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Another plan of attack: Aron Magner explains how the Disco Biscuits are taking on aliens, Iceland, and a new album in 2023

The Disco Biscuits performing at Catskill Mountain Jubilee in East Durham, New York on August 14th, 2022.
Dave DeCrescente Photography
Drew Granchelli
The Disco Biscuits performing at Catskill Mountain Jubilee in East Durham, New York on August 14th, 2022.

To hear the fully produced piece, including samples of the Disco Biscuits and Spaga tracks referred to in the text below, hit the play button above.

This is Josh Landes and you’re listening up WAMC. Coming up this hour, a special conversation with keyboardist Aron Magner of the Disco Biscuits.

The Philadelphia quartet brings its kaleidoscopic brand of trance fusion improvisation to the Palace Theatre in Albany on February 3rd.

“We're a jam band, right? So, our art is frequently formulated on stage, right, because there's that symbiosis between fans and band, and there's that component that kind of needs to be there in order for the planets to align. So, we can rehearse it all we want in a band room. But really, you're missing that one piece- Which is the fans.”

We’ll talk with Aron Magner about the Biscuits’ new suite of songs, upcoming trip to Iceland, and much more.

The Disco Biscuits, formed in Philadelphia in 1995, start 2023 with a surge of momentum. Over 2022, the band unveiled over a dozen new songs, announced a three-day Tranceatlantic event in Iceland coming up in May, and began releasing singles from their forthcoming studio album, their first since 2011’s “Otherwise Law Abiding Citizens.” As with many acts in the jam band scene, the Biscuits are best known for their sprawling, improv-heavy live performances. They’ve amassed a dedicated following over the years with their unique combination of beat-heavy electronic music paired with elements of jazz-fusion, funk, and prog. Aron Magner plays keyboards in the band.

MAGNER: What I love about the Disco Biscuits, and this has been at our ethos, at our core since we were kids is, rather than doing what is customary in the jam band or any improvisational world, be it jazz or something like that, is, you have the song, and then you have the section of the song that you open up into some form of improvisation rooted in whatever genre of music- You know, if it's jazz, it’s typically jazz. If it's a jam band, that jam can be rooted in lots of different genres of music, including the Disco Biscuits. And you get to that section of the song where it opens up into that improvisational section, and then you get to the point of the song where the that improvisational section is over and it's capped by a chorus or a musical lick that says, that was the end of the jam, and then you finish the song. What the Disco Biscuits have always done since we were kids is, we find different moments at different points of songs, different springboards to jump off of. Maybe it's not that point in, after the second chorus is the jam. Maybe that jam comes out of the bridge, and it's a whole new set of chord changes that you've never done before. And what's cool is we're still discovering different parts of songs to use as launchpads. And then therefore, we're trying to create more infinite possibilities. If we launch out of this section of the song and we land into a completely different section of another song, then you have this new segue that's never kind of been done before. And that's what keeps us on our toes. And there's a lot of high-level communication that takes place on stage, a lot of anticipation of each other's moves. Very rarely we’ll discuss kind of checkpoints of how we need to get from point A to sometimes point Z. But you know, frequently it's like, okay, everybody just- It's trust, right? Everybody just needs to trust each other that we're going to end up in this different place from where we started. And it might not be the smoothest. It might get bumpy along the way. We always strive to keep the bumps, keep the turbulence down as much as possible, you know, but sometimes it gets turbulent. And every now and again, it just doesn't work. And that's called a train wreck. And that sucks. Luckily, I feel like we could count our train wrecks on one, over our entire career, one hand. Maybe two. But it just serves to- It's the generalized point of like, hey, if you don't take risks, then you don't get the reward. And so that's a risk that we're willing to take. We're willing to take the risk of utter and complete embarrassment, which, again, have unfortunately happened over the course of our career. But if we're not ready to take that risk, then you're not going to get the cool parts of the reward, of brand-new jams that would never have transpired unless we had the balls to go from point A to a different point entirely on a different universe.

