Does It Offend You, Yeah?
As the album title has it, 'you have no idea what you're getting yourself into'. What does that mean? Does it confuse you, yeah? It shouldn't. It's fairly straightforward. The debut album by Reading-based four-piece Does It Offend You, Yeah? is a big, swaggering mash-up of Eighties-lovin', future-livin' techn-rock with fuck-off pop-bells on.
'Thriller' reimainged by a Thames Valley Daft Punk. A John Hughes film soundtracked by a Noughties Prodigy. Council-house house music battered out on battered computer-game consoles. Moshpit mentalism with armpit intimacy. Chuck all that in a decibel-friendly blender, sieve out the lumpy bits, keep in the squelchy bits, and whip into a rafter-rattling FUNSTORM.
'Et voila, hey disco,' as Delia-on-happy-pills would say. That's what 'You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into' means, and that's what it sounds like.
But who made it, and why, and how did they get here?
Dan Yeah? on the 'mystery'...
In the early days 2006 no one knew what the two upstart producers who founded DIOYY? looked like. Were they really two middle-aged blokes pulling rave-gurner faces in the studio?
'No, that was our dads. In the beginning were quite faceless and we didn't want to show our faces until we had a full band running. So at the time there was loads of speculation about who were, were we mysterious Daft Punk-type producer guys? We weren't. We were just waiting till we were a full and proper band.'
Dan (keyboards) and James (bass), old producer mates and club-runners from Reading, began writing songs together in August 2006. They would later recruit guitarist Morgan from the London band and party circuit, and drummer Rob, another songwriter/producer on the Reading scene.
Initially they worked at James' girlfriend's flat. Two songs quickly emerged: 'Battle Royal' and 'We Are Rockstars'. The latter, a symphonic throb of acid-rock, was says James, 'really about the MySpace thing, how at the time you'd see all these people getting professional photosessions done for their MySpace pages. Everyone did suddenly seem to think they were a fucking rockstar.'
They relocated to a rented flat in Tottenham, north London. Their new 'studio' was cramped box-room with barely enough room for a computer, speakers and a bed. The landlord's cat considered it his toilet. It was high summer and it smelled yum. In bouts of inspiration - - inbetween bouts of Dan having to escape because his eyes were burning from the super-heated feline ammonia DIOYY? came up with robo-disco-electro party tune 'Weird Science'.
Then DIOYY? got signed. Then, they freely admit, they lost the plot a bit. They thought they should build their own studio in a big house in the Berkshire countryside, hunker down and crank out their debut album. They thought wrong. They spent three months trying, and failing, to find songwriting inspiration. Of course they did: damn fools had up till now banged out their killer tunes in tiny flats and stinky cupboards. DIOYY? didn't need swanky facilities.
'We bumped our heads against the wall all that time,' says James. 'We were writing but it was utter shit. A pale copy of what we'd done before. Trying to write another Rockstar, another Weird Science.'
He moved back to his girlfriend's flat. Initially, James remained stuck. Then one morning he woke up and thought: 'I'm tired of writing dancey elctro stuff. I'm just gonna write what I feel like.'
And that's when he came up with 'Dawn Of The Dead'.
James on a smash-hit-in-waiting...
'I wrote Dawn Of The Dead in a day. I thought the label were gonna think was a disaster. But they loved it. And we loved it. It's got steel drums on it. It's got that mad Eighties pop vibe that we love we're children of the Eighties, and proud of it.'
Dan on the Eighties...
'We write stuff that we'd like to hear, that bring back memories of our childhood. Watching The Goonies or Ghostbusters or Big Trouble In Little China we wanted to keep that vibe.'
James on the best teen movie of the Eighties...
''Being Bad Feels Pretty Good' is, in a weird way, just a rip-off of The Breakfast Club. We wrote it while we were watching the dance scene on YouTube on our laptops. We tried to have the characters dancing to our tune. And when we were getting the album mixed by Rich [Costey, Franz Ferdinand producer-engineer] in New York he did exactly the same: he sent a runner out for the DVD and mixed it in time with the film. He wanted to get into the vibe.'
Before they got to that mixing stage they had to finish the album. The DIOYY? four flitted round Eastcote, Moloko and Kore studios in London. The songs were fizzing out of them now, the melodic strength and excitement at their core helping keep focus as they finally, one year after beginning the writing process, approached the finish line.
Another help here: Elliot James, the gifted engineer they'd chosen for his staggeringly innovative work on Bloc Party's 'Silent Alarm'. He helped pull the band's myriad mash-up ideas together. Not least because by now there were other distractions tugging at DIOYY?.
Morgan on tour...
'We played a lot of shows last summer, all the festivals... Reading was particularly great, that felt like a tipping point, when people started going a bit mental for us. That was a pretty crazy one for me: it was so fucking hot and I'd drank a half bottle of Evian I'd filled with rum and coke. Onstage I started flipping out.'
Rob on heavy beats...
'When we do it live, With A Heavy Heart (I Regret To Inform You) is unbelievable heavy. It's got something of Rage Against The Machine about it. When we play it the crowd just about tears the roof of.'
Flipping out and removing roofs is something DIOYY? the live touring monster version have become rather good at. They want to noise up crowds, create a rumpus. They did it at Reading last summer, in Japan at the Summersonic Festival, at In The City in Manchester. On the recent NME Awards tour, their big sound got bigger still notably on 'Let's Make Out', the techno-screamo anthem vocalised (on the album) by Sebastian from DFA, and on 'Doomed Now', a rhythmic punk belter that recalls, I dunno, Gary Numan singing 'Smack My Bitch Up', yeah?
James on Prodigy...
'Prodigy are a big influence on the live thing. I saw them a lot when I was growing up. I love the fact that they were a 'dance' band but they had this rock sensibilty about them. They were the only dance band that could go on main stage at Glastonbury and have a moshpit. That really impressed me they're using computers and they've got people crowd-surfing. It doesn't get much better than that.'
The progressive, precision-tooled turbo-pop songs of Does It Offend You, Yeah? are causing a rumpus in a club / on a radio / in a moshpit near you right now. You might hear one of their remixes (they've done Bloc Party, Muse and The Raconteurs) but probably not too often. 'We get asked to do loads and loads,' says fiercely self-critical James, 'and we only say yes when we really like song. Then you find yourself in position where you're sat with all the parts of a song you love, thinking, how can I make this better? You worry so much that you basically risk destroying it. I don't think we've pulled off a brilliant one yet.'
Want to know what you're getting yourself into? James Yeah?, a man with the Muppets on his voicemail message, has a thought:
'We're purely doing this for fun. We don't overthink it. If you do, if you try to read too much into it, you probably won't have a good time. When we talked about doing this live, we said that we have to be in that league that Prodigy were in. Laptops / lights / projections? Nah, all been done before and it's boring. We'll use samplers and loops but we have to pull it off on the main stage at a festival. We'll make as much noise as possible. Dance music you can go fucking crazy too.'
Now that's something worth hearing, right?