London based trio Doe take feminism, horror and beer as their motto and indie-rock’s early 90s heyday as their inspiration
Names: Nicola Leel (guitar & vocals), Matthew Sykes (guitar), Jake Popyura (drummer)
Location: London, England
Style: Catchy and spiky indie-rock, in the vein of Sleater Kinney and Superchunk
Look out for: EP Sooner is out now, with the band continuing to work on new songs
t the beginning of 1986, Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV placed a classified advertisement. The ad sought a female bass player who was a fan of both Peter, Paul & Mary and Hüsker Dü. Shortly after this ad was placed a 24-year-old Ohioan answered his call. Turning up not only without a bass, but having never played the instrument, she was invited to join Charles and his friend Joey, to form what became one of the most influential guitar bands of all time.
Not every classified advertisement has been as successful as the one that helped to spawn the Pixies, but it’s a medium that has reaped real reward for London based indie-rock trio Doe. Having placed an ad that demanded ‘no time wasters’, Essex drummer Jake Popyura received a reply from Nicola Leel, a guitarist and vocalist hailing from Aberdeen.
Taking influence from a shared love of The Breeders, Sleater Kinney and early Weezer, the two then spent the next six months writing together. The end result of which saw the formation of Doe, having brought in a second guitarist – Alex – to flesh out their sound. Following Alex’s departure, this February saw Nicola and Jake back among the classifieds. Sheffield-born guitarist Matthew Sykes “responded for the promise of Sonic Youth influence and stayed for the love of Pavement.”
Since then the trio have released the excellent EP Sooner, a record fired by the songwriting of early 90s alt-rock. Matthew explains that it’s the authenticity of that era that inspires their songwriting, stating: “I couldn’t be happier that 90s is a term being bandied around, because for me it’s the last decade where indie music had a voice all of its own. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why you’re seeing a proliferation of bands similarly aged to us drawing inspiration from that era. It had an authenticity that seems lacking from a lot of music since.”
As far as the band’s songwriting goes, Jake says: “In the past it was primarily Nicola and I that came with the main ideas, at least the verse and chorus would be pretty much fully written together. We’d then work on the structure and arrangement together, so the songs would sometimes vary quite a lot from their original incarnation. Since Matt joined it’s become much more collaborative and now we’re all coming with pretty fully fleshed ideas that we work on as a unit.”
Part of the enduring influence of early 90s indie-rock was the scene’s ‘do it yourself’ ethos and this is something that Doe share. Nicola explains that it’s the sense of achievement they feel in doing it themselves that drives this attitude, saying, “We’re always keen to do as much as we possibly can ourselves and we’ve achieved a lot that way. It’s super satisfying when you can say you’ve done something yourself, too. It’s also been great that we’ve each managed to find other people who are as driven and excited by it all.”
Though Doe have yet to settle on a timescale for the release of their debut LP, they have begun writing songs for it already. Nicola advises: “We’ve not got any solid plans set in stone, but we’re starting to work on new stuff that will hopefully form an album in the not too distant future.”
It will be a huge ask for Doe to make the same impression on music’s landscape as The Pixies, though it’s hard not to like any band who take their motto as “feminism, horror and beer”. Budding songwriters should take heart: if you’re willing to advertise yourself, you can strike gold.
Sooner is out now and you can hear it below. Keep up to date with the band at their official website: www.doetheband.co.uk