The Biscuits are comprised of Magner, guitarist Jon “The Barber” Gutwillig, bassist Marc Brownstein, and drummer Allen Aucoin. The latter joined the band in 2005 after original drummer Sam Altman departed to pursue a career in medicine. Magner, who also performs in acts like his jazzy side project Spaga and alongside Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann in Billy and the Kids, spoke with WAMC in advance of the Disco Biscuits appearance at the Palace Theatre in Albany on February 3rd.

MAGNER: We have written and then put onto stage 14 songs in the last half of 2022, from Q3 to Q4. So, we took them basically right out of the writing room with demos, taught it to full band, and then kind of brought it on to stage, arguably prematurely. And that's kind of the cool part about this, right? And I think as artists, you create, and there's never really a point where you're like, this is it, we're done. There's always, we can get better, we can refine it, let's play it again, let's do another version, let's rehearse it more. But especially that we were moving the songs along the conveyor belt rather quickly- Again, from the writing room floor, to demo, to teaching to the band, right to stage, without the ability of really refining and rehearsing and tweaking the way that I feel like most bands would and most bands would want to. We felt this desire to just kind of get it out there. Now we're a jam band, right? So, our art is frequently formulated on stage, right, because there's that symbiosis between fans and band, and there's that component that kind of needs to be there in order for the planets to align. So, we can rehearse it all we want in a band room. But really, you're missing that one piece, which is the fans. What's also really nice is that we have this comfort level with the fans where we feel okay taking chances in front of them because they want us to take chances in front of them. And what was a cherry on top of that whole thing, fans want to hear the old songs, the classic songs, everybody likes what's already familiar, people don't like change. Throughout history, your favorite band puts out a new album, you go to the concert, you don't want to hear the songs from the new album, you want to hear the songs that got you into that band in the first place. But then the songs from the new album eventually become old songs, and they become your favorite songs too, until you put out another album. And then it's like, oh, I don't like this new album. I like the classic stuff, right? And it's just this cycle. But what happened with these songs – and they're a collection of songs, there's 14 of them that are all kind of thematically connected, and we haven't connected the dots yet for the audience, though they are starting to figure it out – but when we debuted the first couple of songs from this collection, it was met with such positivity from the fans, from the fan base, that it gave us the ability to kind of say, okay, you know, this makes us feel more comfortable, you guys like this, you're not cringing that it's not, you know, ‘Helicopters’ or something that you're uber familiar with. So, it gave us the ability to feel more confident in our decision to kind of put the songs on stage arguably before they were ready. And they're still getting refined and choruses are altered and song forms are altered and sometimes different keys are happening, but it's all happening in front of the audience. And I think that there's a mutual respect for allowing us to be able to have that kind of freedom to do that.

WAMC: I am a relative newcomer to the Disco Biscuits. And on a whim, I went to your show at the Catskill Jubilee. So, I was there when [Jon Gutwillig] turned to the crowd and goes, ‘Are you with me? Are you in this?’ And then you guys debut ‘The Wormhole.’ Is that one of those moments you're talking about?

It’s exactly one of those moments, except times fourteen. [laughs] And, in fact, I mean, that specific moment that you're talking about, we were literally walking on to stage when I kind of said to Jon, I was like, you know, we don't have to play ‘Wormhole’ before it's ready. Like, we can, this is one of my favorite ones – and it still is – we can hold this one back for a little bit until it's ready, or until it's released or something. And Jon was like, he thought about it for a second, he was like, no, let's do it. And he's been really excited to play each of these songs as they've come out of the writing room floor. So, I do have to admire that for kind of pressing us to take our steps before the band felt we were fully ready, but being like, we're going to be able to do this. And then next time we play it, we're going to take a couple further steps, but we're going to do it. And I think that that's kind of neat, because as artists, like I said, we're never really, we never really feel done. The time that it's done is when you put it out on an album and you release it and you're like, okay, I guess that's it. [laughs] But before that, it kind of takes somebody else – whether it's management or another band member, or the record label, or what have you – to be like it's done. You have to leave it now, it's done.

