Published Jan 01, 2006Do Make Say Think play the kind of music you might want sound-tracking your life. For starters their cinematic instrumental sound defies the three- to four-minute constraints of a formulaic pop song. According to drummer James Payment, their sound is best described by what it isn't. "We have a common musical awareness of what we don't want. Making instrumental music we walk a fine line. You go too much in one direction, you make it sound like acid jazz; you go another direction it sounds like post rock, prog rock or something. We know what we don't want to do, we know where that line exists and stay clear of the pitfalls."
They're composed of five members that include two drummers (David Mitchell, Payment), two guitarists (Justin Small, Ohad Benchetrit) and bass (Charles Spearin) along with contributions from GUH composer, trumpeter Brian Cram - it all leads to a dense, rich sound. In meeting the Toronto-based band (with the exception of Justin who commutes to gigs from his new home in Montreal) one can sense an intimacy between these distinct personalities, in the way they exchange cryptic gestures and meaningful glances, like a relationship of long standing. & Yet & Yet is their third album, and, understandably the band is a little self-conscious after the strong reception to their second release. "Once you take your songs and travel them around the world," Justin Small explains, "and get the response, approval and respect from people, it puts a lot of pressure on and you want to make [fans] proud. We also want to do each other proud. For the most part it's a more self-conscious record."
Word on their self-titled debut album got around through frequent gigging, airplay on Toronto and surrounding area community radio stations and word of mouth. Though largely unspectacular, the first album featured "If I Only...," a ray of promise that foreshadowed musical maturity to come. Their second album, Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead - on Montreal's Constellation Records, home of Godspeed You Black Emperor! - was a quantum leap forward. Recorded in a barn, Goodbye... was a gloriously sprawling, yet saturated album that defined their sound. Drummer Dave Mitchell reflects "I think it's just different phases. The first album was where we reached cohesion; everybody is together. The second album was where we were becoming ourselves and it took a long time. It would have been nice to have this new album done a bit quicker, but it's got to sound great, so we ended up taking as much time as we did."
Though the band members praise the music of John Coltrane, they are rockers at heart. Each met the other through punk and metal bands dating back at least 15 years before forming the Do Make's. In fact, all share a common influence. "I would have to say that the five core members of Do Make Say Think all list Metallica's Master of Puppets on our top ten albums," Payment reveals. "And that's what this new album is like for us. It's our Master of Puppets."
& Yet & Yet is their most accomplished effort to date, this time with a cleaner studio sound. Though the new album is more focused and restrained, the band has not lost their rawness, nor intensity. They are as unencumbered by musical constraints as ever and have truly refined their sound's elusive quality.
"& Yet & Yet had the same spirit as the last record, especially during recording," Spearin says. "There's still a sense of urgency and spontaneity. That was the idea in a way - we didn't want to lose any of the organic feel of the last record."
One track the Do Make's were particularly excited about was "Soul & Onward" the first track they did with (lyricless) vocals by Toronto artist and sometime King Cobb Steelie vocalist Tamara Williamson. "It happened on the spot and then we called in Tamara and were kind of nervous about it," Small explains. "But she's got such a gorgeous voice and it was beautiful."
Now the band is psyching themselves up for a several gigs, including as part of Exclaim!'s Cross-Canada Concert Series in Ottawa on April 5; they're planning an extensive tour of North America and Europe this fall. "When you're on tour, you're playing for 40 days straight and by the end of the tour you're on fire. There are certainly limitations that occur when playing live but are eradicated with the discipline that comes from playing a lot." As for pushing the new record Charles concluded, "We've found common ground on what we like and we can accept as good and this is it. It's very much a band effort. A collection of different people's ideas."