Do nothing about experimental songwriting, play in Moscow and make a good record


I’m sitting in an empty movie screen with Do Nothing, and they’re debating who the funniest member of the group is. “It’s Kasper,” frontman Chris Bailey of guitarist Kasper Sandstrøm tells me. Drummer Andy Harrison responds, “Well Chris, you’re more into acting than the rest of us,” to which Chris retorts, “Yeah, but that doesn’t make me funny.”

Bassist Charlie Howarth completes Do Nothing, and together their divergent and cutting edge art-rock has caused quite a stir for the past year or so. Sharp guitar riffs, powerful basslines, and exhilarating percussion unite during their live performances, and basically, the on-stage character of Chris – a confrontational and disjointed character whose lyrical delivery merges the traits of Mark E. Smith and Stewart Lee – creates something slightly sardonic and totally thrilling.

While this comedic character is clearly seen, they didn’t leave with such intention; it evolved from the fact that Chris no longer played guitar during concerts. “You have to do something with your hands and feet – it scares the public if you stay there,” he explains dryly. Andy clarifies: “I saw it develop in him. The more gigs we played, the more he realized he could push it. “

In a soft and somewhat impenetrable voice backstage, Chris sits up, twisting his fingers as if playing with something. As he discusses his palpable songwriting style, it makes sense; fragments of Chris’ mind form the basis of the production of Do Nothing. “I demonstrate a lot of stuff at home. Then we’ll learn it or play it live, and usually the games are changed after that, ”he says. “It’s a thing that grows and changes, and I agonize with every song. We’re going to play some tracks for a while and then filter them out of the live set, so I can steal some stuff and turn it into something new.

Therefore, you are unlikely to hear the exact same song twice when you see Do Nothing, in addition to their current three recorded tracks. It’s an inventive approach that’s as enticing as their actual sound. “There were songs that Chris worked hard on, just to tell us he’s done with them. But he sends them to us anyway, and they often become our favorite live tracks, ”says Kasper. Andy agrees, adding, “This means that our song list is always fluctuating strangely, as we will be adding a new item to a song, and another will be harvested for tracks.”

It’s an approach that’s as effective as it is experimental – their latest single, Gangs, has been picked up by all kinds of bigwigs in the industry. When I ask why this one soared, Chris says, “It was written to be a good live song. A lot of times when I write I think about the role that song will play in the whole. Charlie agrees, “The gangs were doing fine for a while before we released him, so we were excited to release him because of the backlash he elicited.”

We have consciously tried to do what we know we are good at and not play differently due to the size of the stage or the crowd.

The idiosyncratic orientation of Do Nothing is fueled by a cacophonous pool of influences, in particular the Canadian quartet Ought and the independent British break-ups Black Midi. “This new scene is emerging and we’re all very excited, with bands like Squid and Black Country, New Road,” Charlie said. So the slight indignation they have for their frequently garnered post-punk label is not surprising. Andy tells me, “There’s a lot of post-punk going on right now, and maybe we’re riding that wave. When you listen more closely to our early tracks Waitress and Handshakes, they have those elements, and Gangs is a bit of a post-punk tune. But they also play with the beat in a way that post-punk doesn’t. It’s not that linear.

He continues, “Chris and Kasper do a lot of DJing, and I’ve been feeling more disco and funk influences lately, which we’re really trying to focus on.” Kasper adds, “These kinds of music are always a lot of fun, so taking elements from there gives the songs a groove that you can follow.”

There is a perceptible trust between these four, which comes only by playing together for a long time, and which is necessary when nurturing an ambition as ardent as theirs. This certainly earned them increasingly important shows, like supporting Interpol in Moscow in June. Kasper laughs, “It was such a crazy spectacle. Groups our size don’t do that – ever. So we felt really lucky. Although they currently don’t have any preparation rituals (although they assured me they have one in the works), it didn’t matter in Moscow. Andy says, “We’ve consciously tried to do what we know we’re good at and not play differently because of the size of the stage or the crowd. We felt very assured of each other there.

Do Nothing’s simultaneous fascination with writing experimental songs and experiencing audiences in their shows is striking. When I ask about a recent gig that stood out for them, they remember Confidence Man: “They’re very inclusive and fun, it’s a real show on stage,” Chris says. “It taught us something about how you can get audience participation without forcing it,” Andy adds.

While taking liberating cues to develop their live performances, Do Nothing is also moving closer to left field with their writing and keen to fend off the industry’s trend of releasing their existing songs as an album. “Even we don’t necessarily know when that will happen,” Chris says when I ask about their planned debut. “Technically we could release an album now – we have enough material. But it must be a good record. Kasper specifies: “We want to take time on it. We like albums that have real flow, rather than just being a bunch of songs.

At the end of our conversation, they convinced me it would be worth the wait. While already an explosive force to be reckoned with, the sound of Do Nothing is a lively, breathing thing, and that’s part of what makes it so exciting. United by the desire to break down borders, they are there to challenge the public and force us to do a good boogie in the process. Music inherently needs creators of change, and while it’s a tough line to cross, I feel like if someone can do it, do nothing.

Play nothing Rescue Rooms on Thursday, November 21

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