The notion of Dischord having a signature sound is being shaken by a steady influx of bands willing to adapt punk’s do-it-yourself ’tude to different musical styles. In the tradition of such un-Dischordant bands as Shudder to Think and High Back Chairs comes Smart Went Crazy, whose debut album, Now We’re Even, exhibits all the ideologies of a traditional Dischord band but none of the apparent musical references—though guitarist/singer Chad Clark claims one seminal D.C. band as a major influence. “My first Dischord record was Rites of Spring’s, and it’s funny for a lot of people hearing our music that we are influenced by Rites of Spring,” says Clark. “But it’s not necessarily anything on the surface, it’s more just the way of approaching [music].” Among Dischord bands, Rites of Spring was one of the most successful at expressing feelings with honesty and abandon while incorporating musical innovation, and Smart Went Crazy approaches its music in a similar fashion. The lyrics, penned mostly by Clark, are pointed and poetic, while the music, thanks to Hilary Soldati’s cello, is angular, subtle, and dark.
But that doesn’t mean the kids wearing leather jackets with Minor Threat painted on their sleeves are gonna comprehend a sound more reminiscent of Throwing Muses than Teen Idles. Ian MacKaye told the group, “‘Be prepared to get spit on,’ and I don’t mean figuratively,” laughs Clark. But Clark is excited about the challenge of playing to punk crowds accustomed to incessant aggression rather than measured passion.
“We feel like Dischord is kind of a noble tradition of bands doing it on their own and not really answering to anybody’s idea of what they should do or how they go about it,” he says. “Even though it’s 10 years later and we have a certain kind of melodic, complex, chamber-music thing, we still think of ourselves as being from that tradition, even though we realize we’re going to have an uphill battle convincing people that’s the way to see it. CP