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Do Make Say Think

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Charles Spearin, Ohad Benchetrit, Justin Small, am: 17.12.2009 ]

Es gab Zeiten, da wurde mit dem Begriff des Post-Rock geradezu inflationär umgegangen. Diese Zeiten sind zum Glück vorbei. Jetzt kann man sich wieder auf eine fast schon überschaubare Anzahl an Bands konzentrieren, die diesem Genre zu neuem Glanz verhelfen. Dabei ist das kanadische Kollektiv Do Make Say Think seit fast über 15 Jahren damit beschäftigt, ihre eigene musikalische Nische zwischen elegischen Spannungsbögen und wagnerianischem Pathos auszuloten. Dies ist der Band mit ihrem aktuellen Album „Other Truths“ übrigens wieder hervorragend gelungen. Wir sprachen mit Charles, Ohad und Justin über die Vorteile eines Kollektivs, Toronto und Klang als Kommunikation.


Musicscan: Since you are all heavily involved in other musical projects, I was wondering what led you to record another Do Make Say Think album? What makes this band special to you personally? What do you find here that you do not find in any of your other projects?

Do Make Say Think: Do Make Say Think has been a band for almost 15 years and by now we basically consider ourselves a family. We argue, we discuss and we laugh a lot. The process of songwriting and recording is like a semi-dysfunctional family getting together for Christmas dinner. There’s a lot of shouting, everyone brings a dish, and we walk away with mixed feelings. But we somehow feel we need to keep going because in a way we’ve grown up together. Ultimately we are just people who make music together and calling ourselves a band and giving ourselves a name is only necessary because of how people need to relate to music. They need to put the whole thing in a box and put it on the shelf so they can get it when they need it. But in reality the whole thing is much more human and alive. We play in other bands, that is true, but it is all just a part of living as musicians.

Musicscan: Compared to your previous efforts “Other Truths” seems almost like a pop album in terms of the harmonies and melodies. Would you agree? What were some of the artists that were in your mind space when you worked on these songs?

Do Make Say Think: There is a saying that sometimes Justin and myself (Ohad) bring up, “Melody is god”. I don’t know if we were making any effort to reference other artists, so much as reminding ourselves of the importance of melody (to us) and the weight it can carry. If that comes through as having a pop sensibility, it wasn’t a conscious decision on our part. In fact I would say we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we we’re making our least commercial/pop record yet.

Musicscan: How do you feel about your first album in retrospect? Do you sometimes listen to your own work?

Do Make Say Think: There is a lot more space in the first record. I think we were trying to prove a point, that music does not have to be consumed like junk food, it has the potential to reflect life in a much more complete and honest way. Allowing space for introspection can be much more rewarding then filling every crack. Our music these days is also a reflection of our lives but in a different way. It is more dense and perhaps a little anxious but there is some kind of wisdom in the way we fit it all in together. Like packing the van after a show.

Musicscan: What does music communicate? In how far do you think sounds can carry concrete semantics?

Do Make Say Think: Music is abstract but emotions are abstract too, so they fit well together well. The terms “happy” or “angry” are poor approximations of our different feelings and sometimes a collection of notes resonate much truer then language can offer. In writing music we are exploring these resonances to see what we can find.

Musicscan: What makes for the perfect song in your opinion? Have you ever achieved something like a perfect song in your opinion? How would you define a perfect song?

Do Make Say Think: A perfect song is one that exposes our true nature. It shows us where we are fooling ourselves and where we are wise. It liberates us from delusion and feels better then a thousand orgasms. It leaves us in tears and with a smile of pure understanding and leaves us seeing the world as we have never seen it before while at the same time closing the door behind us so that we will never fool ourselves again. It wakes up our hearts and minds so that all dogma and philosophy evaporate into nothingness. And in the end we are ordinary and honest and yet and yet…I have never heard a perfect song.

Musicscan: When do you know that a song or an album is finished? Do you tend to re-arrange a lot after the first recordings or do you mostly stick with early versions?

Do Make Say Think: Zeno’s Paradox: That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal. The halfway stage could then be looked at as the beginning and, since there are an infinite number of halfways, one will never reach ones goal. This is a cheeky way of saying that none of our records ever feel finished.

Musicscan: Is it necessary to create a certain distance between you and the music in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality?

Do Make Say Think: Absolutely. I never really know what an album is about until a year or so after it’s done. There is so much intensity at the time of recording that it is impossible to be objective. Listening to our old records is a bit like looking through old family photo albums. When you’re looking at pictures of Christmas dinner, you don’t care that the potatoes weren’t cooked well enough, you just notice looks on peoples faces.

Musicscan: What is the difference between art and entertainment in your opinion?

Do Make Say Think: There is none really. It’s how it is perceived. Art is supposed to have more heart. More passion, but sometimes art is simply just entertaining. Is porn art? Yes. Is art entertainment? Yes. Is entertainment commerce? Yes.

Musicscan: What is the biggest compliment someone could give you as far as your music is concerned?

Do Make Say Think: That they find meaning in it. Whatever they feel is genuine.

Musicscan: Do you ever read reviews or features about yourself?  What do you think about the state of cultural criticism or music criticism to be more precise these days?

Do Make Say Think: Sometimes. There is so much going on in terms of the internet and with blogs it’s hard to gauge what is real criticism and what is simply opinion. I’m glad more people have a voice that can be heard but that also means more people who are full of shit giving advice and opinion that don’t mean anything. You’d have to decide for yourself what to believe.

Musicscan: Why is music a privileged form of expression for you as opposed to other artistic avenues? What makes music special in this regard?

Do Make Say Think: I think music just sort of happened. I (Justin) love to paint as well. But you get different reactions from within yourself depending on how feel. Music is immediate … the reaction, often intense. That’s why I love it. You can pour a lot of energy into it and get much more in return in a very short amount of time.

Musicscan: What effect do you think does the accessibility of music have on the music itself? Do you think music might be valued differently nowadays because it’s basically free for everyone and one does not necessarily have to engage with any of its context in order to appreciate it?

Do Make Say Think: I think we as artists can appreciate music in its creative context. In terms of the rest of the world? I don’t know. Perhaps if more people cared to buy vinyl there would be more care taken in how music is presented. Good album art. Nice packages. Mp3 players and ipods and such don’t have any charm. Sure they hold a lot of information, but music is more than that. It deserves to be seen as much as heard. I always advise people to visit their closest record store.

Musicscan: What can we expect from Do Make Say Think in the near future?

Do Make Say Think: More loud noises. And maybe some quiet ones too.

  Do Make Say Think
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