Disq Account Registration – Tone Madison

In the busy basement studio of Logan Severson and Isaac deBroux-Slone.

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Thousands of dollars worth of instruments and recording gear collected over the years shone under Christmas lights in a dimly lit basement.

“It’s not like we’re recording Nirvana or anything.”

Logan Severson said that before he realized that I’m narcissistic enough to think I’m the next Kurt Cobain.


The room we found ourselves in looked like what musicians entering Smart Studios in the late 80s would have found: dark, comfortable, lots of pedals, an overwhelming amount of amplifiers.

I met Severson a few years ago. I thought it was cool that he plays guitar and sings in the band Disq, which is signed to independent label Saddle Creek. Little did I know that his work in music went back much further.

At the time, my band, Mickey Sunshine, didn’t exist. Now I was in the house that Severson shares with another Disq member, Isaac deBroux-Slone. with me were noted Madison drummer Chris Di Bernardo, Mickey Sunshine’s manager and my fiancé, guitarist Skylar Nahn, Tony Duvall (the band’s original bassist) and Alex Kaiser (our new bassist). We were recording our first EP.

My friend, Tim Anderson from Able Baker, worked with Severson and deBroux-Slone on his 2021 EP, spiral songs, and strongly recommended that I work with Severson. The two had made a name for themselves locally, also working with artists like Interlay and Graham Hunt. My low-concept, high-concept post-grunge band was about to be added to their growing roster of Midwestern musicians.

Severson has been interested in recording music since he started playing it at an early age. As soon as he was able to get his hands on the GarageBand music production software in school, he spent much of his free time recording his friends with different instruments, his bands, his friends’ bands, experimenting with microphones and learning along the way.

“One of my favorite early bands of all time was Nirvana and as soon as I found out they were recording music here in Madison, you know, that was it,” Severson says. “We used to come here, me and my friends, just to see Smart Studios.”

In 2015, Severson moved to Madison from Lake Mills and studied briefly at the Madison Media Institute, continuing to hone his craft.

Soon after, he met deBroux-Slone, who, along with Disq co-founder Raina Bock, eventually asked him to join the band. Recording music has always been a fundamental part of their relationship, but they began to take it more seriously when Severson moved in with deBroux-Slone.

“It’s a great way to stay active and be part of the Madison scene, which is an underrated music scene if you ask me,” Severson says.

Since then, the two have recorded around 20 bands together, and things seem to be looking up in their basement studio. Alongside Severson’s work with Mickey Sunshine, deBroux-Slone is currently working on an album for Mission Trip, an indie post-punk shoegaze band.

“It’s always been very special to me — the idea of ​​Smart Studios and them starting out fostering the scene — the Midwest scene, the Madison scene,” Severson says.

In 1983 Butch Vig and Steve Marker founded Smart Studios, recording a host of regional and local bands (including Killdozer, Die Kreuzen and Rainer Maria) and making a national mark through their work with artists ranging from L7 to Sparklehorse. The building along East Wash, once home to a whole range of gritty and aggressive sounds, has changed hands a few times and the ground floor is now a airbnb kitsch.


Like Smart Studios, the Disq duo keeps recording affordable for musicians, as most are just friends they want to help support. Their duties, which may begin and end simply with recording the bands and their songs, sometimes expand to the point of producing a session, offering creative input, or even playing instruments on the sessions.

“Getting the best possible performance out of some big, big bands – that’s the best part, for sure,” Severson says.

Mickey Sunshine spent the first of our four-day session playing the songs as a group with Severson behind the board, getting a rough recording, and offering little suggestions. Much of his commentary came from his research on Mickey Sunshine before the recording session.

“I think it’s important to have some understanding of the group ahead of time,” Severson said.

He listened to my demos since I knew him. He spent time hanging out and getting to know the rest of Mickey Sunshine, as well as attending a live show.

“From there you sort of start to have a picture, like okay, so that’s what they look like live – that’s what we’re really looking for – but we want it to be broadcast from the best possible way,” he says. “Imagine a live show in a perfect setting.”

Along with his background, Severson picked up some tips from working with producers and engineers who were involved in creating Disq’s sound. While recording Disq’s 2020 debut at Saddle Creek, Collectorhe had the opportunity to work with one of his idols in the studio.

“Just watching Rob Schnapf, who recorded Elliott Smith, do what he does was so mesmerizing,” Severson recalled. “It promotes good ideas and the environment. I tried to study those tiny little things that you would never notice until you did. He’s quiet about it, but he always puts artists at ease. I was largely inspired by it. »

While recording the next Disq album, Desperately imagining a quiet place, released on October 7, Severson had another chance to learn from a producer he admired. Matt Schuessler designed Collectorand served as both engineer and producer for Desperately. He has also worked on recordings by Mdou Moctar, X and Steve Gunn, among others. Severson says working with Schuessler has been particularly instructive when it comes to production and post-production tricks.

“We really try to get a performance that comes across honestly,” Severson says.

As an artist, I noticed that Severson put me at ease and understood me. His engineering qualities were evident. During our fourth session, when I was recording my guitar parts, I almost cried. Undamaged, it was already close to a perfect capture of what I wanted to create.

The following day, Disq performed at Orton Park Fest, before launching a short opening tour for Neko Case. They played some old favorites, as well as some new cuts from the upcoming album. The record was a new attempt for the band, with an even split between four different songwriters.

As Disq tours through the winter months, Mickey Sunshine will put the finishing touches on the EP, which is due out in early 2023.

It’s easy to reduce Smart Studios’ legacy to the shorthand of Nirvana, Garbage and The Smashing Pumpkins. But the impression it left on Severson, 12 years after closing up shop on East Wash, has more to do with collaboration and support within the local music community.

“If there’s any truth to that, it’s that we definitely want to promote something similar, you know,” he says. “As for helping the scene and stuff like that, that’s what I feel the best about.”

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