Doe – In Conversation

Interviews "where we simultaneously perfect our craft and have the most fun"

Drawing influences from such 90s stalwarts as Sleater-Kinney, Weezer, Helium and Breeders, the London-based trio Doe have spent the last 3 years furiously honing their live craft and releasing a string of EPs and singles. After a lineup change and the addition of Dean Smitten (guitar) in September last year, Doe finally got to work writing material with an album in mind. In March, armed with 10 new songs and bags full of snacks, they ventured to Greenmount Studios in Leeds with producer Matthew Johnson (Hookworms/Suburban Home). The result of that intense 5-day pizza-fueled recording session is the band’s first full-length: Some Things Last Longer than You. The record was released earlier this month and on Sunday the band were in town to play the Corner House. We caught up with them pre-show for a chat…

You’re here in Cambridge to play, how are you feeling about it? How important is playing live to you?
Jake: I was born in Cambridge so always enjoy visiting! Playing live is vital, it’s where we simultaneously perfect our craft and have the most fun.

What was the hardest track on the record to finish and why?
Nicola: Songwriting-wise, Respite was probably the hardest. Most songs came together really quickly but with Respite we struggled a bit, I think because it’s quite abstract and was never intended as a catchy pop song. The ones that take a bit more work are often the most satisfying to finish though.
Dean: Recording-wise, I’d say Something to Tell You. We spent about an hour trying to get the right squeals and weird sounds out of my guitar at 1AM on the last night. Beyond stressful, but worth it.

If you weren’t in Doe, what would you like most about ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’?
Jake: The beginning, middle and end.
Dean: Probably the production. Production is super important to me (as a listener) and I definitely get the most out of records with a considered sound. Good production is something I hear more in electronic music, but I think people with guitars are starting to realise they can do more than just record their shit straight up.
Nicola: I would like that it’s a bit weird and there are a lot of feelings. Apathy blows.

Do you ever write a song with an eye on how it will sound/be received live?
Nicola: Pretty much always, I think we are first and foremost a live band and write a lot of that energy into the songs. Even when we’re sitting in a living room writing together we’re always thinking about how something will sound when played in a live environment and that makes it really exciting.

Is the writing process quite democratic within the band?
Jake: Yes, kind of. Nicola and I always come with the initial song ideas, which will either be fully-fleshed with most of the parts already written or just a verse/chorus/bridge idea, but then all three of us work on the arrangement, structure, dynamics, lead guitar lines etc together and turn it into a finished song as a band.

Were the songs on the album written specifically for the record or have they been knocking around for a while?
Nicola: They were all specifically for the record – we wanted to write with intent so that the album was cohesive. Previously we’d only really written one off songs then put them together for EPs/singles so it was nice to have a bigger picture in mind.

As a band, are you constantly working on new ideas for new material or are you going to get all the debut album touring out the way before thinking about the next release?
Nicola: We’re always coming up with bits and pieces individually that might end up being Doe songs, but for now just want to enjoy these songs and make the most of everything we’ve worked really hard on. It can be easy to get so lost in the surrounding stuff/stresses that you lose sight of enjoying what you’ve created.

When did Doe first get together and what was your motivation for starting the band?
Jake: Nicola and I met in 2012. We’d both been looking to do something in this vein for a long time but had no luck for a variety of reasons. We started talking online then met in person and bonded instantly. Doe didn’t start right away, we wrote and jammed together for about 6 months before eventually starting the band in Feb 2013 when we met our first guitarist Alex.

What is something about Doe that no one knows yet?
Dean: We don’t kiss and tell.

What next for Doe?
Jake: We go on tour with Charla Fantasma in Sept. They’re excellent and we’re stoked to have them with us. We’re being driven by the fabulous JC of Martha so it will be a good time all round. There will be a Euro tour later in the year and hoping we’ll get over to the states early next year too. Then I guess we should probably think about another record but we wanna enjoy this one the best we can first!

Which band/act should we be excited about?
Dean: RYAN Playground’s I Won’t Sleep on You is prob my fav track of 2016 (so far).
Nicola: Dilly Dally are very special and I really like Slowcoaches at the moment.

What lyric will you never get enough of?
Dean: ‘Cause I eat stress and I shit blood
Jake: … and one day I’ll come through my American dream, but it won’t mean a fucking thing.
Nicola: I’ve never been a huge lyric buff but in context ‘Your lyrics are dumb like a linoleum floor, I’ll walk on it, I’ll walk all over you’ is a wonderfully affirming statement to sing along to.

Hypothetically you’re going to DJ a disco for us, what is your go-to dance floor filler?
Dean: Cheryl Lynn – Got to Be Real
Nicola: It depends on what the vibe of the room is, this question is too hard.

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