Notre Dame de Grâce (N.D.G), sarcastically referred to as "No Damn Good", is a working-class district on the west side of Montreal. It is home to Italians, Irish, Caribbean and immigrants from dozens of other countries, all well represted by ethnic restaurants, corner stores and bars on Sherbrooke St. West, which cuts right through the heart of N.D.G. If you were a kid in 1980-83 in N.D.G. you probably would have been scared by the Discords. They hung out in most of the neighbourhood parks, and spray-painted their name in all the lanes and alleys around their stomping grounds where Sherbrooke St., Côte St. Antoine and Royal Ave. meet.
They had one good reason to hang out in Hampton Park: three of the band members worked at Crown Carpets just across the street. According to guitarist Dave Valente, they had a reputation as a tough band, and they could and did back it up during shows. "Yeah, most of us played sports and worked out. When we worked at Crown Carpets we'd spend the day cutting and moving heavy rolls of carpet. Knockin' a few heads together was no big deal after that." Incidentally, it was during a lunch break at Crown that Valente and singer Tim Hindley wrote the Discords' anthem "N.D.G.", one of the best known Montreal punk songs.
Valente and drummer Frank Heidt started the band sometime in 1980, and quickly recruited the Hindley brothers, whom they'd known since they were seven or eight years old. Dave had the most talent of all the members and taught Tim how to play bass. "He played upside-down, left-handed, just like a punk Hendrix." At this point Tim Hindley was 20, and the other band members were in their late teens. They started jamming in drummer Frank Heidt's basement, where Heidt's mom put up with them for about three months. In the beginning they covered mostly the Ramones and British bands such as the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Sham 69, and the Business. The only Canadian band that Hindley was really enthusiastic about was the Subhumans from Vancouver.
After Heidt's mom kicked them out of her basement, they rented a practice space and crash pad at Sherbrooke and Wilson in N.D.G. According to Hindley the practice space was a sweatbox - around six by eight feet - where they crammed their gear, themselves and friends.
Informal jams at punk parties became too popular, so the Discords started playing some of the local punk dives such as the Nelson Hotel, Station 10 and the Lasalle Hotel. According to Hindley, for the first five shows they used borrowed equipment, thrashing it up: "Over the years I broke at least seven or eight mike stands. The odd time i had to kick a few guys in the face because they were spitting on me. There was lots of violence in the scene. The shows were pretty violent, all the boys were pretty violent." Whenever they played with other bands they measured themselves against them in wildness and craziness: "Talent didn't mean shit. We wanted to see how tough they were."
Valente remembers one gig at the Nelson Hotel well: "This guy was flicking cigarette butts at me throughout our set. I gestured to him to cut it out, and by the end of our set I was just about to smash him with my guitar when Timmy pulled me back and took care of him with a flying kick to the chest. After the show the guy came up to us and said it was the best gig he'd ever been to!"
The Discords didn't play too many spots supporting headlining bands for a simple reason according to Hindley: "We didn't want to have anything to do with the music establishment that ruled the bigger venues. The whole idea was to get up and do it yourself. It wasn't about fame or making money. If we made three-hundred bucks a night we spent it on beer for our friends."
The Discords didn't have a manager for the same reason - they didn't want one. "Why hookup with some asshole who's gonna make money off you and who doesn't even believe in what you're doing? Monday to Thursday we partied with our friends. Friday and Saturday we played for them." Still, they had aspirations to get out of the local scene, managing to make it to Ottawa (for a gig on December 11th, 1982) where they played with, among others, Youth Youth Youth, Porcelain Forehead and Civil Terror, and in Toronto, where they played the Edgewater Hotel at Queen St. and Roncesvalles.
In the summer of 1982 a friend of Valente's lined up a recording deal with a studio in Morin Heights, north of Montreal: $1000 for 1000 records, including the recording. The money, incidentally, was raised through drug deals. The four songs on the record were taped right off the floor in one take. While they were recording their anti-police classic "R.C.M.P." the engineer piped up: "Hey, I gotta play this one for brother-in-law, he's an R.C.M.P. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer." This might explain why the Discords didn't spend too long finishing the recording or polishing the tracks in the mixing studio.
