Thursday, November 21, 2013

Disassociate, Heavyweight Champions of NY Grindcore

It's odd: kids in the local scene always ask me if I've seen such-and-such band, but one name that's never come up is Disassociate. They may not be a "cool" band these days, but they were one of the staples of my college years in NY. Their music, while not particularly inventive or unique, was heartfelt. In the years when OGs like Napalm and Carcass left grindcore behind until the late 90's when Relapse successfully revived the genre, bands like Disassociate proudly flew the flag for people who just wanted raw, fast, no-frills grindcore.

I've lost track of the number of times I saw Disassociate perform - definitely no less than three times, and possibly twice a year between 1999 and 2002. The first time I saw them, the band came out in psychedelic Jason Voorhees masks to the tune of Star Wars' "Imperial March". The last time I saw them (opening for Discordance Axis at their last ever show), they smashed an old PC with a sledge hammer while doing a noise/power electronics set. I attended that show with my girlfriend at the time and her friend from art school; neither of them were impressed by Discordance Axis ("All their songs sound the same!") but they were really into Disassociate and their performance art.

flyer taken from
GRIEF - The Band; An Online Scrapbook
Disassociate shows were always entertaining, mostly due to frontman Ralphie Boy and his pro-wrestling schtick. Thickly muscled and rarely wearing a shirt when he performed, Ralphie had a faux champion's belt and called his band "The World Grind Federation Heavyweight Title Holders" (never mind that their guitarist was barely five and a half feet tall). Ralphie was also a local concert promoter and booked some of the most exciting bands around for his Loud Az Fuck Festivals at CBGBs. In the summer of 2000 I attended both days of the second Loud Az Fuck, with Damad (who became Kylesa), Grief, Hellchild, Meatjack, Millions of Dead Cops, All Out War, Today is the Day, Anal Cunt, Dropdead and a bunch more that I can't remember. Til now, those two days rank amongst the best shows I've ever attended. If I had to go back in time and relive a day of my life over and over, a la Groundhog Day, it would be one of those two.

The last time I saw Ralphie was in Alphabet City in 2002. I passed him as he was on his way from making and distributing flyers for an upcoming show. I didn't personally know him, but he gave me a friendly nod (and probably a flyer). It's up in the air if he recognized me from all the times I saw his band at CBs or if he was just being polite, but it cemented my opinion that he was a down-to-earth guy who lived for the scene.

I moved back to South East Asia at the end of 2002; I think Disassociate broke up a few years after that. I don't remember seeing Ralphie when I was living in NY between 2008-2011, so I'm guessing he's not active in the area anymore. I can't imagine him moving to the suburbs and raising a bunch of kids; hopefully wherever he is, he's still got the belt from when he was the heavyweight champion of NY grindcore.

Moshpit Tragedy have made all of Disassociate's albums available to download for free:

Controlled Power - including their performance in Singapore in 1995 (?!?)

Symbols Signals and Noise

Imperfect World 

UPDATE: Moshpit Tragedy is dead, and so are the links. Sorry kids. - Adrian Sol, 04.12.2015