A few weeks ago, I was doing dishes, as us humans tend to do, and I didn’t see one of my new stainless steel forks go into the sink drain. After I was nearly done, I flipped on my garbage disposal to clear the pipes and by golly, those unforgiving blades just juggled around that utensil for a solid second until I turned it off. There were slashes and notches all over one side of the handle from the ordeal — I still washed it with the intent to keep it as a reminder of my failure every time I use it.
At no point during this entire anecdote did I envision someone would use this power for music. Garbage disposal power, I mean. Then again, there’s been all manners of house appliances sampled in music in the past, so why not a garbage disposal? That’s where our marquee band of the week comes in. DISPOSAL, a band from Burnsville, Minneapolis that took that idea and fucking ran with it, recently put out their debut EP and, damn, is it something. In this iteration of Weekly Featured Artist, we’ll go into the who, what, when, where, why, and, perhaps most importantly, the how behind the band. Fair warning though: there’s gonna be a lot of CAPS LOCK in this article in an effort to preserve the tone of the band.
DISPOSAL‘s ranks are made up of five members: Mike Barnet on guitar, bass, and ‘vocals for the weak’ (I’ll explain later); Nick Dippel also on guitar; Nick Gustafson also² on guitar; Joe Marta on drums; and, last but certainly not least, Insinkerator Badger 5-84A on lead vocals. Badger’s family model is considered a ‘best value’ garbage disposal by Popular Mechanics and workhorse in the disposal game. Still, expectations can be fleeting and sometimes you have to do your own thing, family tradition be damned, right? We celebrate that here at Everything Is Noise, and we value chosen family immensely as I’m sure this band does.
‘INSINKERATOR IS A CLASSICALLY TRAINED OPERA SINGER BUT THE REST OF US ARE REGULAR DUDES, MORE OR LESS,’ the band notes. ‘A COUPLE OF US HAVE TAKEN SOME LESSONS TO TIGHTEN UP OUR TECHNIQUE AND CLEAN UP SOME BAD HABITS OVER THE PAST COUPLE YEARS, BUT THE MAJORITY OF OUR LEARNING HAS BEEN INDEPENDENT.’ The members sans Badger make up another metal group called Incriminating Silence, a mark more traditional than DISPOSAL‘s output that may not show how we got here, but does it really matter? Sure it does! Which is what brought me to ask the most important question: why?
‘PEOPLE CONSTANTLY SAY METAL VOCALISTS SOUND LIKE VOMITING, BURPING, COOKIE MONSTER OR, WORST OF ALL, ‘I CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT‘.
‘WE ARE HERE TO PROVE THEM BOTH RIGHT AND WRONG. WHO NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND LYRICS WHEN YOU CAN HAVE SHEER, GRINDING BRUTALITY? WHY NOT JUST MAKE NOISE AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS? DOES ANYONE ACTUALLY CARE? OUR EXISTENCE IS SIMPLE. BRING RIFFS AND LOWER IQS.’
As to how Badger joined the crew? Well, sometimes the important things are right underneath your nose. ‘HE LIVED IN NICK’S SINK FOR A LOT OF YEARS, BUT THAT WAS CREATIVELY STIFLING,‘ the band recalls. ‘I REMEMBER HE CALLED US UP AND SAID ‘BRAAAAAAGHLGHLGHLGHLGHLGUHGUHGUHGUHRAAAAAAAAAAAGHGHGHGGGHHGHAAAAAAA,’ AND OBVIOUSLY WE COULDN’T SAY NO.’
I’ve inadvertently avoided the topic long enough — what are DISPOSAL, really? Short version: a death metal band with a garbage disposal for a vocalist. Long version: you’re reading it. Or, to let the band speak on their own behalf, the intro to their self-titled EP on Bandcamp is as follows: ‘DEATH METAL AS GOD INTENDED. IT SOUNDS LIKE GARBAGE. LITERALLY.‘
Born from spite detailed above — and I imagine a joke that went much too far, as most great things are originated from — the band instrumentally slays just as hard as you’d expect upper-echelon death metal to slay. HM-2-powered guitars, dank atmosphere, fueling an overwhelming urge to nod and/or bang your head (if you got the neck for it), windmilling optional of course. Really though, the origin or purpose of DISPOSAL ceases to stick out much when you actually hear the music, which is very competent and among some of the best death metal I’ve heard all year so far. As one satisfied fan said in a Bandcamp review of the EP: ‘Came for the disposal, stayed for the riffs.’ You know I love when unserious bands take their music seriously and this is about as extreme of an example as you’re gonna find, at least this year.
