The 405 meets Do Make Say Think
I was given Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead, my first point of contact with Do Make Say Think, in January 2007. In the years since, right from the record's opening prickles I am yanked forcibly back into a monochrome and crumbling bedroom overlooking a building site, and I'm sinking down a bathroom wall slimy with filth and steam, listening to a new band and delaying the performance of my morning ablutions. We all attach our decaying memories, our myriad little nostalgias, to the records we listen to. But for me, none demand these full-on, Delorean-powered flashbacks to definite scenes in the way that Goodbye Enemy Airship does. Do Make are playing the record in its entirety at the Electric Ballroom in Camden tonight. I asked them some stuff about the places that the airship takes them.
Why choose to play Goodbye Enemy Airship in full? Why only on certain dates?
Charles Spearin: We had been kicking around the thought of playing GEATLID in its entirety for the anniversary of an influential Toronto concert series called Wavelength, but never ended up doing it. The idea got back to Don and Ian from Constellation records, and then with a little discussion it got incorporated into the CST 15th anniversary celebrations instead. In a way GEATLID was what sealed our relationship with our label, so the revival seemed well suited. Once the plan was in place, Shaun from ATP asked if we would also do it as a part of the Don't Look Back series in London. Revisiting it has been a real joy.
Do Make have been releasing records via Constellation for fourteen years now – what's the key to your long relationship with them? Have you ever thought about releasing on another label?
Justin Small: I guess the key would be that we share a mutual love for music of a certain variety. And beyond that, the love of long format album. One that is intended to be listened as a whole from front to back. To see the finished product, a product of blood and sweat and frustration and joy before you with all the glorious packaging is pure bliss. So no, we've never thought of switching labels. Why would we? No one else would put up with us.
Goodbye Enemy Airship, to my ears at least, is a record that uses tension and release as its chief weapon. Do you think that's a fair statement? How do you go about maintaining that level of tension and excitement twelve years on from a record's release?
JS: That's a fine statement. But on reflection, GEATLID is a much more reserved album in respect to the rest of our canon. It's been great to perform it. It gives a real sense of history.
What do you mean by 'history' in this context? Just because it's one of your earlier records, or the sound of GEATLID in particular?
JS: I guess if I think about it, its history is steeped in a definite time and place. 57 Grange in Toronto. Most of us lived there and a lot of parts were recorded in our living room. The sound is still pretty current, it doesn't feel dated, so my relationship with it is more nostalgic. More of a gauzy trip down memory lane.
Airship does feel tethered to a time and place – the connection's literal in 'Apartment Story', or the origin of the record's title, or the bio on the Constellation website. Do you think that the songs have changed in meaning over time?
JS: I think the idea of Airship has a time and a place. I am absolutely transported back to that time and place. Performing it hasn't changed what those songs mean; it's more like looking through an old photo album. You see how young you were, and if you're confident in who you are as a person, you see how much you've grown.
What is the 'idea' of Airship? What time and place does it transport you back to?
JS: Again, I would say, 57 Grange in Toronto. It was a really fun, weird, slum that had a lot of people pass through its door. The rent was cheap; the stairs were sinking into the building. We had rats, and mice and raccoons living there. We had a friend come back from a Korean prison (he was wrongly put there for 4 months!) to stay with us. So yeah, there's not much of an idea other than it was the sound of who we were at the time.
Adam, correct me if I'm wrong, but you're not in the credits for Airship – how long have you been among the Do Make ranks? Do you think that makes a difference to how you feel about, or interpret, the songs on that record? When was your first introduction to it?
Adam Marvy: Correct, I'm not on the credits. I linked up with Do Makes at the end of 2006 as a trumpet player. Once on tour I took on the responsibility of tour managing, and have continued on since then as manager/tour manager/administrative lackey. The reality is that the band gets 'managed' collectively; everybody is involved in the decisions that affect the band. A true Domakeracy. As for how that affects my relationship to the songs on GEATLID, I'm not really sure…all I can say is that I continue to enjoy listening to and playing the songs on GEATLID, and due to the depth and strength of the album, look forward to more of the same in the future. I was first introduced to the album when I joined Do Makes for tour in 2006.
What was the rehearsal process like for your current tour? Has rehearsing an entire album affected that process in any notable way?
JS: The rehearsal process has been a blast! Remarkably low on pressure. We've pared down to the original 5 piece and it's worked really well. Just us in our space oblivious to the rest of the world performing some of our favourite songs.
On that note, how's Europe been treating you so far? Any particular highlights?
JS: Europe has treated us really well and sadly, it's been a very hard schedule. Lots of driving, loading, playing, loading, and driving. Not much in the way of culture but the shows have been fantastic!! And we're half way through so more highlights are to come for sure.
Obligatory question – any plans for new Do Make recorded output in the near future?
CS: We are currently thinking about talking about making something doable.
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Do Make Say Think have announced they'll be heading to London this November to perform 'Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead' in its entirety. [read more]
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