Since the Disco Biscuits debuted “The Wormhole” at Catskill Mountain Jubilee in East Durham, New York, on August 14th, 2022, it’s been played over a dozen times. Here’s how it sounded on the night of January 19th, 2023 at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo.

I want to turn to another example from the new batch of songs. You know, you're talking about this process of hammering it out on stage- With one of the new songs, “To Be Continued,” it really feels like things slotted into place so aggressively from sort of dancing around it and playing with the themes of it on the 12th of November in Boston, and then suddenly, a week later in Atlanta, it explodes into this 30 minute, maybe one of the best jams I've heard from any band over the course of the year, and is paired perfectly with “Above The Waves,” a classic from the catalog. Did that one feel different? That one really felt like it went from taking it off the off the lot one time to suddenly being like a warhorse.

Yeah, so that one was kind of funny. So, you know, we were still writing "To Be Continued" because that was what song that was on the docket for that week before the Boston shows. It was what was in all of our heads, and certainly the chorus, that was in Jon’s head. He was singing it, he was really excited about the words. And he was changing keys to see which one, which key it felt more comfortable in, C-sharp or C, and it was not on the setlist in Boston. And we got up there for the beginning of the second set, and clearly with it ruminating and Jon's had during set break or the days before, whatever, and he just kind of starts playing in on guitar, one of those, you pick up your instrument when you hop on the stage and you play a couple of notes just to make sure it actually works. But those couple of notes were "To Be Continued" in a different key, and then once he played the chord cycle one time, then it's kind of like, it's like a little game. He wasn't necessarily, like, courting us, but he was like, I don’t know. Then somebody else joins in, they had to figure it out in a different key. And next thing we know, we're playing the full chorus of "To Be Continued," and that starts the second set. And nobody had any idea, including Jon, that that was going to happen just moments before. And then we kind of knew that the song would be ready weeks later when we debuted it in its entirety for Atlanta. But ironically, that was one of the hardest songs to write of this new collection, mainly because we didn't really have a storyline for it. All the rest of the songs are connected with this through line, this story that we're beginning to tell, little easter eggs that are dropped for the fans. The fans are definitely starting to pick up on it. Okay, these songs are related somehow. Okay, these songs have to do with aliens. Okay, but the band is involved in the story as well. So how are the band and the aliens connected? And it's kind of cool that with each song that we drop, whether it's a single that we release or whether it's playing it live, and the fans figure out the lyrics and start to connect the dots, that they’re forensically putting the songs together when we haven't really connected it for everybody yet. So, you know, "To Be Continued" is the last song of this 14 song collection, which I don't think anybody really knows yet, too. But it’s where you figure you'd put the song entitled ‘To Be Continued’ as the very last song. And we'd kind of, like, run through our themes at this point. So, writing "To Be Continued" was a little bit more of starting from a blank canvas, you know, than a story arc. So that was kind of interesting as well.

Here’s what “To Be Continued” sounded like when the Biscuits performed it for the first time in full at the Eastern in Atlanta on November 19th, 2022.

There's some speculation from the fan base that “To Be Continued” is based in part on a very specific jam- The April 11th, 2008, “Vassilios” into “Spaga” jam. I just wanted to pierce some of the fan speculation and go right to the source here- Can you speak to that? Is “To Be Continued” drawn from this 15-year-old jam?

Yeah, so there's basically two parts of ‘To Be continued.’ There's the intro part, right, which is just basically like a new song because I was playing on a keyboard that was kind of reminiscent of – I'll get nerdy – of like a Yamaha CS-80 keyboard. It's really, it’s one of the most respected instruments for what it was at the time. It's incredibly expensive, only a few of them are left. It was actually used all over the Blade Runner soundtrack. And I was kind of inspired by that sound. And so that's how you get that whole chord progression that's at the beginning of "To Be Continued." As we started moving forward in writing it, that second part there was absolutely the influence for how we got that second section. And it was done deliberately. It was like, this is a fan favorite. I didn't remember it at all. Joey [Friedman], our lyricist, but also a huge fan, was like, hey, this jam is like frequently talked about as one of the fans’ favorite jams, let's try to incorporate it. And that's how that became the second section of the song.

