Reading's critically acclaimed Does It Offend You, Yeah? are set to release the follow up to 2008's You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into, the much anticipated Don't Say We Didn't Warn You on March.
Natural talent should be rising to the top, argues James Rushent, vehemently, but it doesnt anymore. The shits 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 youve got to write soul music, which I think is fucking bollocks, you dont 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 dont think so Its 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 'youre first record wasnt 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 Im 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 youll 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 theyve just found a formula Youll 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 were fighting the good fight.
For DIOY,Y?, 'twas ever thus. Forming in Reading in 2006 around the core of James and synthster Dan Coop (alongside Rob Bloomfield and guitarist Morgan Quaintance), they pricked ears with the incessant electro-sex insistence of 'Lets Make Out in 2007 featuring vocals from Death From Above 1979s Sebastian Grainger. But they followed its dancefloor devastation with a debut album, 2008s 'You Have Know Idea What Youre Getting Yourself Into, that was too spikey-around-the-edges to fit into any scene, too unpredictable to slot into a pre-conceived genre and too smothered with imagination for the mainstream to digest so easily. 'We Are Rockstars splurged and frazzled like Daft Punks sadistic stepsons; 'Battle Royale sounded like The Prodigy fighting an entire legion of Transformer arcade machines to the death; and 'Epic Last Song was (relatively) self-explanatory. As was 'Attack Of The 60ft Lesbian Octopus. Obviously.
Confounding expectations at every turn (including their own; James has a love/hate relationship with their debut, claiming theres parts of the album I love and parts I dont know why we did that, but Im fond of it because its quite an innocent record, its got these big wide eyes), DIOY,Y? Blew up big. They made a huge impact on the gig scene with their incendiary live performances, remixed everyone from Muse to Bloc Party to The White Stripes, exploded all over the soundtracks of Fast & Furious, The A Team, American Teen, Gran Turismo 5 and countless US and UK TV shows and damn near broke America with a sold-out headline tour that saw James instead break his leg during the last song at LAs Troubadour. The last gig of the debut album tour, he played in a wheelchair.
As their star ascended, so did their audacity. While their contemporaries concentrated on playing as many UK festivals as they could fit in their schedule, DIOY,Y? headlined a fest in a panda reserve in China and launched onstage rants about the Glastonisation of Serbias once-cool Exit festival. While other bands played uber-safe 'new rave tours with each other, theyve gone on missions of electro conversion across North America in support of The Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails and Linkin Park. They thought nothing of shedding their most recognisable character Morgan and replacing him with Elle Milanos Chloe Duveaux and Fields Matty Derham in 2009, and when their major record label began demanding they produce radio hits with a 'soul edge for their second album, they didnt quite get the enthusiastic rolling-over they expected.
We were so steadfast in what we wanted to do that we fell out with a lot of people at the label, James explains. They wanted something thatd get on daytime Radio One and I said 'well go and sign another band, were not that band. Then you get all the threats and they expect you to go 'oh alright, well do what you want but we didnt, they got 'fuck off, were not going to do that. They said 'if you wont do what we tell you then well drop you and we went 'bring it on then, do us a fucking favour, let us out of this, youre not gonna get what you want and were not gonna get what we want. We basically left all our majors. The major system now is not designed for bands, it cant function with bands.
If youre Kesha or Lady Gaga, fine, adds Dan. But if youre an indie band from Reading, unless youve got a happy clappy pop song or a middle of the road rock song they can play on KROQ in America, it hard for them to understand where youre coming from. Youre the one in front of the camera on David Letterman or whatever playing the song and if youre not doing what you want to do your heart is falling out of your arse, thinking 'what are we doing here? The whole album is saying were very very happy to get out of our major label commitments.
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 bedroomnkitchen sessions throughout 2010, including a months stint in Dans dads 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 bands feelings: were too extreme, were too wild, were too out of control fuck you youre wrong! Fuck you, were 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 fucking mess, says James. I think its about time we have a fucking mess. We were a year and a half ago in the studio, going 'fuck them, fuck her, fuck him. We want to perform music that, if we heard it, wed go 'oh, whos that? rather than 'heres another fucking 60s soul artist. It was stressful, panicky and hard work. Its the nature of how we work, its like trying to put a jigsaw together where you dont know what the picture is at the end. I feel like weve 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, 'Dont Say We Didnt Warn You promises to be one of 2011s most visceral and inventive yet surprisingly accessible assaults on the senses. When its not delving into Soviet squelches, Billy Holiday-esque vocal samples and grime raps courtesy of educated battler Trip on 'Wondering, its 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 bands ex-manager missed his 'window.
Acoustic guitar segments drop unexpectedly out of hardcore techno thrashes. Zulu chants weave around cartoon monster glam stomps. 'Dont Say We Didnt Warn You surprises and astounds at every turn; unpredictability is king, no barrier is left un-demolished. Its 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 Radioheads '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.
Its about reincarnation and regeneration, James grins. Coming back from the dead. Thats why we picked it as our first free giveaway, to say were still alive.
And how. Finally free of their major label shackles (theyre now signed to various independent labels around the world, including Cooking Vinyl in the UK), DIOY,Y? couldnt feel more unleashed, in control, reanimated. Theyre 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.
This is our break-out album, says Dan. It has got balls-out angry stuff and serene melancholic, quite depressing stuff as well. Wed rather show all our hands like that rather than write a whole album that sounds the same.
Theres a thing on YouTube where someone put all of the Pendulum songs on top of each other and everything happens at the same time, all in the same key, James fumes. I would go fucking mad, I couldnt do that. Ive always got to explore stuff and go off and find something. If the album sounds different all the way through, good. At least we put the hours in and did some work. We ripped our hair out, pretty much.
A good plan, since this is hair-raising stuff: a laser blast from the underground, future rock rebels running riot. Dont say they didnt warn you