Badger fits in quite well with the great vocalists of our time — Corpsegrinder, Åkerfeldt, Tägtgren, Lindstrand, Lindberg. It doesn’t get much more guttural than Badger though. There’s some valuable behind-the-scenes footage of how Badger really gets those abysmal, throaty vocals out and it’s probably as disgusting as you’d assume. Disgusting, but necessary. It made me wonder, and I’m sure y’all are thinking it anyway, what sorts of matter travelled into the maw of Badger to achieve this wickedness? ‘THE BONES OF SOCIETY, AND UH, THE BONES OF POPEYES CHICKEN BUCKET. GLASS. SPAGHETTI, BOTH DRY AND COOKED. ANY HOPE FOR AN INTELLIGENT RECORD. YOGURT. A FEW IQ POINTS FROM EACH OF US.’ Yummy. I can definitely hear the inclusion of bones in the intro of “DISPOSAL” grinding down to a splintery mess — they prove to be some of the most brutal on the EP, and neatly synched up a bit with the melody of the guitars to bring some beauty to the brutality.
Now, I don’t mean to be presumptuous or stereotypical, but I imagine that working with someone like Badger does come with its own unique share of… precautions. I asked the band what steps they took to ensure both the safety of each member, but also the comfort of Badger as, I’m sure you can guess, this isn’t your normal situation for a band to exist in:
‘WE MIGHT ALL BE A BUNCH OF DUMBASSES, BUT THANKFULLY NONE OF US IS STUPID ENOUGH TO PUT THEIR LIMBS NEAR A RUNNING GARBAGE DISPOSAL. INSINKERATOR IS A GREAT VOCALIST, BUT IT BITES PRETTY HARD. WE HAD IT MOUNTED IN JOE’S DRIVEWAY ON A JANKY SAWHORSE RIG WITH THE POWER SWITCH IN THE GARAGE, SO NONE OF US HAD TO MAKE DIRECT CONTACT WITH IT. THE BIGGEST CONCERN THEN WAS PROTECTING THE MICROPHONES FROM SPLASHBACK, SO WE COVERED THEM WITH A FEW PAPER TOWELS PRIOR TO RECORDING.
‘AS POWERFUL AS INSINKERATOR IS, WE DISCOVERED IT HAS ONE WEAKNESS: CARDBOARD. WE DROPPED THE EMPTY SPAGHETTI BOX IN NEAR THE END, AND IT WAS ACTUALLY SO FLOPPY THAT THE DISPOSAL COULDN’T GRIND IT. EVERYTHING ELSE WENT THROUGH WITHOUT ISSUE.’
The band also divulged what they would have liked to have Badger consume were the confines of physics not an issue — ‘SOCIETY. A BLACK HOLE. TED CRUZ.’ Hey, I’m down with all of that, especially that last one (motherfuck Ted Cruz!).
It’s pretty apparent where the influence of DISPOSAL comes from, at least broadly.