Speaking of new things in 2022, you saved sort of a treat for the end of the year with a song that you lead, “Spaga’s Last Stand,” that was debuted during the New Years’ run. Talk about taking risks up until the last minute of the year, this was very literal in this case, you're debuting a new thing in the last minutes of ‘22. Talk to me about that. What's the story behind this new song? It obviously has this connection to your beloved side project- Tell us about the narrative and the construction of “Spaga’s Last Stand.”

Alright, so here's a spoiler, an Easter egg that's that I'll plant with the theme of this song, right? So basically, Manhattan, Times Square is under attack by the aliens. They’ve frozen Manhattan, right? But the Biscuits just got finished with this show underground in Times Square. So, we didn't get frozen. But we go up after New Year's, and we see that the entire city of Manhattan is frozen. We're not frozen. I go back down, I've got this idea of how we're going to save humanity from whatever the hell is going on upstairs. And I grab a synthesizer, and the rest of the band is like, uh, okay, and I basically convince the band, come with me, I've got an idea. You know, I'm going to fix this. And they're like, okay, because they don't know what else to do. So, they grab their instruments, and we had upstairs, and basically, my plan doesn't work and we get zapped by an alien. And that's how we end up on an alien spaceship. So that's kind of the premise of “Spaga’s Last Stand.” I very confidently know that I have a plan here and follow me, but the plan doesn't work. But it ultimately does, because we wouldn't have ended up in the spaceship where, you know, more things happen with our relationship with these aliens had, you know, we not gotten up into the spaceship. So, you know, and hilarity ensues. Yeah, I mean, it's just kind of another one of the funny parts of this timeless story that we're trying to tell. This story is definitely an ability for us to kind of like have some sort of focus on what we want to write about, which has been a really cool step of the process. But it's been a really rewarding step of the process. It's been basically me and Barber and our lyricist Joey Friedman, who's also a huge Biscuits fan and is not a musician, but kind of helped us with the process by bringing in almost like a managerial style of writing. Like, as opposed to if it were just me and Jon writing, it would be like, oh, what do you want to write about today? Let's try this, right? And he would kind of keep us focused on the task at hand. And we had checkpoints and goals and whiteboards, and using all sorts of crazy Google Doc things. Again, kind of like a managerial ability to keep us focused. So that was kind of a cool process. So, “Spaga’s Last Stand” was just as much, it’s like, yeah, I guess it's my song. But like, all these songs are songs. We all sat in Barber’s basement for months writing these songs. And it's been a great team.

Here’s the Disco Biscuits playing “Spaga’s Last Stand” with Aron Magner on vocals on New Year’s Eve at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, Illinois in December 2022.

In the second half of our interview with Disco Biscuits keyboardist Aron Magner, we’ll hear him describe his role in the band’s wild improvisational performance style, his jazz-heavy side project Spaga, and the forthcoming Tranceatlantic event that will take the Biscuits to Iceland in May. You’re listening to WAMC.

Welcome back to WAMC’s special interview with keyboardist Aron Magner of the Disco Biscuits. We just heard some of their song “Home Again” as performed in Buffalo on January 19th, 2023. In the second half of our interview, Magner discusses his role in the band alongside guitarist Jon “The Barber” Gutwillig, bassist Marc Brownstein, and drummer Allen Aucoin, plus his side project Spaga and the Biscuits’ upcoming performances in Iceland. First, here’s the Disco Biscuits performing “Evolve” in Hartford on November 10th, 2022.

I want to talk about your role in the band, because you really, you cover so many bases within the group, Aron, ranging from playing beautiful melodic leads to layering in lots of color and texture with your synth battery. What is exactly happening, where you feel like, okay, I'm going to come in with pure texture here, or now I'm going to come in with this hook that everybody knows- Or what's that exchange like for you?

