“I had one night where I was lying in bed thinking oh shit, I don’t think anyone’s going to give a fuck about this record,” starts Dean Smitten. “But that passed. I think the songs on our record are really good so it doesn’t seem that surprising that people are into it. That sounds really arrogant, but it’s not. If I hear a good song, then that’s a fucking good song, regardless.”
And if there’s one thing that Doe have in abundance on ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’, it’s good songs. Packing a punch, it’s a rough and ready listen that’ll make you feel like you can take on the world. It also provides comfort for those days when you know you can’t.
“It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while,” continues vocalist/guitarist Nicola Leel. Focusing on the present and saying ‘yes’ to every cool opportunity that came their way, the band were too busy having fun in the moment to look ahead to a future full-length. Eventually things fell into place: “We were finally ready to write an album, then our old guitarist Matt left the band. Jake [Popyura, drums/vocals] and I had started writing the songs and were like, fuck, this is annoying. We just wanted to get this album out but we’re super glad we ended up writing with Dean.”
This new line up “makes the most sense,” according to Jake. “We’re all on the same wavelength and we all had the same vision in mind. It’s the most comfortable, and the band has never felt truer to itself. It’s the most Doe that Doe has ever felt,” he adds before mocking himself with a fake rock star accent. “We’re just being Doe.”
Working with a producer for the first time, the band went into ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’ knowing what they wanted the record to sound like, knowing the arrangements and knowing the sounds, “but in terms of the end product, MJ offered loads and bought loads to the table,” they explain. “Even though we knew what we wanted it to sound like, he shepherded it together.” After a handful of sheep-based jokes, the band settles on: “We were Doritos to his salsa.”
Taking the songs from living room acoustic demos to fully-fledged bangers in their practice space, Doe then went to work with MJ because they wanted it to sound really powerful. Despite the best laid plans, the whole process only felt like it was coming together on the final night, during the last ten minutes. Both Nicola and Dean suffered anxiety dreams about not getting it finished throughout the short time they were working on it. “At first we thought five days was going to be plenty of time but we underestimated how long it takes to do something properly,” explains Jake. “In the end, it didn’t feel like very much time and that really informed the sound of it. The record sounds really intense and frantic in places.” But it is always brought back together under the band’s tightly wound chemistry.
“We probably take for granted just how easy it feels,” says Nicola. “It’s not something we have to consider much. I was listening to the album the other day and thinking how good all Dean’s parts sound and I never really noticed before, because it all comes so naturally when we’re writing them. We’re all very much on a musical wavelength.”
There’s not a moment of weakness on Doe’s debut album, but it’s ‘Last Ditch’ that makes all the pieces fall firmly into place. Cries of “Maybe this will all just work itself out,” come with an optimistic desire for change,at the same time aware that something needs to. It spins a yarn which is threaded throughout the record, without tying anything else down. “We had a full album and then we dropped one of the songs,” admits Nicola. “I had this idea for a song in my head and we wrote it in a matter of days, that’s where ‘Last Ditch’ came from. It was the last song written for the album.
“Quite often I agonise over lyrics. I feel like with music it comes quite naturally, but I’m always writing right up to the last minute. On the album, almost half the lyrics were written ten minutes before we were recording them, but with ‘Last Ditch’ it was the complete opposite. They just came out and sometimes, that’s where the best lyrics come from, because they’re just completely honest and you don’t have time to over think them.”
There was no grand message the band wanted to convey on their debut, instead they took the feelings from the song and then Nicola would ask what mood they inspired. “It’s taking in the music and trying to get the lyrics in line with that. It’s not very intelligent or interesting but it was accidental and it turns out, with how we made the album flow, it all fits together in some kind of narrative. There’s a nice balance of affronting lyrics, some of the songs feel empowering, but towards the latter half of the album there’s some more self-doubt.”
It’s never confused though. ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’ is a gorgeous, interesting and self-aware blast of high-energy and high emotion. Among the poetry and the bone-rattling chemistry lies a simple truth: “When I hear the record back, I think if I was to hear those songs for the first time, I’d feel powerful.”
Doe’s album ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’ is out now.
More from Features
Topshelf Records signees Prawn are back with a new album – and you can hear it a little bit early.
Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, Chuck D, B-Real and DJ Lord have teamed up for new band, Prophets of Rage – and in a time plagued by political turmoil, they’re as provocative as ever.