likes of Biohazard, Mushroomhead, Hatebreed, and Clutch. The Tennessee headbangers call the road home, and they don’t mind roughing it. “We like cold raviolis, straight out of the can,” remarks Bonnett, only half-jokingly. “What’s around the van right now…we’ve got five cases of bottled water, got some Girl Scout cookies, four cases of beer courtesy of the club.” And what does Bonnett do with his time off from touring? “Whenever I’m not on the road, I sell stuff on eBay to keep the light bill paid,” he quips. The guitarist observes that touring is like a way of life, and it’s one his band will continue to follow. “It’s the punk rock ethic,” Bonnet remarks. “We spare the luxuries and just try to keep as much money as we can in our pocket. It’s like a camping trip, but with guitars. This is heavy metal. We don’t want to get to the point where we’re spoiled, because then you lose the energy.”