The Discord Syndicate on Mergers and Acquisitions EP and science fiction

The Discord Syndicate on Mergers and Acquisitions EP and science fiction
Marshall Franklin Long Photography

Nikki Schultz never thought she would see herself fronting a loud, gnarly rock band. The singer-songwriter has never been comfortable with the idea of the spotlight, anyway, and her previous work as a backing vocalist for local folk artist Chastity Brown doesn't immediately conjure up images of Schultz as a grit-your-teeth rocker.

Nonetheless, Schultz is a surprisingly convincing -- and decidedly fierce -- frontwoman for the new band the Discord Syndicate. The group features lush and atmospheric orchestration, with tracks like "Black Hole Device" and "Call Of The Divine" popping like fiery eulogies for the apocalypse off their debut EP Mergers and Acquisitions. Ahead of the EP's release tonight, Gimme Noise spoke to Schultz.

"I've been pulling from a lot of science fiction imagery, sort of post-apocalyptic, end-of-the-world shit, because I feel like we can do it and I can pull it off," says Schultz, who is the principal lyric-writer. "I definitely read graphic novels, and [watch] old films, like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Carl Sagan and the Cosmos. Really good, post-apocalyptic movies. Bladerunner. Stuff where we're re-imagining where we are in society, where things that you know sort of turn on their head. I think that's really interesting stuff to think about, and it's an interesting space to sort of write from."

The Discord Syndicate has a bright sound with a racing pulse, with just enough reverberating electric guitar chords to be futuristic without being weird. The five songs off Mergers and Acquisitions waste no time in getting big fast, but the songs never misstep, never lose sense of themselves, and are never forgotten to chaos. The young band -- composed of veteran musicians Aaron LeMay (drums), Alex Von Der Hoff (bass), Tom Cheever (guitar), and Jeff Williams (guitar) -- has already mastered the art of tight, controlled progression, and it rests in a listener's ear as sweetly as candy.

And then there's Schultz, with a voice that is such an unexpected match to the rock-symphony of Discord Syndicate that it is perfect. She, too, can expand her vocals like a bird of prey spreading its wings, and her voice soars over lyrics about abandoned cities and guitar riffs that are almost too big to swallow.

"My voice is sort of strange for a rock context, so I've been having some fun playing with that and sort of seeing where that goes," says Schultz. The singer also admits that the loud, in-your-face sound of the Discord Syndicate affords her the confidence to combat stage fright.

"I've always been sort of a reluctant band leader, if that makes sense. I had a hard time doing it when it was just me and a guitar... It just never really clicked for me, it was a nerve-wracking place to be. The songwriting part was a lot of fun, but the performing and the interpreting songs for people and engaging with an audience thing was really... crippling," says Schultz. "But fronting something in a context where things are really loud, it's really fun. I never really would have considered myself to someone to front a loud, almost arena-rock sort of band, but now that I'm doing it, it makes sense."

Schultz and the band might be onto something there. Wherever she may have been before, things are certainly clicking now. The Discord Syndicate sounds like no other band right now, and that point of differentiation will appeal to new fans across genres--from gnarly rockers to heady lyrics junkies. Not a bad starting point.

Join the Discord Syndicate at their EP release show for Mergers and Acquisitions this Friday night, November 9, at Memory Lanes, with support from Nightosaur, Orion & the Extraterrestrials, and Frankincense. 10 p.m. 21+. No cover. 

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