‘THE UNADULTERATED, MIND-NUMBING FILTH THAT IS THE HM-2. WE ALSO TOOK A LITTLE MORE DIRECT INSPIRATION FROM DEMILICH, CHURCH OF DISGUST, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, AND GARROTED. IF YOU’RE AT ALL FAMILIAR WITH ANY OF THOSE ARTISTS, YOU’LL DEFINITELY HEAR THEIR INFLUENCE ON A COUPLE OF THESE RIFFS. REALLY, THOUGH, THE PRIMARY INFLUENCES WERE BOSS HM-2 AND US GETTING DRUNK AND SAYING, ‘HEY, WHAT IF WE DID [INSERT REALLY DUMB IDEA HERE]?’‘
Earlier I described Mike Barnet as contributing ‘vocals for the weak’ to the project. One thing that DISPOSAL sought to do was be pretty inclusive with their debut, so you’ll see the EP has eight songs: the first four the intended vision of the music with Badger as vocalist; the second four are the same musically, but have Barnet on vocals employing a more traditional metal vocal style. For those that see Badger as a mere gimmick — and shame on you — DISPOSAL still know what people want, though they do have some choice words for those people. When asked what they have to say to fans that prefer Barnet’s vocals over Badger’s, they frankly replied:
‘FODDER FOR THE DISPOSAL
‘BUT REALLY, WE GET IT: YOU WANT YOUR DEATH METAL TO BE SERIOUS AND TOUGH, AND THESE WEIRD DUDES SHOW UP WITH A LITERAL GRINDING UNIT AS A VOCALIST AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK. YOU SAY YOU DON’T LIKE GIMMICKS, BUT IN YOUR HEART OF HEARTS YOU KNOW THAT NO HUMAN VOCALIST CAN MEET THE UNMATCHED BRUTALITY OF A MACHINE BUILT WITH THE SOLE PURPOSE OF MULCHING DISCARDED FLESH. BUT THAT’S OKAY; WE PUT THOSE VERSIONS OF THE TRACKS ON THERE TO HELP EASE PEOPLE INTO THE DISPOSAL MINDSET. YOU’LL COME AROUND TO THE GRIME EVENTUALLY.‘
As an immediate convert to Badger and the DISPOSAL flavor, I can still see why people wouldn’t vibe with it, though you owe it to yourself to give it a try because, as the band said, there’s no human vocalist that can do what Badger does. It’s unprecedented sonic violence, stemming from the kind of ideas that make you go, ‘shit, why didn’t I think of that?’
No matter how you take DISPOSAL though, the band glows from the praise and appreciation. When their EP launched on a fabled Bandcamp Friday in March, the band pledged revenue from it and their other project would go to People Serving People, a Minnesotan homeless prevention non-profit providing emergency shelter to those in need. As a result, the band raised over $200. They also garnered attention from Toilet ov Hell. Makes you wonder what’s next? Luckily, the band had an answer:
‘THE PRAISE IS SINCERELY APPRECIATED. WHILE WE INITIALLY INTENDED FOR THIS TO BE A ONE-OFF JOKE PROJECT, WE HAD SO MUCH FUN DOING IT THAT WE CAN’T RESIST DOING ANOTHER. WE ALREADY HAVE SOME RIFFS PENNED, AND WE HAVE ALL KINDS OF TERRIBLE IDEAS FOR WHAT COMES NEXT. EVERY BAND SAYS STUFF LIKE THIS, BUT WE GUARANTEE THE METAL WORLD ISN’T READY FOR SOME OF THIS.‘
Of course, I couldn’t stop without asking DISPOSAL what their dream collaborations would be, and maybe one in particular has some amazing foreshadowing to it?
‘IF I COULD GO BACK IN TIME, I WOULD FORCE ANTONIO VIVALDI TO WRITE A CONCERTO CENTERED ON THE DISPOSAL. THE MAIN MOTIF FOR “SPRING” HAS BEEN RANDOMLY POPPING INTO MY HEAD EVERY COUPLE WEEKS FOR THE PAST 25 YEARS, AND THAT BASTARD NEEDS TO PAY FOR IT.
‘ON A MORE REALISTIC NOTE: GRINDER. GRINDER IS THE TRUE PIONEER OF KITCHEN APPLIANCE-BASED METAL — A GRINDCORE BAND FRONTED BY A COFFEE POT — AND IT SEEMS LIKE IT’S A MORAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR US TO COLLABORATE IN SOME FASHION.’
For real though, DISPOSAL was a great find for me, like they are for most people I imagine. It’s a monumental moment for appliance-based music to see something like Badger take center stage, rip and tear shit up, and maybe influence other appliances out there to get into the fray. It warms the heart, it grinds the bones — trailblazing at its finest. The music is undeniably good no matter how you look at it, and it’s exciting to know more is on the way. We’ll leave you today with final thoughts from the band to their fans and supporters:
‘BIG SHOUT OUT TO ALL YOU NEANDERTHALS WHO HAVE SUPPORTED US SO FAR. YOU’RE A BUNCH OF DISGUSTING FREAKS, AND WE LOVE YOU FOR THAT. THERE WILL BE MORE DISPOSAL IN 2021 YET, SO KEEP AN EYE OUT.’
INSINKERATOR BADGER 5-84A – VOCALS
MIKE BARNET – GUITAR/BASS/VOCALS FOR THE WEAK
NICK DIPPEL – GUITAR
NICK GUSTAFSON – GUITAR
JOE MARTA – DRUMS