Releasing their first album back in 2008, going on to become one of the top ten most listened to bands on Last.fm that year, Does It Offend You, Yeah? looked set to become a major label success, signing to Virgin and touring worldwide. Their single We Are Rockstars sound-tracked countless moments of drunken or drugged epiphany, exhilaration and despair in clubs everywhere, their live shows leaving fans, the band and their instruments decimated. Their career seemed to have set off in calm waters with a turbulent kinetic force.
Cut to when the band have begun work on their second album and we see a very different picture. Under pressure from the label to write more commercial music, the band went through a tortuous year and a half long process of going back and forth with the label about the songs and the band’s direction. What they had thought was a recognition of their talent as songwriters and performers, instead turned out to be a recognition of their commercial potential.
Not content with being put through the sausage press of the music industry, the band rebelled against their label, the subsequent falling out leading to the band leaving Virgin and releasing their follow up album, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You, on Pod (via Inertia here in Australia). The album, which sees the band exploring more of a live song across all the songs, abandoning using individual laptop produced tracks as they did on the first album, reflects the band’s difficult journey to where they are now. With former members of the live band left behind, some new ones along for the ride, their second album under their belts and a tour of Australia fast approaching, we caught up with Dan Coop to discuss the band leaving Virgin as well as the new album.
Music Feeds: So, what’s been keeping you guys busy?
Dan Coop: We’ve just been on tour all around Europe, just everywhere in Europe and now we’re back home. I think I’m going to go into the studio with James later today, just to start work on some bits and bobs, nothing too serious like we’re not working on the new album or anything yet, just some stuff to put out over the summer.
MF: Must be nice to have your own studio and to just be able to get work done when you feel like it rather than having to book in time or anything?
DC: Yeah, however when you’re in a band the work bit is sitting on a bus for eight hours or sitting on a plane for 20 hours to get to Australia, the fun bit is when you’re on stage or in the studio, that’s like a holiday.
It can be hard work and sometimes you find yourself tearing your hair out working on one track for months on end. It’s kind of a weird process; you can come up with stuff and just pull it out of the top of your head, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen and you’ve just got to keep soldiering on until you’re left with something you’re happy for other people to hear.
MF: Cool, I mean do you guys tend to write a lot and then cull back? I know the new album was culled back from a much larger number of songs.
DC: Yeah, I think the way we tend to work is that we write lots and lots and lots of stuff and then we go through and whittle it down till you’ve got a core of ten songs that we’re happy with.
MF: So you’ve left Virgin now and are working with Pod on this album; what’s it like to be off a major and back out on your own?
DC: It’s a little bit daunting because you know that you haven’t got all the money a major label can bring to the table behind you. But sometimes it’s like if they’re not supporting the record, they’re not going to put the money in anyway, they’ll just spend all their money promoting the new Kesha song or something. So they’re like a very Yin Yang thing, whereas with an indie label it’s more like you’re working with your family. It’s in everyone’s best interest that everything works out with the record, everyone’s onside and working their arse off to get things done rather than worrying about some other artists or whatever.
MF: You were working on the new album while you were going through all this trouble with Virgin, can you tell me about what was happening?
DC: Well we kept playing stuff to our old label and they kept asking us if we couldn’t write anything more commercial like, not to name any bands but they kept suggesting stuff like this or stuff like that. But we as a band, we need to get onstage and we have to be confident in what we’re playing, confident that we like it, and what we like isn’t the same as what they wanted. So that went on for maybe a year and a half and we just ended up falling out majorly over it, they gave us our record back and we managed to sign with a label who were interested in the music we’re making and it’s worked out well for everybody.
MF: Definitely, I suppose it’s the difference between working with a label who respect you as artists and want to support and promote your music because they like it, rather than a label almost commissioning you to make music they think will be popular.
DC: Exactly that, you know what, if you want to start a band go ahead and do it, but I’m not going to be the guy on stage singing the songs that you want us to write. A&R should work in way where band’s write songs and then hand them over and then discuss mutually which songs are the best. There are songs that I really regret writing now because they were the ones they liked the most, I hate talking about it really, it makes me feel sick. Like if your editor put something out under your name that was just really shoddy you’d be pretty annoyed. That was the situation we found ourselves in, and we just had to work hard to get out of it, which thankfully we did. Now if we go into the studio, I don’t have any weight above my head whatsoever you know. If I don’t want to put it on an album I can put it up on YouTube or on Soundcloud you know, it just feels very liberating.
MF: So you’re happy leaving the major label behind?
DC: It’s a balancing act, there are some months when I’m a bit short on cash and then there are other months when I get to go to Australia and play in front of loads of people. I’d much rather be in that position as opposed to playing songs that I don’t like.
Splendour In The Grass Sideshows
Tue 02 Aug. The Gov, Adelaide. SA
Wed 03 Aug. The Capitol Theatre, Perth. WA
Thu 04 Aug. Metro Theatre, Sydney. NSW
Fri 05 Aug . Prince Bandroom, Melbourne. VIC
Tickets On Sale Friday May 27