When you hear a band for the first time and one of your first thoughts is ‘this lot are going to be important’, it’s a pretty special feeling. London three-piece Doe blew me away about 18 months ago when I got round to listening to their EP compilation First Four; it’s the perfect mix of pop sensibilities, jagged angst and cynicism-fuelled passion.
It’s not as if super slick melodies and vitriol have never been mixed well before, but Doe’s effortless execution is something else. And if the new songs are anything to go by, the band’s debut album is going to take both the pop and the ire up a notch.
Doe are back at Scene Better Days Fest this year, so we thought it a good idea to catch up with the band and chat about the new record, the ultimate gig line-up and their thoughts on both last year’s event and this year’s festival.
You have a new record – your first full-length – coming out in September. How did you find the writing process? Did you feel any pressure to better the songs on First Four?
Nicola: Weirdly, writing songs for the album felt the least pressured, as previously we’d only done short format releases for which it felt we had to write the catchiest thing possible. First Four was just a bunch of songs put together, so it was really satisfying writing a set of songs to form a cohesive piece. It also felt like we were able to write more for ourselves, with a view of ‘well, if they don’t like this one there’s nine others’.
Dean: I found the writing process super organic. We’d usually make rough plans before meeting, then I’d take the train to Doe HQ and we’d sit around and play for a bit. Nicola and Jake always had chord progressions and hooks in mind, so we’d start with those then all add stuff until it felt right. My fav thing about writing the album was that it felt really collaborative, like, I wasn’t just writing parts and throwing them at other parts. Everything was a group effort. As for First Four, that’s a totally different release with a totally different vibe so I wouldn’t wanna compare. As both a (previous) fan and (current) member of the band though, I think Some Things shows progression and maturity and all that good junk. It’s essentially wall-to-wall bangers (and one ballad).
Jake: Nicola and I had started writing odds and ends earlier last year so already had some of the songs down in skeleton form. When Dean joined and the three of us sat down to properly write the record together it was so exciting seeing those skeletons kinda shapeshift and come to life. We all just had our heads in the same place and it felt very natural. The whole process was really fun. Also we combined all our writing sessions with a lot of eating, which is always good.
Your new album is called Some Things Last Longer than You. What is that a reference to?
Dean: Nicola wrote that line so don’t take what I say as gospel BUT I like to think of it as some kinda gentle reminder. Our lives are pretty short and although they have meaning, they’re small fry compared to the universe. Essentially, try not to take yourself too seriously ‘cause the cosmos is deeper than you, but also take comfort in the fact that you’re this small cute thing nestled in space and time. Everlasting endlessness forever.
Nicola: It works as both an internal reassurance and an external affirmation, which kind of covers the themes across the songs. It’s a bit early to explain without people having heard the album yet but it just felt right, man.
Do you think you write songs differently to other bands who have a bass player? Are you conscious of the fact that you don’t have a bass player when you write?
Jake: We just write songs with the instruments we have and that’s that. We’ve never gone ‘oh we better do this bit here to make up for the lack of bass’. We never had one so just never wrote with one in mind. When we started Nicola already packed plenty of low-end, just the way she plays alone is dead chunky and then she just cranks the tone a little more towards ‘bass’ and that’s us done! Saying that, one thing I have noticed is not having a bass gives the kick drum a little more space to occupy, so I tend to play with that a bit.
Dean: I like to think Nicola is Corin Tucker and I’m Carrie Brownstein and we have perfect chemistry and bass just isn’t a thing.
Your guitar player Dean is a relatively new addition to the band – how did he come about joining?
Nicola: We knew Dean a little bit through mutual friends and when we found ourselves in a position where we had an imminent tour booked and no second guitarist he was the first person that came to mind. We’d heard his solo stuff before and thought it was great, but we didn’t really know how well he could play guitar, so we asked him to learn a couple of the older songs and when he sent back recordings we almost died of excitement/relief cos they were so good.
Dean: S/O to these guys for welcoming me into their world. Forever feel blessed to be part of all this.
The album was recorded in Leeds by Hookworms’ Matthew Johnson. How was it working with him?
Dean: MJ is so cute.
Jake: He was really great, really fun and funny and sweet, made us feel instantly comfortable and at home, but he’s also super no-bullshit and made sure we were all pulling our weight to get the best results we could out of the limited time we had. It was intense and we all ate far too much pizza but we had the best time.
You seem to sit quite nicely between the indie pop and DIY punk scenes in the UK. Do you think that has helped you at all in terms of appealing to a wider audience?
Nicola: Yeah definitely, sometimes we feel too indie pop for the punk crowd and too punk for the indie pop crowd but people have been so welcoming on both sides, it’s really lovely to be able to play different kinds of shows.
Jake: We have a lot of punk and a lot of indie influences, individually and as a band, so to feel like we’ve been embraced by the two musical scenes that matter the most to us is a really nice feeling.
Dean: RAGE POP
I’ve seen you’ve already had a bit of ‘feedback’ from men who haven’t taken kindly to your message in your new song. Have you experienced much of that before?
Nicola: We’ve actually only had one for Sincere so far and he was just being a silly old sod, I was expecting more irked blokes.
Specialist Subject Records has firmly cemented itself as the UK DIY punk label in recent years. How do you feel being a part of the roster?
Jake: Warm and fuzzy. Andrew and Kay are the best and to be labelmates with some of our favourite bands/people is great. It hit me on the recent Spesh Sub tour we did, I had a moment like ‘all of these people are just the nicest and their bands are so good’, like sorry to be gushy but it’s true, we feel dead lucky to be a part of it.
We’ve obviously had some pretty big news in the UK recently with the recent ‘out’ vote. Ignoring what might happen in the future because, to be honest, no one really knows right now, why do you think the result ended up the way it did?
Nicola: It’s very easy to pass off 50% of the (voting) population as idiots and I’ve been guilty of doing that in the immediate aftermath, but we have a huge problem where politicians and the media are allowed to tell outright lies to the public with no consequences. Our current government has produced a lot of angry people who are desperate to find reasons for their suffering and the media has crafted a narrative that plays into that. That’s a very basic overview of my thoughts on it in the confines of a band interview anyway. EU 4eva ❤
credit – Steal The Stage Photography
You headlined Scene Better Days Fest last year and you’re back to play again for us in August. Any bands that stood out for you last time? What bands are you looking forward to seeing this year?
Nicola: Happy Accidents and Colour Me Wednesday were definite stand outs last year, chuffed to see H.A are back and playing a little later this time so hopefully more people will see them! Also really looking forward to seeing The Spook School as I love them and haven’t managed to see them live yet.
Do you have a favourite venue in the UK?
Dean: The Old Hairdresser’s in Glasgow ‘cause the sound person was chill (when we played there) and it’s opposite Stereo, meaning mad good vegan food.
Nicola: I really liked Gwdihŵ Café Bar in Cardiff when we played there, also JT Soar, also anywhere with fairy lights. I like playing people’s houses, let us play in your house (and bring fairy lights).
If you could put together the ultimate bill with yourselves and three other bands, who would you choose?
Dean: Sleater-Kinney, Spice Girls, Beyoncé
Nicola: Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Bloodhound Gang.
– Andrew Cream