The Dismemberment Plan formed in Washington, D.C.
in 1993. Originally they played a quirky version of post-punk
vocals, but they soon ventured into a more indie rock
sound but with even more experimental vocals and elements of funk
, garage rock
, and keyboard grooves
Travis Morrison: vocals, guitar, keyboards (1993-present)
Jason Caddell: guitar, keyboards (1993-present)
Eric Axelson: bass, keyboards (1993-present)
Joe Easley: drums (1993-present)
Steven Cummings: drums (1993-1997(8?))
On New Year's Day 1993, the Plan founders Travis, Jason, Eric, and Steve attempted to fight off their hangovers with a jam session that wouldn't end, resulting in the forming of a new band. Travis and Steve were in a band together in high school, Steve and Eric used to live next door to each other, Eric and Travis had had mutual friends, and Eric went to college with Jason, so the band already had a solid connection.
The first release by the Plan was the "Can We Be Mature" single on Alcove in the spring of 1994. Late in 1994 the Plan began work on their first full-length album for Desoto Records, titled "!"; an indication of how the listener will react upon first listen to the Plan. "!" was somewhat straightforward post-punk without a clear vision of how they should sound. Travis Morrison's vocals lacked a specific personality, at times drifting between stylistic changes like screams and lounge that didn't fit well. But the band as a whole had created a unique sound of groove-based, extremely smart, and quirky post punk that would attract attention.
After "!", The Dismemberment Plan began to better find their niche, focusing on covertly integrating elements of funk, soul, and jazz, and toning down the heavier post punk influence. In 1997's The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified, Morrison's vocals developed into much of what they are today; heart-felt and energetic, drifting from his unique singing voice to beat poetry to raw energy without sounding forced or out of place. However, the band still had not fully established a clear musical focus and sometimes too overtly showed its influences. By this time, though, they had already established their ability to play odd structures and times with the proficiency of a prog rock band.
In 1997 or '98, drummer Steve Cummings left the group, and while he was a good drummer, he was replaced by a fantastic drummer named Joe Easley, who could give the drums a distinct extra groove with a swing-y beat. Easley joined them before the recording of 1998's The Ice of Boston +3 EP, which saw the Plan signing with major label Interscope Records. The EP was recorded to show off some of what was in store with 1999's Emergency & I. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), the deal with Interscope fell through, and the album was delayed until it could be released on Desoto Records, which had been the home of their last two full-lengths. The album is nothing short of a classic. It finally succeeds in creating a superbly creative and original, yet totally cohesive sound to the Plan's music. Whether Easley was the missing piece of the puzzle or the band had reached an inevitable maturity is up for debate, but that the band is better for the addition of Easley is obvious. It is not going too far to say that the Plan had altered people's perception of what music could be, and had at the very least shaken indie rock's foundations.
Not to be complacent with Emergency & I's success, the Plan came back in 2001 with the album Change and did what few have ever done: they not only maintained their position at the peak of their game, but even reached a new peak. Change once again showed that not only did the Plan make smart music; they could craft songs with lyrics and melodies to match anyone.
The Dismemberment Plan tour often and put on one of the craziest, most energetic live shows on the planet. They end virtually every show with an extended jam of Ok, Jokes Over from "!" and always go out of their way to please their fans. On their current tour, the Plan played a different set in Chico, CA than the night before in San Francisco just to please the die-hard fans who had driven up to see them again.
Update 1/22/03: Sadly, TDP called it quits on January 19, 2003. They are to play out the remaining few shows of their current tour, and will likely head out on a farewell US tour and play the occaisonal free concert in D.C. Don't miss your last chance to see the Plan live!
Some recommended tracks to familiarize yourself with the Plan are: Ok, Jokes Over and Wouldn't You Like to Know from "!", The Ice of Boston and Doing the Standing Still from The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified, What do You Want Me to Say and The City from Emergency & I, and Sentimental Man, Superpowers and Time Bomb from Change.
Jawbox, The Pixies, Q and Not U, Brainiac, Talking Heads, Gang of Four, Les Savy Fav, Plug Spark Sanjay, Radio 4
- All Music Guide http://www.allmusic.com