Nervous energy

The unlikely rise of Does It Offend You, Yeah?
By MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG  |  August 26, 2008

YEAH? “The thing I love about our record is, it’s quite a naive record,” notes James Rushent.

Although his outfit is named after a line Ricky Gervais spouts in the British version of The Office when confronted about his workday boozing, James Rushent — singer/bassist for UK electro-rock quartet Does It Offend You, Yeah? — says he didn’t have even one drink before the group’s very first gig a year ago. “I swore I would never do that again,” he laughs over the phone from London.

If Rushent was nervous then, playing for 20 or so fans in a dank, tiny Liverpool basement, the situations DIOYY? have found themselves in of late — a high-profile club trek with Bloc Party, massive festivals in England, arena shows in the Northeast just this past week as the support act for Nine Inch Nails, and now their first headlining US tour, which comes to Great Scott on Sunday — have made a few calming drinks prior to showtime a virtual necessity.

“If I actually stopped to think about what’s going on, I’d probably shit myself,” says Rushent, referring not only to those times when he’s playing in front of huge crowds but to his band’s speedy career ascent. “You gauge your success when you retire, you know? You can’t think about that while you’re doing something, that’ll just screw you up. We just keep our heads down and go.”

If the band — Rushent, singer/guitarist Morgan Quaintance, keyboardist Dan Coop, and drummer Rob Bloomfield — possess any collective performance anxiety, you’d never know it from the brashness and swagger they display live. Opening for Bloc Party in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, DIOYY? prowled and leapt around the stage as they charged through a set that merged disorienting digital noise and in-the-pocket grooves, with squealing synths, gigantic riffs, iron rhythms, and lunatic screams and chants coming together in a hypnotic assault.

There’s some of that aggressive wallop on their full-length debut, You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into, like “Battle Royale” and the industrialized “With a Heavy Heart (I Regret To Inform You).” But other sounds emerge as well. The melodic new-wave-pop anthem “Dawn of the Dead” sounds like OMD with balls, or maybe the soundtrack to a remake of Sixteen Candles starring Jason Statham in place of Anthony Michael Hall. And the mind-numbing “Let’s Make Out” combines the unhinged yelps of LCD Soundsystem or Death From Above 1979 with the rubbery electro-funk of !!! and Daft Punk.

“The thing I love about our record is, it’s quite a naive record — naive in a nice way. When we wrote it, we were producers, we didn’t really know a lot about songcraft, we didn’t know how to work it, so we just put stuff down the best we could. We decided early on, ‘Right, let’s just put down whatever comes out, let’s not think about it, let’s not try to make it one thing or the other, if what comes out is an ’80s pop tune, then let’s record an ’80s pop tune.’ At the end of the day, we want to make albums with great sounds and great production, but at the same time we want to pass the whistle test. We want to make sure the songs are there before anything else.”

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