PUNK ROCK MULLIGAN 


;"We got a do-over," laughs Sam Johnson. The vocalist/guitarist for local hardcore band New Mexican Disaster Squad is talking about the recording process for the group's latest album, Don't Believe, but he could just as easily be referring to the second chance NMDS is getting in the world of national independent labels.

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;In 2003, New Mexican Disaster Squad released their second album on A-F Records, a label helmed by members of Anti-Flag. The self-titled disc was more contained and focused than the explosive ferocity of their self-released debut, but it still captured the essence of NMDS' 1980s-hardcore-influenced sound. Nonetheless, personal tensions between the band and members of Anti-Flag (no doubt exacerbated by Johnson's antics while on the road opening for A-F), combined with a late-in-coming realization that A-F Records might not have been the right aesthetic fit, meant that they were begging to be let out of their contract. Even though they had no place to go.

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;"Last spring, after we left A-F, we went up to New York and got ourselves a spec deal with a studio where we only paid half of the recording costs so we'd have something to push to different labels," says Johnson. "The thing was, I was sick the whole time. And when we got the tracks back, the vocals were terrible and we also realized that it wasn't really the record that we wanted to make at that point."

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;The record they did end up making — Don't Believe — was the result of a lightning-fast writing process (11 new songs in two months) and more comfortable recording sessions (recorded in Orlando on the band's own, illness-free schedule). Released May 9 on renowned indie label Jade Tree — the label Johnson says he had originally hoped to release their debut on — the disc splits the difference between the off-the-rails intensity of the debut and the solidity of the A-F release.

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;"The premeditated idea for the new record was to take all the crappy stuff out of the record we just did and take all the good parts of our old records — the fast stuff, the real ripping stuff — and put it together," says Johnson. "The new record is much more of a continuation of what we've been doing — instead of this other direction we might have gone in. There were some things [on the unreleased record] that were a little too ambitious for our musical abilities.

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;"We wanted good, short and punchy songs," he continues. "And having written these songs really quickly, that's how they came out. There are a lot of bands that put everything they've got into one song — all the highs, all the lows — and we thought it was way cooler to make an entire album with all those ups and downs."

;;;New Mexican Disaster Squad, with The Lords, Polluted Youth - 8 PM Monday at the Social, $8 music@orlandoweekly.com

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