Published Apr 30, 2014Montreal post-punk band Ought have only been playing music together for a couple of years, but they've already honed a unique chemistry that shines through on More Than Any Other Day, their stirring, diverse and intellectually inspiring debut for Constellation Records.
The band — keyboardist Matt May, bassist Ben Stidworthy, drummer/violinist Tim Keen and vocalist/guitarist Tim Beeler — insisted on conducting an interview with Exclaim! as a unit, from an apartment shared by Keen and May. At one point, most of the band were roommates, and they view that unique bond as vital to the power of Ought.
"I don't think it's essential, but I think we learned a lot from the time that we were living together and jamming in our apartment especially," Keen says in his native Australian accent. "We'd come home and one person would start playing music and everyone else would start without talking. It was like playing music was the expected activity if we were all going to be in the same room. That was kind of nice because we just played so much."
Keen and American-born Beeler met at a corny McGill University mixer in Montreal and started playing music together before Keen headed back to Australia for a while. In the interim, Beeler and May began collaborating before Keen returned, Stidworthy joined the proceedings, and a preliminary version of Ought came to life.
"Part of what this band do is capture that feeling of picking up and playing an instrument all the time," Keen explains. "There was no real, 'I'm gonna teach you this song,' or 'I'm doing this for this purpose.' We were just doing it all of the time and trying to document what emerged as the band. That was successful for us and we're still trying to do that."
According to Stidworthy, the too-many-cooks method works far better in Ought than any singular approach does. "There have been times when I've been messing around and a bass riff will come to me and some times I'll bring it out in jams if it's working, but I think generally, the band haven't liked the bass lines I've come up with independently," he says as his bandmates loudly crack up. "The ones that we've all thought 'This is good,' have come about organically."
Beeler adds, "We're really not a genre band and it takes a while for us to write songs. It's hard to find a style roof to find shelter under sometimes, but we did play all of time. I absolutely think living together… we don't do a lot of talking when we're playing these sounds. It's this wordless thing and then something small will happen and it will all start gelling. I feel really privileged to work with people who can play like this."
Read our full story on Ought's new album here.
More Than Any Other Day is out now on Constellation. You can see their recently fleshed out live schedule below.
05/03 Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Night Bazaar
05/29 Montreal, QC - Turbohaus
06/13 Montreal, QC - Casa del Popolo
06/20 Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade NYC
06/29 Phoenix, AZ - Pub Rock *
06/30 Tucson, AZ - Solar Culture *
07/02 Dallas, TX - Three Links *
07/03 Austin, TX - Holy Mountain *
07/04 New Orleans, LA - Gasa Gasa *
07/05 Nashville, TN - TBD *
07/06 Atlanta, GA - TBD *
07/07 Durham, NC - Pinhook *
07/08 Washington, DC - Black Cat Backstage *
07/09 Philadelphia, PA - Boot & Saddle *
07/11 Brooklyn, NY - Baby's All Right *
07/12 Boston, MA - Church *
07/13 Montreal, QC - Casa del Popolo *
07/14 Toronto, ON - The Drake *
07/16 Bloomington, IN - TBD *
07/17 St. Louis, MO - TBD *
07/18 Chicago, IL - TBD *
07/19 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry *
07/20 Kansas City, MO - Riot Room *
07/21 Denver, CO - Lost Lake *
07/22 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court *
07/23 Boise, ID - The Crux *
08/08 Haldern-Rees, Germany - Haldern Pop
08/09 Copenhagen, Denmark - Wasn't Born To Follow Festival
08/10 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso
08/11 Paris, France - Le Mecanique Ondulatoire
08/12 Bordeaux, France - Les Vivres De L'Art Festival
08/13 St. Malo, France - La Route Du Rock Festival
08/15 London, England - Jabberwocky
08/16 Brecon Beacons, Wales - Green Man Festival
* with Dub Thompson