It differs, you know, it really differs. My role in this band I feel like is more of a supporting role. Sometimes yes, I do stand on top of that collective musical ball that we're all moving forward. And sometimes I'm the one that's standing on top of it to get the momentum going for sure. Sometimes there's not much happening, and nobody is standing on top of that ball and we just wait until we do have collective momentum in order to move it forward. But a lot of it is supporting Jon as a keyboard player, a lot of it is defining Marc’s chord changes, right, because the bass is really what pronounces what's happening, but sometimes it's not in focus enough until another instrument kind of tells you what kind of color that note is by use of other notes of the chord. And then once it's revealed, it's like, oh, that's what that is, you know? Also, I provide a lot of soundscapes within the set. That's like, part of my arsenal is providing for those soundscapes, right, so it doesn't necessarily have to be like, oh, wow, that was a soaring, synth lead, right? It's like, okay, I can take a synth lead, but Jon takes genius, soaring guitar leads, so a lot of times I'm providing the type of universe that that jam is going to exist in, what type of scenery, what type of travel is happening in this setting. That I feel like is my main responsibility on stage. Off stage, same thing, I guess. It’s supporting this system. I feel like I'm a rather pragmatic person and can kind of help this organization along in a using my pragmatic skills.

If someone heard you playing in Spaga versus hearing you playing in Disco Biscuits, I think a lot of people would be like, oh my god, it's the same guy, and yet we're seeing completely different skill sets. You know, I was so enjoying your 2021 acoustic session for “For The Table.” You're really seeing this completely turn on a dime, nimble, jazzy, groovy band. Talk to me about that. How are you scratching both itches between Spaga and the Disco Biscuits in 2023?

Well, they're two very different projects with very different sonic qualities and very different mentalities- Both musically, personality wise. They need to be treated differently in the same way that you should treat two instruments differently. You're not going to turn a saxophone into an electric guitar. Spaga is just me and a grand piano with two of the best Philly musicians that we have- Jason Fraticelli and Matt Scarano. And the itch that it actually scratches is getting me back to my first instrument that I fell in love with, and that's the piano. And what's more interesting is that, this is my main instrument, the piano. Yeah, I've got synthesizers and I've got keyboards that make piano sounds. But really, the piano is an instrument that, like, I don't really get to play. And it's so crazy that like, of almost all the instruments, us piano players don't get to use a piano on stage. It's heavy, it's annoying, you have to tune it, there's much lighter and cheaper things that you can do that basically do the same thing. But it's a different type of experience, at least for the player. And so, it kind of brought me back to that original, it connected me to an earlier version of myself. Here I am, at the piano. Here I am, exploring jazz, my jazz roots, which I kind of started ignoring the second that I met the Disco Biscuits and kind of proceeded on this rock and jam type of path. So, reconnecting to a previous version of yourself is kind of fascinating, right? I mean, at points, I feel like I'm 15 years old again playing jazz, but it also forces me to go back to the piano, it forces me to get better at my instrument, it forces me to be the best quality musician that I can be. I mean, I love playing in the Disco Biscuits, don't get me wrong. And I'm not saying it's a walk in the park either. But when it's me leading a trio with just the piano and not all of my toys, and not a full band with lights and sound and lasers and everything like that, it's about the music. And when I'm leading the band, as amazing as those guys are, as the bass player and the drummer are, it's about my musical prowess. So, it kind of keeps me focused.

Here’s the aforementioned acoustic Spaga performance of “For The Table,” recorded live in a living room in Miami in 2021.

You guys are bringing together both Spaga and Disco Biscuits for one of your most ambitious projects yet, this three-night run in Iceland where there's going to be this amazing opportunity to experience Spaga alongside bleeding-edge Icelandic cuisine and Bisco in Reykjavik. Talk to me about that- I mean, this clearly is one of these, it's going to be one of these landmark moments in the band's history. How did this come together? What are you hoping to get out of this unique experience?

