This pain worse than death
I just ran away
But you can't always rise from the dead
“The End of Rebirth”
A Broken Tomorrow
For all the accolades Discordance Axis enjoyed in Japan, the trio of drummer Dave Witte, vocalist Jon Chang and guitarist Rob Marton had never toured the country together. After The Inalienable Dreamless came out, the band began making preparations for the first Japanese tour of the integral lineup. However, as with the Jouhou tour, Marton was forced to drop out at the last minute as a result of his health.
“After the recording we were prepping for another Japanese tour that didn’t pan out for me. That was the point where I said enough was enough,” Marton said. “I had to put my health first. I really wanted to do it, but I couldn’t. I just felt I was going to impact my health too much and I stopped.”
As before, Discordance Axis pressed Human Remains guitarist Steve Procopio into service as Marton’s last minute replacement. Though he capably stepped into the guitar role, Chang said Procopio created a different dynamic for the band, bringing in different shadings to the songs.
“That was going to be a big thing because we had never done that as a band before,” Chang said of the tour. “[Marton] basically dropped out and we brought in Steve Procopio. … Steve was a great guitar player. He’s still a great guitar player. He’s got his own sound. It’s not the Rob Marton sound. It gave it all a different sound when we played it live.”
Marton’s decision to quit as a result of his tinnitus signaled the end of Discordance Axis. Though he dropped off the tour, the trio reunited for one last recording session, banging out “Ikaruga” which would be released as part of the Our Last Day collection, comprised largely of bands covering Discordance Axis songs as well as the first new track from Chang’s new band, GridLink.
“Everybody just went and did their own thing and just forgot about it,” Witte said. “Rob needed a break.”
At the time Discordance Axis recorded The Inalienable Dreamless, Witte, who always has several projects going, was also playing in Major Burns, Burnt by the Sun and Black Army Jacket.
“I was an idiot,” Witte said. “I always had multiple pans on the stove. I was restless. I had so many ideas I had to get them out of me.”
The End of Rebirth
Discordance Axis was effectively over when the band returned from the Japan tour, but they played what would be their final show in New York City on Mother’s Day in 2001. After grinding to full houses in Japan, where Discordance Axis had always found a receptive audience, playing to 50 people on a slate of seven bands was an anticlimactic denouement to the band’s career.
“Honestly, I didn't even want to do the last U.S. show,” Chang said. “We had come off an amazing Japan tour that we were not going to top with a U.S. performance, but Dave wanted to do it and I was sick of arguing. In retrospect, I'm really glad we played for the five people who came (not including the other bands). That way we could lose at least some of the money we made on the Japan tour and still come out broke in the end.”
Chang said that final show was “an unfortunate ending” for Discordance Axis.
“It was over when Rob said he was done. I think Dave and I agreed that without Rob, we couldn't write any new songs that would be DA songs,” Chang said. “Throughout the years, with guys stepping into/out of roles in the band, it was only the chemistry and sound between the three of us that made DA what it was. There were a lot of talented people who came/went as second guitar, touring guitar or drums, but it never sounded right unless it was the three original members.”
Witte agrees the band would never have been able to carry on without Marton in tow.
“Rob’s the total unsung hero in that band,” he said “People like my drumming and my beats and go apeshit over Jon’s screaming, but Rob anchored that band. He made it what it was. He’s a great blues guitar player. He wasn’t a full on metal guitar player. He’s great at it. His down picking is unbelievable. His combination of elements made him who he was.”
The Inalienable Dreamless’ reputation has only grown after the band’s demise and the two songs they recorded for Our Last Day brought a sharper, more knifelike tone to Marton’s guitar, adding a new dimension to Discordance Axis. Our Last Day also leaves fans—and the band—wondering what would have become of a fourth album, whether they would have been able to maintain or even exceed the bar they had set for themselves with The Inalienable Dreamless.
Ultimately, recording two final songs rather than a full album of material was a relief for Witte.
“It was fun going in there just to be able to focus on one song,” he said. “Let’s just bust this out. It was the same thing. Rob sent me the song and I added the drums.”
Discordance Axis has halfheartedly discussed reuniting since The Inalienable Dreamless, but the conversations have never come to fruition. At this point the trio doubts a reunion would be feasible as they’ve moved on to other musical projects and new interests.
“That’s our definitive moment for sure,” Witte said. “Could we get any better? We don’t know. Did we care? We don’t know. Then we did ‘Ikaruga’ and that song held its own. We would have still strived to do what we wanted to do.”
See You Next Life, Thrash Cowboy
Though it was essentially Marton’s decision to end the band, the guitarist has not remained idle in the 12 years since he wrote a grindcore masterpiece in The Inalienable Dreamless. He said he’s constantly tinkering with new music, perhaps a little more traditionally metal than what Discordance Axis fans may be accustomed to. One day, he said, he may pick up the phone and, like he did in 1999, dial Witte’s number to discuss a new batch of songs.
“I’m always writing, and I have a bunch of material,” Marton said. “I’m always threatening to send Dave stuff. I have a whole range of music I’d like to unleash on him. Life always intervenes. I’m getting close.”