Interview: Kelvin Morris, Discharge

Rising like a phoenix, Stoke-On-Trent's Punk/Rock heroes and music pioneers DISCHARGE are back. Two original members of the band, Cal – now using his full name Kelvin Morris (vocals), and Garry Maloney (drums) form the core, with Andy Green (guitar) and Anthony Morgan (briefly of NEW MODEL ARMY) on bass. They've just released a new LP called Massacre Divine on Rio Records, and they have been recently touring the UK. Speaking from his South London home, Kelvin the voice of the band explains the resurrection of yesterday's heroes.

"We've been thinking about it for some time, one of the reasons being a lot of the bands, such as METALLICA, ANTHRAX, and SEPULTURA, are expressing DISCHARGE as a major influence. Basically we thought we still had a lot to offer, so we decided to get the band back together a couple of years ago. We were toying with the idea but we didn't know if we were doing the right thing getting back together. We didn't know if our reasons were valid or not. And then the record company which bought out Clay Records, our old label, persuaded us to do so. That's why, two years  later, we have an LP out."

DISCHARGE are in fact on the label Rio Records, who are distributed by Polygram Records. There was a time when outspoken anarchists DISCHARGE would never have considered backing from a major, but Kelvin doesn't see being distributed via a major as a problem today.

"No, it's alright. Basically we have the same artistic control we had with Clay. I mean, the buck stops with myself and Garry, who are the principal members of the band. We still have as much artistic control over what we do as when we were with Clay, but now we have major distribution in the UK with Polygram. The distribution side of things is a much bigger thing now. We get our records in outlets we never used to get them in – it's good."

But will DISCHARGE's old style anarchist fans see it as good? Have the punks moved on with the times too? Kelvin dismisses any fears and says their new recording home will not change the band's ideals.

"We don't see it as a compromise. We still have artistic control. It's the same apart from a much larger distribution company. At the end of the day the records are still selling through shops the same as they did on an independent label. I can't see any difference whatsoever. The only difference would be if we were 'compromising our art,' so to say, and we are not."

The audience who liked DISCHARGE during their heyday were young, angry, often politically opinionated youths, involved in the overflow of expressions after Punk exploded. Formed in 1978, DISCHARGE has two LPs make the national charts during the '80s with Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing in '82, and Ignorance in '85. Now with the new LP Kelvin hopes the appeal will reach beyond the loyal faithful who remain.

"We are hoping to obviously appeal to a much larger audience with Massacre Divine. It's not a conscious thing by the way.  That is just a natural progression. From day one when our first single came out we were accused of using Heavy Metal lead breaks. But again, we haven't turned our backs on our old audience. We are hoping to attract both our old audience and cross-over to the Thrash Rock sort of audience. We didn't sit there and think, 'grow our hair and cross over.' We are just getting older and mellowing out. I'll say it before you do."

The new LP is not as politically orientated or aggressive s past LPs were. It portrays a much more Rock-orientated feel. Despite dropping the old DISCHARGE fervour, the old DISCHARGE beliefes are still there according to Kelvin.

"We hold true to a lot of our beliefs, but the LP doesn't contain as much as they used to. A few tracks on the LP are very tongue-in-cheek. It's a lighter shade on this LP – not as one-tracked as we were. We touch on subjects more to do with social things these days. I'm not saying it's not valid any longer, but you can only do so much, and then it's time to move on. People tend to go 'we heard it all before.' There is more variety on this LP, and we slowed it down."

DISCHARGE were virtually ignored by the press and media for years despite a keen following worldwide. Apart from fanzines, they were seldom fully appreciated as a serious musical influence by the mainstream media until they had disbanded. When significant Rock groups began to praise them, interest in their legacy picked up. Kelvin reflects on the recent interest in the band.

"It's very flattering to have bands like ANTHRAX doing a cover version, like on their new LP. It's good to be pointed out as an influence, which is ironic. When the band first came to light, we were taboo as far as the music press here were concerned. It's ironic with our last two live LPs that came out, the papers started citing us as a major influence and originators of the the whole scene. Where were all those people, back when? There you go. It's the way it is, after the fact. I mean, some bands have blatantly copied us, and I'm sort of wondering where all my royalties are."

Although they were a product of the Punk years, Kelvin says the band has been influenced as time went on and style developed.

"Back when we first started we were heavily influenced by the '75/'76 Punk era (THE PISTOLS, THE CLASH). That was a major influence on the band. Obviously, as years went on we were influenced by others. Your musical taste changes, and you are influenced by other things. I think music today is more positive and healthy than it has been in a long time. Three or four years ago, the music scene was stale, but now there is a hybrid of music and a fusion of bands, like the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS.

Pleased with the new LP and how the new line-up is progressing, Kelvin is full of plans for DISCHARGE and the band's future.

"We are negotiating deals at the moment. We just negotiated a deal with Roadrunner in the States, and just got a distribution deal there. We have already got domestic release in Japan, and we are working on Europe at the moment. Inevitably tours will ensue. We do seem to have quite a good working relationship in the band so this will be an ongoing thing. It's not a one off. Toward the end of the session, we were on a roll, and we continued writing. We are working on a new LP at the moment, throwing ideas together."

Marion Garden
Riff Raff
January, 1992

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  1. " A natural progression with funky undertones." K.Morris. 1991.

  2. Thanks for posting. Interesting read. Too bad bones and rainy are touring the classic material without Cal and Gary

  3. You got any interviews from the Shootin' Up The World era?