Julie Penner photo
Do make say think is one of the few bands that formed in an elementary school.
In 1995, while attending a sound engineering class at the Harris Music Institute, bassist/trumpet Charles Spearin and guitarist Ohad Benchetrit assembled a group of friends in a classroom for a school project. They pulled the ad hoc band’s name from verb cards pinned on the walls: ‘Do,’ ‘Make,’ ‘Say’ and ‘Think.’
“They cut two or three songs, the loose skeletons of which became the basis for our first album,” said drummer Dave Mitchell, a latecomer to the group.
That training came in handy for the Toronto collective. Along with saving cash through self-producing and recording their five albums, it helps them unravel a song’s possibilities, from tweaking notes to adding effects. However, Mitchell said the group plays songs, not studio-sculpted tracks.
“A song needs to stand on its own — no amount of tweaking knobs or filtering can save a bad song,” said Mitchel. “We shape our sound, but ultimately we’re still a band and have a band feel.”
The band’s slow-paced, detailed-oriented instrumental rock also draws inspiration from their recording environments. For example, being holed up in a rural cottage recording their newest, You, You’re A History In Rust, gave the work a unique tone.
“[Different environments] offer different sonic characteristics that most bands probably wouldn’t like,” he said. “Crickets, popping fireplaces — sounds like that help give the music its character.”
After a decade together, band members balance side projects with band commitments. These other responsibilities, which range from Broken Social Scene to Lullaby Arkestra, are treated as distinct from Do Make’s work.
“It lets everyone scratch their itch,” said Mitchel. “Everyone just has different musical personalities…[but] we are as we are together.”