Does It Offend You, Yeah?: Accidental success
James Rushent and his band Does It Offend You, Yeah? are the owners of perhaps the most ridiculous name in popular music today. They started initially as a joke with their mates as they had tired of playing the same electro tracks in clubs. “We’re regretting it now! If someone had said to me a year and a half ago when we picked it, ‘you are going to get a record deal out of this and start touring all over the place’, I would have made sure we’d have changed it. I would have changed the name; it’s a fucking stupid name.”
“It was purely for MySpace and our mates. Dan (Coop, co-founder of the band) was sitting at the keyboard and asked me what we were going to call it and we were watching The Office. Suddenly David Brent (Ricky Gervais’s character) says ‘Does it offend you, yeah? My drinking does it?’ and there it was,” He tells me from his home in England where he is enjoying some rare down time with his eight month old daughter. “So, yeah, we had absolutely no idea it was going to go anywhere, I mean I know it sounds a little cheesy, but never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would go anywhere at all, that any of this would happen.”
It has been a quick rise to the top for the lads from Reading. From their start making a few electro tracks for a bit of a laugh, to now playing some of the biggest festivals in the world – like Coachella and South by Southwest – to say it had been a busy year and a half would be a gross understatement. Debut album You Don’t Know What Your Getting Yourself Into, was released recently, riding the tidal wave of electro that’s sweeping the music world. It ranges from the buzzing four-to-the-floor electro of Battle Royale to the upbeat pop rock of Dawn of the Dead.
“We pretty much started out with the intention of making an electro album, but then – me being me – I got bored of electro after the first three songs.” He quickly explains that he and partner Coop have a great working relationship, playing to each other’s strengths and compliments each other well. “The way Battle Royale, Weird Science and We Are Rockstars went was, I would sit at the computer and write and Dan would produce, really. I find it really hard to stay focused on things and Dan is really good at staying focused on things. So he brings that element of keeping things moving along, whereas I would get bored and just want to walk off, he would say to me ‘look you’re bored lets move on to this bit or let’s just finish the intro’.”
“We wrote like 20 electro tracks and every single one was shit. I hated it and thought to myself there is no way I’m putting my name to this. It was just one of those things where we realised that we needed to experiment and throw all our chips in the air. If we had just made an electro album, we would have been there against Justice and the whole Ed Banger thing and probably just disappeared. We didn’t want to be just another one, another DJ duo making electro, so we tried writing some other stuff.”
Known for their notoriously rowdy live shows that generally consist of all the typical rock star behaviour, including smashing instruments, James stressed that they really liked being a live band rather than just a couple of blokes on computers. “For us we didn’t want to be some old grey DJs traipsing around playing small clubs every night. We really admire The Prodigy and the fact that they were able to be a dance band that could play on the main stage and stand up next to any of the other bands. We were determined to become a band and do it properly.”
Even though they like to think of themselves as a band, they still do require some help from ‘Mister B. Track’ or ‘Backing T’ to fill out their live show. They aren’t afraid of admitting what best works for their sound. “A lot of dance groups sit there and go ‘Oh yeah we play live’, but no they don’t, it’s impossible to do it. There is no way to do it, they will be like ‘We trigger samples’ but they have a backing track and trigger samples over the top. I’d say we would have around one third backing track, two thirds from instruments. We do have the back track and then have keyboards, guitar bass and drums over the top, but I don’t really think it’s anything to be ashamed of.”
“If we tried to play everything live it would just sound so fucking shit. I remember watching Glastonbury on TV one year and Prodigy were playing and at that stage I was doing the lights at a club my dad was running and I remember they had a close up of Liam at his equipment. And he was there twiddling knobs and whatever and then I saw that he was pressing the strobe controller and the strobes were going off and it was like ‘you’re not actually doing anything are you?’ But it was cool, you know, I didn’t care, he had 50,000 people going crazy and it was a massive party so it didn’t matter.”
Some of DIOYY’s more popular tracks have been remixes, which they’ve so far completed for bands like Bloc Party, The White Stripes and Muse. Far from being a walk in the park, however, Rushent highlights how difficult they found remixing songs they liked. He describes how they have called it quits on remix duties as they were investing too much in to them, even though they were getting offered plenty.
“It’s a funny thing remixing, I mean we got offered loads but we didn’t just want to do it for the cash. We decided to only take on remixes by bands that we really liked. Then you find yourself in a position of getting the track and you think this is a really, really good track. Then you get the parts and you think, ‘how am I going to do this, make this better?’ Then this internal fight happens in your hear and you just fuck it up really. You’re not quite happy with this bit or you’ve over done it a little bit over here. Then we made a decision just for the cash, for anyone, but it’s still really difficult to remix a band or song that you really love because you’re so attached to it.”
The music scene is changing daily with new avenues and when asked how he felt about his album leaking on the internet, Rushent says he has mixed feelings. “My mates were like ‘Oh my god you must be devastated’ and I was a bit, but then you know it just happens these days and it’s time to get used to it. The days of jumping up and down like Metallica did when their stuff got put on the internet I think is over. It’s part of the industry now, it happens and you can get mad about or just accept it and go ‘that is just the way it goes’, for me that’s just the way it went.”
“What I think will start to happen is that artist live rates will go through the roof, punters only have themselves to blame really, if you download the music you’re going to have to pay more to see them live. You can’t download a gig you know, you see that shows are becoming more important than albums. I think it was Elvis’s manager that said ‘Your album is just an advertisement for your live show’, it should be about the experience people get when they come to see you.”
So when is Australia going to get some guitar smashing-back tracking offensive love? “It will be happening soon hopefully, we want to start writing the next album, but we got our tour date sheet and my jaw dropped. We are going everywhere, Australia isn’t confirmed yet but we really want to make it happen.”
You Don’t Know What Your Getting Yourself Into is the debut album from Does It Offend You, Yeah? It’s out now through EMI.