Interview: Does It Offend You, Yeah?
Tue, 22 Jul 2008 08:11:47
Does It Offend You, Yeah? Videos
"We like to experiment," remarks James Rushent, vocalist/bassist of Does It Offend You, Yeah? He quickly flashes a mischievous grin to back up the remark. The British electro-punks do their fair share of aural experimentation on their aptly titled debut, You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into. These four lads are musical mad scientists, and their first offering is the sonic equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino flick. It's a whirlwind of pop culture references, incisive humor, gnashing synths, distorted guitars and infectious hooks. Right now, however, James has got a lot more on his mind than mashing up genres. "Sorry my daughter's crying in the background. I'm getting her ready for my Dad's 60th birthday." In between tending to his little girl and preparing to celebrate Pop's big day, James talked to ARTISTdirect about electronica, Rage Against the Machine and what tattoos not to get.
Coachella's been cool for a lot of newer artists. How was it for you guys?
Coachella was great, but it was really hot. We were backstage, and we saw two other musicians pass out. We were like, "Oh my God." So we got our tour manager to get these big buckets and fill them with ice and water and put towels in them. After we finished playing, we just took those towels out and drenched ourselves. We played in one of the tents, and it was super hot. It's funny because we were supposed to play on Friday, but we got moved to Saturday, and then we got moved to Sunday, so we had a whole weekend there. It was really cool because we got to see Portishead and do the show on Sunday. During Portishead, we just sat there with our mouths open like, "Wow." They've been away for ten years, and they came back so good. How do they do it?
Where do songs begin for you?
We have three processes. With the dance stuff, it's usually just Dan and I behind a computer. We start with nothing and build up the track. We did "We Are Rockstars," "Battle Royale" and "Weird Science" like that. It was just us in a room. I did stuff like "Dawn of the Dead" by myself. I wrote the track on a guitar and did a rough little demo of it. Then all four of us went into the studio and worked on it more. "Being Bad Feels Pretty Good" came out of jamming. We just started jamming in the studio, and the track formed out of thin air. There's no one way that we wrote the album. There were all of these different processes. We were finding our feet as well, because this was the first time any of us had to really think about writing an album. We didn't have a producer for a lot of it, so we were left to our own devices. It came about from just mucking around and trying different things. If we got bored of something, we'd just try something new. I think the songs sound quite different from each other because they were done under different methods.
You capture a different energy on each track. Lyrically, you also tackle a diverse range of subjects.
It's funny because a lot of people think the tracks are love songs. There's only one love song on there, "Epic Last Song." The rest of the songs are quite dark in subject matter, but they don't always come across like that. "Dawn of the Dead" is about telling everyone to fuck off and doing your own thing. That was written during some dark times. "Being Bad" is about moving on. I guess that's what we were doing when we were writing the album. We didn't want to stay in one place. There were a lot of people going, "You need continuity." I was like, "If you do that, it's a lie. We'd be traveling down one road trying to recreate what we've already done." Instead, we wanted to take risks and try stuff we've never done before. It might work, and it might not work, but we're not going to stand still and recreate something else.
That's a pretty punk rock mentality, but it's also why you have your own sound.
To me, that's probably the biggest compliment you could give to a band. I hear so much stuff on the radio that sounds the same. When we came out, it was a very dangerous time to be doing the electro thing. Justice was blowing up, and the whole Ed Banger thing was blowing up. I knew if we kept on carrying on down that road, we'd be just another electro act. That's why we decided not to just write electro tracks. We wanted to become something else. We wanted to do something like The Prodigy did. They began as a dance/hardcore band, and they started to diversify their sound and become their own thing. After their third album, they really became The Prodigy. I loved that record. That's what we were trying to go for. If we do a remix, we'll do what we want. We're not going to do the same thing. We may throw an acoustic guitar on there. You're not guaranteed to get heavy drums and crashes.
You're big Rage Against the Machine fans. Did that influence your live show at all?
The thing I loved about Rage was the energy, and that's what everyone loved. When they played live, man, it was just crazy. We got asked to play Reading festival. We played the same day as Rage. I wanted to go fuckin' watch them. I knew we'd be powering through our set to run off and watch Rage. I saw them at Reading when I was quite young, and they were the only band that would finish a track and it would take a second for the audience to catch their breath and compose themselves. I love the fact that these four guys on stage just create this whirlwind. That's what I loved about them. That's how we try and put our live set across. Isn't that the point of a gig?
You also seamlessly intertwine pop culture into the music.
Dan and I are definitely geeks. We like Kevin Smith and stuff like that [Laughs]. We're into games. If you follow pop culture, people are sort of down on it. However, I'm not a fucking snob. There's a reason if something's really big. It's because it's usually really good. I love Star Wars. I don't really have a problem with it. I think it's a good way to talk to people, because everyone knows pop culture.
“I think it's a good way to talk to people, because everyone knows pop culture.”
Since it is your hometown festival, what was it like playing Reading?
I was born in Reading, and I moved away when I was quite young. My dad was in the music business, and we traveled around a lot. I moved back when I was 18. We played the Reading Festival last year, and it was such a big thing because I've been going there since I was 13, really. I didn't live in Reading at the time, but I've gone to the festival since I was a young kid. Playing there was really special for us. I've always said that if we get to headline Reading that would probably be it for me. I'd be like, "Well, I've done the one thing that made me want to play music, which is watching these bands at Reading play the main stage." If we get to do it, where else is there to go really?
Are you excited for the Nine Inch Nails tour?
Yeah, definitely. It's funny because I've got a couple tattoos. I have a Miles Davis quote on my body. I was going to get another quote from Trent Reznor tattooed on me. Luckily I didn't because I'd be so embarrassed. I never knew that we'd be supporting Nine Inch Nails one day. It would be embarrassing going into a room and saying to Trent, "Hey, I've got one of your lyrics tattooed on my arm." I'm really glad I didn't do it man.
What quote was it?
"What have I become?" That's what I was going to get. For me, that line signifies working harder. Everyone could be lazy if they want to be. If you turn around at 45 and realize you've been lazy your whole life, you're fucked. I was going to get the tattoo as a reminder that you have to work to get what you want. Instead I got my daughter's name, which is probably more effective [Laughs].