- Words: Josiah Hughes
A Toronto band expands the post-punk sound one day, month, and year at a time.
When it comes to influences, Toronto five-piece DD/MM/YYYY (pronounced “day month year”) is all over the map. Though their unruly post-punk jams point to the sweaty DIY basement shows they were raised on, the band members themselves reach to loftier inspirations: Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart, Arab on Radar. “They were these legendary, obscure bands that had a capacity for playing poignant, messed-up music. [It was] not necessarily the most commercially viable, mass-relatable kind of music, but they championed it,” says guitarist Tomas Del Balso. “That’s kind of the way I feel about us.”
While their sound is drastically different, there’s no question that DD/MM/YYYY shares a kinship with those bands’ unique, uncompromising vision. On Black Square, their third album, the band offers a rhythmic, pulsating take on progressive post-punk. From the frenetic busyness of opener “Bronzage” through the space-bleep balladry of “They” and the dusty Moog vibe of “Birdtown,” the band simultaneously adds layers of structure and chaos to their ever-expanding sound. “To me, we sound different all the time,” Del Balso says of their sound. “It just depends on the room we’re in or the place we’re playing.”
The past few years have seen the band branch out, playing numerous 60-show tours and sharing the stage with everyone from Crystal Castles and Don Caballero to Diplo. Besides introducing them to new corners of the earth, this constant touring has brought them closer together as friends. “There’s something about the experiences that we have had together that we couldn’t possibly have otherwise,” Del Balso says. “Because we can step back from each other once in a while, and give each other room to breathe, it sort of gives us longevity. You always know that there are songs to be written and shows to be played.”
That said, there’s always the nasty business of trying to keep their ethics in tact. “It’s kind of hard moving from the ground up, from a DIY band to a band that’s trying to be an international band,” Del Balso admits. “Now we have a booking agent in San Francisco who covers us for the USA, and we have a label in Sweden, and a booking agent in Europe. You have to start coordinating in a way you never really thought about when you were just a 21-year-old kid making songs up… But there’s no dude with a ponytail and a big suit on, sitting behind a desk and pushing us. Everything we do is earned.”
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