Uniting elements of electronic dance music with more traditional forms of American rock, the Disco Biscuits have long established themselves as one of the most exciting - and influential - touring bands in the country. In the late 90s, the band pioneered a unique style of music, often referred to as "trance-fusion," that distinguished them from their peers, while heavily influencing an entire generation of younger "livetronica" acts.
It's now been more than 10 years since guitarist Jon Gutwillig, bassist Marc Brownstein, keyboardist Aron Magner, and original drummer Sam Altman first formed the Disco Biscuits from within the ivy walls of the University of Pennsylvania. Since then (and with Allen Aucoin now on drums, following his victory at a Bisco firing squad drum-off at Atlantic City's Borgata Casino in 2005), the band has repeatedly sold out many of the nation's most prestigious venues and are a proven draw at U.S. festivals, earning key slots at majors such as Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Along the way, they've accumulated cover stories (Relix Magazine), accolades (Jammy Award for "Jam of the Year"), and hit videos ("Caterpillar;" MTV Latin America).
The Disco Biscuits' live show has developed from a regional nightclub attraction to a full on American experience. As Brownstein explains, "There's this deep, fun-loving community built around the band that's a decade old and which extends throughout the entire country. When we go anywhere, there's something else going on that's not just about the band and the music, but it's a part of a greater experience."
Standard rock concerts have become formulaic showcases where bands support their latest album by performing new songs amidst a selection of greatest hits. The Disco Biscuits, on the other hand, use their shows to create an entirely new album every night, in front of a live audience. Gutwillig equates it to watching a painter craft an image from scratch, using just a palette and a muse. "It's unlike buying the art, where it's already painted," he says. "It's watching the paint getting thrown on the canvas in a frenzy. And we're doing it with dance beats and we're doing it with grooves and we're trying to make it as exciting as possible. It's almost like getting cars into a field with cameras and just shooting a high-speed chase right there on the spot. What we're trying to do, for the observer, is to make the most awesome, exciting, high-speed chase that they could possibly watch. And we're trying to do it in a way that makes everyone feel like they went there, they lived it, and they felt it deep inside. That's our goal."
At the end of each summer, the Disco Biscuits host the largest live electronica event of its kind in the country. Called "Camp Bisco," the festival has featured electro superstars (Amon Tobin, Infected Mushroom), live bands (Umphrey's McGee, Brazilian Girls), hip-hop acts (The Roots, Slick Rick), and even weekend-long games of "color wars" organized and run by the fans.
Beyond just making music, the band is involved in community & political outreach. Brownstein is a co-founder and co-chair of HeadCount, a non-profit voter registration organization that registered nearly 50,000 new voters at live concerts in 2004 and aims to register 200,000 additional voters for the 2008 election. In addition to the Disco Biscuits, HeadCount has received support and involvement from a number of top-tiered touring acts, including the Dave Matthews Band and Phil Lesh & Friends, while members of the Grateful Dead, moe., and Leftover Salmon sit on its board of directors.