Minimalist rock band goes organic on new album

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Toronto is a hotbed for good bands. However, many remain shrouded in obscurity " including the mostly instrumental ensemble Do Make Say Think.

Despite its large fan base and critical acclaim, the band keeps a low profile.

“Most of the ways to have a high profile are kind of embarrassing,” says Charles Spearin, Do Make Say Think’s bassist and trumpetist. “I think the whole idea of hype and the whole idea of jumping up and down trying to get attention is a little bit beside the point.”

The band has a laissez-faire attitude towards publicity.

“There is a continual sense of a natural growth to the band,”Spearin says. “To sort of jump in and start saying we’re the next big thing and everybody should pay attention to us feels kind of artificial.

“Word of mouth is by far the best way to promote your band because if you’re actually making good music, then people talk about it.

“Nobody’s out shopping our music, [but] I think like-minded people worked their way to us. If that continues to happen, then we’ll welcome it with open arms.”

On its latest release, You, You’re A History In Rust, Do Make Say Think took a new musical approach that has had people buzzing since the album leaked online in December.

“We stayed away from the old analog synthesizers and tried to get a more natural, organic sound, but still spacious,” Spearin says. “There are still some playful aspects in the recording of it " in that we put the drums through guitar amplifiers and things like that. To see if we can pull out some more brown colours in it. We’re quite proud of [the result].”

While You, You’re A History In Rust wasn’t meant to be a concept album, Spearin says it became one during the recording process.

“It was more a sense of what the music was saying to us as we went along,” he says. “There are different elements you hear as you’re going and it’s not necessarily by design. It wasn’t like Pink Floyd’s The Wall or anything.”

Decay and forgetfulness are important themes throughout the album.

“There was a kind of rusty texture to this recording,” Spearin says. “There was a sense of finding beauty in decay, in dirt " that kind of came out in the music.

“[We] brought ourselves to think about the process of decay, the process of things disappearing gradually and unnoticed.”

While these themes are slightly melancholic, Spearin says the album isn’t depressing.

“It’s sort of bittersweet, I guess, and the music never strays too far into self-indulgent misery, but at the same time, it’s not too saccharine and sweet. I think it’s kind of realistic.”

Do Make Say Think’s spatial rock has been featured in movies like Syriana and The Corporation. Spearin says he would love to score a film some day.

“I’ve done some film work, scoring films with Broken Social Scene, and really enjoyed it,” he says. “I think [Do Make Say Think] as a band would be great at scoring a film. So you know it’s quite possible, if [the opportunity] comes along, that we’ll take it.”

The band looks forward to premiering You, You’re A History In Rust onstage tonight.

“We’ve been working on all these new songs that sound really good but we’ve never played them live.”

Do Make Say Think performs with The Riderless tonight at Call The Office. Doors are at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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