dd/mm/yyyy Are They Masks?

dd/mm/yyyy Are They Masks?
For a world contaminated with suffocated minds, we sure have found an outlet for those left unsatisfied and confused: art. It’s sometimes hard to remember that music is art. For Toronto’s DD/MM/YYYY, music is akin to a shattered mirror — all the remains are scattered on the pavement and in each lays a reflection of our shaky existence. This jammy set of 21 songs is not exactly cohesive but is life? Not quite; it’s unpredictable and scary, beautiful and erratic, dirty and above all things, real, much like these songs. Swinging from post-rocking landscapes with messy chants and/or whispers to bouncing guitar and simplistic bass riffs tinted with intricate drum work and bi-polar melodies, DD/MM/YYYY blatantly fuck with the rules for writing indie rock. This is what makes these frantic cats a cut above their local contemporaries. On the progressive, synth squealing "Live Sex Acts” there is a sample of a girl asking, "Do your lips get tanned?” and it’s easy to assume that listening to this album full blast may burn them right off. Many may not be ready to accept these awkwardly assembled mixes into their lives but once you do, you’ll wish you had much sooner.

Many people are blind to creativity; where do you find your endless amounts of inspiration?
Tomas Del Balso: Creativity is a good word to use because the creative capital and energy can get a lot of things done. We all live in downtown Toronto and you’re inundated with media, culture and mass production. All these things that are just surrounding you at bars and in the subways; you have to figure out what’s your life style. [Our] songs that deal with pop culture are not necessarily a negative point, more of a cautious point. So, instead of being moms that are cautious, we’d rather be classy with our attitudes.

It’s your second full-length but I don’t think you’ve established a DD/MM/YYYY sound, more so an attitude.
Yeah, that’s a good way to put it! To try to put music on to one page is not really the point of the album; we’re not trying to perfect anything. It’s just to see what the potential of an idea can be. It can start from just someone humming or reading a People magazine, or turning off a television, or riding a bike, something like that can trigger a song. So, sure, it’s messy, but clean at the same time.

The new album hits stores tomorrow! How are you feeling?
Pretty awesome. Making it was a long process.

More strenuous than the last album, Blue Screen of Death?
No. It was different. We got to really work on the album without having to worry about technical things about the recording so much because we had someone help us record.

Why did you decide to bring Roger Leavens in to produce?
Well, it really started off as just a few songs that we were going to record and we didn’t want to pass up a good opportunity to be in he studio. What happened was we talked with Roger at Boom Box Studio and he asked if we could do a couple songs. He’s a really cool dude and really encouraging with a lot of different instruments and ideas.

How did that go from being "let’s record a few songs” to the 21-track album?
Well, basically we became better friends with him. We got to know each other, got to hanging out and we have a lot of common interests musically, so it just took off and we went to record more. There was no limit. We really experimented and tried to figure out all the different ways to record ourselves; it was just natural. We just kept going in and we liked him so much, so that’s why we recorded with him.

Do you think having a producer this time around affected the song structures at all?
Yeah, but that wasn’t his choice at all. He didn’t have a real say in the songs, more so the sound of the instruments we were using or the techniques. We recorded our first album and it was a big do-it-yourself venture where we had to learn which microphones to rent, different spaces to use, and we used different spaces other than the studio to record this album too. We recorded a couple on our own for this album and we tried different things. He was so encouraging though that he asked us if we wanted to record with an eight-track and we recorded a couple songs on there straight to tape rather than digital. It’s just this great relationship that evolved that we totally want to keep up. The way the songs are structured has basically always been [by] the band, the five of us just continuously playing music together. Every song has a different reason or story for how it came about. That part of making music is totally just the five of us as a band and the recording we left to Roger Leavens. It didn’t really change that we chose to make them more "songs” than just a 15-minute epic stream of noise like our first album, that was just where the band were heading.

What were you looking for in the songs that actually made it on to the album?
Basically we had a lot of songs that we were writing while we were releasing the first album and there were a lot of ideas for what we could do with the band and where we could take it. We just wanted to try whatever we wanted to try and the songs will sort of make sense of that later, and there were different ideas we all put together and kept talking about and kept playing. Just, like, drumming in a basement and moving things around, making music, making noise, trying different ideas. We took lyrics from People Magazine for a song, we took different motifs from pop culture and at the same time we took stuff from our everyday lives just living and making art, music and meeting people. The ideas that worked we kept on the album.

Would you say it’s more focused than Blue Screen of Death?
It’s more eclectic; I still think Blue Screen is way more focused as an album and a musical piece. This album is just a lot of ideas that are colliding. We do our best to make sense of them. There are a lot of sounds and a lot of ideas and at certain points, I feel like I’m listening to a different album than I initially started listening to and that was just the idea. Our next recordings will be a culmination of those songs into something that’s more current and relevant to us. Some of these songs are really old, some of them are really new and they have all the different attitudes and ideas that the band project.

Can we focus in on some of those ideas?
Sure. There’s what we call "Live Sex Acts,” which is really attached to the idea of pop culture and sort of looking at celebrity culture, pharmaceutical culture, looking at recreational drug use and popular movies from the ’80s and ’90s. There are a lot of suggestions, I guess, and attitude in the music, yet there’s another part of the music that’s more of the "Are They Masks?” part of the album where the songs are more about life and more about just making things, motivating yourself and encouraging everyone around you. We tried to make songs that are a progression from our last album.

You don’t mind that the album is kind of inconsistent?
Yeah, well, it’s like every song on this album is a different song, a different mask, a different sound and feel. We wanted to release something that we could have a lot of choice in what we play live because it’s always a totally different experience live. We never play the [whole] album live. Our performance is very important to the band.

Your songs always seem to sound different when played live, compared to their recorded version.
If it changes when we’re performing it’s because there’s always a different relationship with the audience and with how much energy they have. Every show has a different energy and we like to feed off the audience and try to get people dancing to what isn’t always danceable. Open-mindedness, community and love are sort of like a religion for this band. (We Are Busy Bodies)