Just when it seems that bands have exhausted the limits of melody, groups like DD/MM/YYYY come along and stretch the boundaries even further. Since their formation in 2003, this Toronto quintet has been baffling critics with their unconventional electro-pop-meets-indie rock-meets-psychedelia sound. The origin of this musical blend dates back to the band’s creation. Starting off as two separate post-punk bands, they met and decided to release a split seven inch single, before deciding to simply join forces and start DD/MM/YYYY (it’s pronounced “date, month, year.”)
They wanted to blend their passion for visual arts and music with the two original bands’ different musical sensitivities.
“It was really great because all the qualities of both bands came out and it [became] a cool confrontational type of songwriting,” explained singer, guitarist and sometimes drummer Tomas Del Balso. “We’ve spent more time [combined] listening to music than most people so it’s like we’ve been doing our [musical] homework for 10 to 15 years.”
Having all grown up listening to Devo, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and other “fun futuristic bands,” nods to these alternative heavy hitters can be found all over DD/MM/YYYY’s music. But their core musical signature is indefinable. In fact, they are a classic example that explains the creation of terms like “art rock” and “math rock,” vague, all-encompassing terms invented by music writers with a deadline. Yet this alternative sound has become a blessing, raising press attention (and critics’ eyebrows) on an international level and giving them the liberty to tour with a wide variety of bands whose genres range from hardcore punk to psychedelic rock. In addition to touring Europe, DD/MM/YYYY recently received an offer from Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and his new band BEAK> to re-release their latest album Black Square.
Yet all this quirkiness begs the question: what kind of guys are the members of the band? Simplest answer: they’re as artsy as their music. As Del Balso put it, “Yeah we’re quirky dudes. We like to make art, draw pictures and do silkscreening. We like to put up sound installations and do creative-media-type things.” These artistic sensitivities can also be found in their approach to songwriting, with each member “bringing something to the table” and creating in a collaborative environment until “it becomes hard to tell where the idea originated from,” explained Del Balso. Over time they have even learnt to perform a kind of mind meld. Del Balso said they can almost “read each other’s minds so it’s easy to try things because we know what we like and what we don’t like.”
Once the songwriting process is completed, the band moves on to rehearsals, which Del Balso admits takes a lot of time. Each member plays at least two instruments which include multiple guitars, synths, drums and even an omnichord. The band is made up of Mike Claxton, Jordan Holmes and Moshe Rozenbergs, with vocalists Matt King and Del Balso sharing lyric-writing duties.
Having now been together for more than five years, the band admits to maturing musically and theatrically. “People should come and see our show now because we’re transforming and doing new material that is really pushing our capabilities. We’re also pushing the media side of things so people can expect us not only to be a live show but to also become characters on a screen through videos on our website,” said Del Balso.
They are also planning on touring Europe once again and have recently re-released their first album Blue Screen of Death in a vinyl package that includes a colored disk and a silkscreen printed cover. “People will tell us directly to our face that they’ve never heard anything like us before, but that they really enjoyed our show and that they want to start listening to our kind of music. That’s interesting because I don’t see us as being completely different,” mused Del Balso. “But I guess that’s still really cool.”
To check out DD/MM/YYYY visit their website at ddmmyyyy.net or myspace/ddmmyyyy