Mixing the inspiration of early '80s hardcore with a healthy dose of sonic chaos, New Mexican Disaster Squad's brand of punk rock is somewhat at odds with the ska, pop-punk and metalcore that dominates the Orlando scene. And the band's relatively low local profile is a testament to that. Only occasionally popping up on bills here and there, NMDS has been a well-kept scene secret for several years now. However, with their new, self-titled album set for a July 22 release on A-F Records -- a label run by righteous punk godheads Anti-Flag -- odds are good the whispers will turn into a full-on buzz.
"We'd love to play around Orlando more," says guitarist and vocalist Sam Johnson, "but it always seems to get screwed up somehow. Hopefully, once the record comes out, we'll be able to work out more local shows."
Despite the fact that NMDS isn't a four-night-a-week "local sensation," the band has certainly not been idle. Multiple tours throughout the southeast and up the east coast helped cement their reputation as a hardcore force to contend with. The band's live sets can be a dizzying ride that evokes the stark power of classic hardcore with a bracing and forward-looking sense of barely controlled intensity. In fact, after playing some shows together, Strike Anywhere's Thomas Barnett was so impressed with the Disaster Squad that he tipped the guys in Anti-Flag to the band's intensity.
"If it wasn't for [Strike Anywhere] talking us up all over the country, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be signed," says drummer Richard Minino.
Despite the band's obvious love of their D.C. punk predecessors -- NMDS has been known to cover the Bad Brains' "F.V.K." in their live sets, and references to Ronald Reagan and "flex your head" peppered their debut full-length ("Abrasive Repulsive Disorder") like a binge of postage-paid Dischord seven-inches -- they're far from a nostalgia act. And the progressive, propulsive sound on their A-F debut is proof of that.
"We put a lot more thought into the songs," says Johnson. "The last record ["Disorder"] was written over a long time span and this one is all songs that we wrote just for this record."
"It's more melodic," adds bassist Alex Goldarb, "and there's some different song tempos. It's still aggressive, but there's a lot more depth to it."
With the instant notoriety NMDS will get from A-F's support and a strong album to back up the hype, the band's upcoming Orlando shows will likely be their last before they embark on a brief tour with Pipebomb (also on A-F) and then a solo jaunt up the east coast in the fall. Just be sure that, when they come back, you say you knew 'em when.