“Natural talent should be rising to the top,” argues James Rushent vehemently, “but it doesn’t anymore. The shit’s rising to the top… a lot of this album is two fingers up to a lot of people, the people that think that to be a successful band you’ve got to write soul music, which I think is f—ing bollocks, you don’t have to do that…
“At the minute, if you conform and be really boring and obvious, you get rewarded. Do you need a heart anymore to listen to the radio? I don’t think so… It’s all the same, why are we giving awards out?… Talented artists are starting to go to the dark side. I said it to Plan B, I said ‘you’re first record wasn’t a massive hit but it was quite interesting, what are you doing now?’ He got really offended by that. I went ‘why are you getting offended by that? Is it because I’m right?’”
Offended? Shocked? Confronted? You should be. Spend an hour in the company of Does It Offend You, Yeah? and a couple of dozen pints and you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a brilliantly bilious torrent of hatred and disgust aimed at the mass music media, major record labels, sell-out ‘underground’ acts, scene tags, and “bands who write two really good tunes and the rest of the album is pretty much the same as the other tunes but not as good—some of these bands go on and win awards, but they’ve just found a formula…” You’ll find yourself, essentially, in the company of the most uncompromising, un-corporate-cock-swallowing, angry, passionate and dedicated-to-the-cause band in the UK right now. And one who knows the pitfalls of having a gorge-like gob: “Everyone who has a strong opinion gets shot down for it. But we’re fighting the good fight.”
The second album compiled from the “million” songs that DIOY,Y? self-recorded—over six months in a tiny studio in Reading towards the end of 2009 and in piecemeal bedroom’n’kitchen sessions throughout 2010, including a month’s stint in Dan’s dad’s house where James “blew up the microwave” to record the explosion—reflects their frustration with the machine that threatened to crush them. The anarcho-Prodigy ‘The Wrestler (This Is The Dance)’ includes a sample from 1999 wrestling movie Beyond The Mat which summed up the band’s feelings: “we’re too extreme, we’re too wild, we’re too out of control… f—k you you’re wrong! F—k you, we’re right!”. The fantastic electro-pop ‘Pull Out My Insides’ (“Stay with me while I make mistakes”) is an attack on the soulful-yet-soulless mainstream pap, riddled with fantasies about their mass cultural cull at the hands of the righteous underground. A cull forseen in ‘The Monkeys Are Coming’, a real rave-rock shit-flinger that resets the spring-loaded spike trap at the heart of DIOY,Y? and asserts their position as the prickliest tech-rock punks on the planet.
“The monkeys represent art in its true form, just f—king mess,” says James. “I think it’s about time we have a f—king mess. We were a year and a half ago in the studio, going ‘f—k them, f—k her, f—k him’. We want to perform music that, if we heard it, we’d go ‘oh, who’s that?’ rather than ‘here’s another f—king 60s soul artist’. It was stressful, panicky and hard work. It’s the nature of how we work, it’s like trying to put a jigsaw together where you don’t know what the picture is at the end. I feel like we’ve come across the finish line with our pants hanging halfway down our legs.”
But what a triumphant finish. Fusing their original concoction of Justice, Metronomy and Prodigy with a new sense of stylistic adventure and synthetic violence all their own, ‘Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You’ promises to be one of 2011’s most visceral and inventive—yet surprisingly accessible—assaults on the senses. When it’s not delving into Soviet squelches, Billy Holiday-esque vocal samples and grime raps courtesy of educated battler Trip on ‘Wondering’, it’s recreating the Blade Runner soundtrack on ‘The Knife’, or coming on like a meta-Muse on ‘John Hurt’—so named because the legendary actor was due to feature on the track, until the band’s ex-manager missed his ‘window’.
Acoustic guitar segments drop unexpectedly out of hardcore techno thrashes. Zulu chants weave around cartoon monster glam stomps. ‘Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You’ surprises and astounds at every turn; unpredictability is king, no barrier is left un-demolished. It’s a spectacular rebirth, a breaking out of boxes, as evinced by the two tracks which bookend it. At the far end you have the devastating ‘Broken Arms’, a virtually synth-free suicide ballad redolent of Radiohead’s ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’, the first song written for the album in an attempt to do “something completely different”. And right upfront, the resurrection march of “We Are The Dead’, a zombie barn-dance interspersed with ’60s-psych acoustic interludes.
“It’s about reincarnation and regeneration,” James grins. “Coming back from the dead. That’s why we picked it as our first free giveaway, to say we’re still alive.”
And how. Finally free of their major label shackles (they’re now signed to various independent labels around the world, including Cooking Vinyl in the UK), DIOY,Y? couldn’t feel more unleashed, in control,reanimated. They’re one of the few bands around today who feel capable of anything, restrained by no-one and thrilled to be beating at the boundaries of their own possibilities.
|Dan Coop (synth), James Rushent (vocals, guitar, bass, synth), Matty Derham (vocals, guitar, synth), Rob Bloomfield (drums), Chlo (vocals, bass)|