One highlight of the EP is "N.D.G.", which is still being covered by some Montreal punk bands. The song started as a riff Dave bashed out on an acoustic guitar. Tim threw in a few lines about growing up in N.D.G. ("They're never going to leave you alone/Not when they know you're an anglophone"), and the song was born. "The words just came out," says Hindley. "I'd be surprised if it took 25 minutes to write it. It's quite an anthem for any N.D.G. kid who had to walk the same line. It's all about our upbringing. With all the trouble I got into in Montreal I never met one English cop. They treated us pretty rough, those fuckers. They still do the same thing today - beat the living shit out of guys for nothing. Just the other day there was news footage of a Montreal cop grinding a guy's face into the ground with his boot. He only stopped because he saw the cameraman. It's got to be the worst police force out there."
All copies of the single came with a lyric sheet, which Dave, Terry and Frank wrote up. Because they were juvenile deliquents, and some of them had fairly lengthy police records, there was no interest in doing a picture sleeve that would tell the world who they were, or worse, feature pictures of theselves. They didn't want anyone getting in touch with them.
They dumped off copies of the EP in a few local record shops and mailed a bunch to England, but were too lazy to follow up and collect the money. "They were basically given away. We probably got $30 out of one store. That was about it." Interestingly, when Strength Through Oi Volume 3 came out in England it featured the beginning of "N.D.G." as an intro.
As more and more suburban kids joined the downtown punk scene, the Discords had to up the ante: "When the Oi movement came out we went in for the skinhead thing. It wasn't a racist thing at all: we all loved Ska music. We had Rasta friends in the neighbourhood who were from Jamaica and Barbados. Jimmy Cliff's film 'The Harder they Come' is one of my favourite films."
Still, Hindley was pissed off at "all these kids who came in from middle-class homes. They had everything I wanted. I didn't see any reason for them to rebel. They all had dyed hair and peirced ears and I said 'Fuck that, it ain't the same anymore.' So when the Oi movement came out we started skinning to look different. To stay one step ahead. So we took the attitude 'Try that. Skin your head in front of your mom.'"
Hindley continues, "It was tough then because everyone was gunning for us. The cops, the parents, the teachers. Nobody liked the punk rockers. Bus and taxi drivers wouldn't stop for you. That was the worst part - there was nobody on your side. But we had fun with it. That's what comes from growing up in N.D.G. Who's the craziest? Who's the wildest? Who's the toughest and the meanest?"
"There was a lot of fighting in those days. We'd walk past a place like Sir Winston Churchill Pub in downtown Montreal. Ten guys would come out and bait us. We'd just run in the lane pretending we were afraid, and set them up. They'd come after us and we'd bombared them with rocks." Even when he a lot younger Hindley was fearless: "I had nothing to do when i was eight or nine years old, so I'd throw snowballs at cop cars in the winter, rocks in the summer. They'd never catch me - I was too quick. All the kids in the neighbourhood did that. There was definitely a big hate-hate relationship between us and the cops."
The Discords cut other demos later in 1982, six months after the record was recorded. Tim often bankrolled the whole band with drug money. He was heavily into the "black" (hash). Other band members were into the "white" (heroin). That wasn't the extent of their criminal activities either. Some of the guys were doing B&Es (break and enter) and even knocking off banks. "It's just the way it was. Who's going to work for $20 an hour when you can hand the teller a note and get $2500?"
By the time they opened for the Exploited in early February 1983, Hindley was fed up. He owned all the instruments and was responsible for arranging gigs, and keeping the band members motivated. "I called the guys together just before we went on and said 'Okay boys, this is it - our last show.' "
Valente remembers the show well: "Timmy wanted to let our friends in free (the show cost $9) but the promoter said 'No way.' He wouldn't give in so he called S.C.U.M. (a Montreal hardcore band) and asked them to play. They didn't have their equipment handy so the promoter asked Timmy if S.C.U.M. could use our equipment. Timmy was enraged and screamed 'How many ways do you wanna die!?' The guy backed down so Timmy ran out front, threw the doors open and said 'Let's Go! Free punk show!' and all our friends ran in."
The Discords played for about half an hour in front of a huge upside-down Canadian flag bearing the band name and the slogans "Kill the Rich Pigs" and "In No One We Trust." After kicking their instruments over they split, thus ending the career of undoubtedly the toughest Canadian punk band ever.
The Discords continued jamming for awhile and toyed with the idea of gigging as the D.U.D.S - Discords Under Disguise, Stupid! to avoid the notoriety that prevented them from playing most Montreal clubs. Although the EP's lyric sheet announced a forthcoming two-song single - "FTW (Fuck The World)" b/w "Pogo on a Mod" - it never came out.