So, I have never been to Iceland before. I feel like a lot of us have never been to Iceland before. But we're starting to see that our friends or people that, you know, friends of friends are starting to go to Iceland. So obviously, something in the tourism department, the Department of State of Iceland, are trying to figure out how to get more people to come to Iceland. I think that's what's happening here, because it didn't seem to be on anybody's radar a few years ago as a destination, and now everybody is getting is trying to experience this magical space that I don't really know much about yet. I'm kind of like waiting until I get there to start to understand what is so special about Iceland. So, we got an opportunity from concert promoters to do an event for three days in Iceland at this amazing venue called Harpa. Beautiful, beautiful, I believe it's a new venue, but it's definitely constructed in the style of like, old, really nice theaters. And we're doing three nights there, the Disco Biscuits. There are still some tickets available. It's definitely, you know, it caps out at a certain point, but there are still some available. So, it's like a destination event. It's just not like the beach-style vacation event that we normally do, putting on concerts in Mexico and stuff like that. So, we're doing this in Iceland, in this beautiful theater. And I have been fascinated with the connection of music and food. And Spaga has also been an outlet to kind of explore that, right? I think that there's a lot of similarities between food, between the two art forms of food and music, right? You know, chefs, they have their favorite bands that they listen to, the prep chefs have their favorite musicians that they listen to help them through these crazy hours of prepping the food to be cooked for the dinner rush and everything. Restaurants, they curate music specifically so that it can be paired with the food. Me on the musician side- I know when I'm traveling to all sorts of different cities, there's restaurants that are my favorite, there's new restaurants that I want to try, there’s chefs that I want to explore. So, there's kind of this, like confluence of these two things. Not to mention, chefs are improvising in the kitchen, right? You're running out of ingredients, you need to figure it out, you need to figure out how to deal with the rest of the chefs, right? It's not just one person that's able to create these dishes. It's an entire team, similar to like a band. Like, we're an entire team, and we're improvising, and something, you know, you break a guitar string, and something else happens. And we're kind of like dealing with it in real time, and not necessarily even using words to move that ball forward. And I was kind of fascinated at that mutualism. And so, I started doing a couple of shows at this amazing barn right outside of Philadelphia. Like, the structure was built in the 1600s. And I brought in some Philadelphia celebrity chefs, and they use the ingredients that were grown on the farm and prepared this amazing multicourse meal. And the two art forms, my music and the chefs’ food, were on display. And it wasn't dinner theater. It wasn't that you’d eat the meal while listening to the music. They were mutually exclusive, because I wanted everybody to be able to experience those two things separately. But it was kind of a really magical- I don't know, a magical thing to get to explore. All of us had a really amazing time, not to mention that the energy of just like eating food on the land that it was grown on. There's something, there's like a je ne sais quoi to that, you know, that was really special. So, I kind of wanted to do it again and try a different destination. And this idea came up, and let's do it. I have no idea what Icelandic cuisine is like. But I think we could have a good time in this uber fancy room that looks out on whatever body of water is over there with some sort of famous Reykjavík chef, and I was like, oh, this is perfect.

Do you feel like at this point in the band, you guys are the most Disco Biscuits you've ever been? Or is that still a moving target for you?

