2020 has obviously been a difficult and challenging year for everyone throughout the music industry, but the most special bands are borne of resolute stuff, and Glasgow's Walt Disco are possessed with an unquenchable spirit and desire to bring their own idiosyncratic brand of pop to the masses and have a good time doing it. Despite playing no shows and all the difficulties that entail, the six-piece have spent the year defining their vision and truly cementing their place as one of our most striking new bands.
Rather than wallow in a turgid malaise, Walt Disco decided to get to work as singer James Power explains. "I've been using the word repurpose a lot. We've been repurposing the time that was meant to be getting in front of new fans to change to do as much writing as possible. I think it's probably been better for us in the long run. We know how to do it. Music is an everyday job, and we've been getting better at producing our own songs. So, we wrote an album. We're working on it now, and it's being produced now, and we're writing a second album. It's a fun time. We can't really work because of lockdown because we work in pubs and stuff, so we just have to do music."
Despite an inability to do most of the things that new bands traditionally do, this year has been a landmark year for the band. "2020 was a fresh start anyway for us," continues guitarist Dave. "We finally solidified our line-up. When we started writing the album, we could work out what sort of band we wanted to be. The music we wanted to make and the statements we wanted to make. Also, having an EP to release helped tide us over and remind people that we were still about."
The EP in question is the bonkers, unhinged brilliance of 'Young, Hard and Handsome'. "They're fun songs. The world needed songs like 'Cut Your Hair' this year," laughs James. "It was a good halfway signal between where we are now and where we're heading musically. We've embraced a lot of production and sounds that we always liked but never put onto a record before. It was a massive learning experience," he explains of this pivotal release.
Walt Disco are a band defined by fearlessness. They have spent the last few years ramping up every aspect of the band from their flamboyant stage shows to their striking visual aesthetic to their music which has blossomed in ever-increasingly odd pop directions. They're a band who now firmly what they are and you're going to love them for it. "We've moved in a more experimental pop direction," asserts James. "We sat down and decided, right, we are a pop group. It was nice to figure those things out without a label telling you that's what you are. Whether we have a label or not in the next year, they'll know, and we'll know, what the vision is. Everyone in the team knows that vision, and it's uncompromising now."
There are infinite possibilities for the currently being worked on debut Walt Disco album, but one thing that is clear is that the band's wild spirit will be all over it. "It's about making records with high concepts that reflect what we need to write about at the time and what the world needs to hear," explains James confidently. "The stuff that's going to be on this first record isn't going to be sad or bedroomy or not dancey. It's going to be positive tunes. We can talk about feelings and sad feelings because it's life, but we just didn't think the world needed a dreary record and we didn't want to make that record. It's all about the performance aspect. We always wanted to translate our stage show."
Anyone who has seen Walt Disco perform will know how exciting that stage show is. They are a band who know and recognise the importance of making a statement both musically and visually and are looking to move forward as a strong pop entity encompassing all aspects. "Pop artists are performance artists," says James. "All these huge stage shows from people like Lady Gaga or Dua Lipa have outfit changes and choreographed dance routines, and we think it would be really interesting if a band added that to their show. So, hopefully, you'll see all of us on stage with mics dancing." Exciting stuff. A job lot of Britney style head mics should be winging its way to Glasgow right about now.
Perhaps the best thing about Walt Disco is how they revel in defying conventions. They're not interested in what a band should be. "There will be some songs that have no guitars and no live bass but lots of vocals and synths, but we don't want to just scrap them because we think we're a band. We just want to be able to play what we want to write," says James.
The last few years have been a voyage of discovery for the band, from playing early shows in Glasgow to touring the country with countless other Dork faves like Sports Team, all the while growing in confidence to highlight their true passions for exuberant, queer progressive pop. As we move into 2021, there's no one else quite like Walt Disco. "We used the band as a way to discover how we wanted to present ourselves in day to day life," says James. "As an artist, you're in a privileged position as you can think about things in a way that the average person doesn't get to think about. You have to delve deep into your psyche and feelings to write songs.
"I like how people have seen us develop into the people we were always meant to be. I'm glad that it was public so we can normalise that self-discovery."
Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Dork, out now.
Featuring YUNGBLUD, Baby Queen, BENEE, Joe Keery and loads more.