Huh, I hadn't really thought about that. I mean, I feel like over, you know, the last 10, 15 years we've definitely explored different personas of the band. I think that 2011, 2012 is a perfect example of that. And so, at that moment in time in the music world, the DJs were kind of the rock stars. And there was almost this sense of like, are musicians even going to be wanted anymore, right? I mean, musicians can become producers and create this amazing soundscape with a lot of power because it's pre-produced music, and when it's pre-produced music, you can match it perfectly to production, and then you could scale it down to, just needs to be one guy, one DJ. They might be really talented on an instrument, but they do it all in the studio, and then when they get up there and press play, and it perfectly matches to the LCD screens behind them and everything like that, and Cryo, and it's powerful. And there was a period of time where everybody bought into that, right? It was really powerful to have pre-produced music being performed on stage, and the Disco Biscuits that have always kind of humanized what DJ music has been – that's kind of been at our ethos, right, of performing electronica style music on instruments – we started playing into that a little bit. We started like leaning more towards using computers to kind of help us achieve a certain power and everything. And we were going on tours, that Identity tour, I think in [2011], which was like, us, and we were the black sheep, right? Everybody else were just DJs on that tour. And we were the band that had keyboards, guitars, basses, and drums, and people would like look at us strange. And we definitely felt like the black sheep. And the music wasn't as powerful as these DJs that were coming on afterwards. So, we kind of like tried to crawl into a different type of skin, and I think it took us a couple of years after that to realize that that's not the Disco Biscuits. Yeah, the Disco Biscuits can kind of do that, but the Disco Biscuits are about playing songs that range from “The Very Moon” to “Above the Waves” to “Magellan” and everywhere in between, and it's part of what probably defines any band that’s in the jam bands scene, right? You have this carte blanche when you're a jam band. You want to play in this genre for a song? Or do you want to play in this genre for a song? In fact, you could start the song in one genre, and then go into a jam that's rooted in a completely different genre of music. So, I feel like we've tried to crawl into different skins, and then kept on coming back – though it would take us some time – to, that wasn't who we were, this is who we are, and then getting comfortable with, it's okay, this is who we are, this is what we sound like. And even writing some of some of these songs- You know, I was just reminded, even with “Spaga’s Last Stand,” for instance. So when I wrote that, I was with the lyricist that I talked about earlier, Joey Friedman. And I said to him, I was like, oh, this is my chance. I really wanted to create, like, a cinematic landscape of a song. And this is my opportunity. It's called “Spaga’s Last Stand.” I could do whatever I want in the song. And he kind of let me play, and I used sounds and made it sound like a trailer to like a blockbuster movie or something like that, right? I needed to scratch that itch. And, you know, he kind of kept me focused and was like, hey, this just doesn't sound like a Disco Biscuits song, you know? And I was like, okay, and then that's what kind of refocused us to listening to like, some Harold Faltermeyer. Not to say that Harold Faltermeyer sounds like the Disco Biscuits, but Harold Faltermeyer certainly sounds more like the Disco Biscuits than, you know, Hans Zimmer. Harold Faltermeyer is the composer that wrote themes to like Beverly Hills Cop and Fletch and stuff like that.

You guys are legendary for having this fanatic fan base, and there's this sense about the Disco Biscuits where, you know, you could casually go to a Phish show or casually go to a Dead and Company show maybe, but when you go to a Disco Biscuits show, you're usually there with a group of people who are 100% dialed in to this experience. It really feels like- You know, no one's on their phone at a Disco Biscuits show. There are people there who are like really, really plugged into what's happening in a way that I think even out cults other cultish bands of the jam world. Can you speak to that a little bit? Like, it sort of seems like you guys are still the Wild West in a way for the jam scene.

I love that. Yeah, I mean, I say this phrase a lot, but you know, I feel like our fans are both loyal and rabid. [laughs] They're very much into everything that we do. But they have a certain amount of discretion. Like, you know, we can't- Phish has that saying of like, you know, I could pee into the ear of our fans, and they would love it, right? Like, you know, I don't think that Biscuit fans are like that. And hey, I think that Phish is amazing and they put an incredible amount of time and creativity and energy into what they do to cultivate the scene that they maintain. Completely admirable. So, I'm not saying that in any sort of disparaging way. But yeah, our Biscuit fans have always been hardcore. It's hardcore, yet, inviting. You know, there's not any sort of sense, as far as I can tell, of like, newbie shaming, you know. If anything, it's “welcome to the crazy party.” [laughs]

To take us out, here’s The Disco Biscuits performing “Another Plan Of Attack” – one of the new songs from their forthcoming studio album – in Hartford on November 11th.

You’ve been listening to WAMC’s special interview with keyboardist Aron Magner of the Disco Biscuits. The Philadelphia jam band performs at the Palace Theatre in Albany on February 3rd.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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