By Alex Meakin
Mike Skinner, formally of The Streets, and Rob Harvey, formally of The Music, have joined forces on their new project The D.O.T. With an album already released the band are currently on a UK tour. I caught up with them both ahead of their show at the Bullingdon Arms in Oxford tonight!
-So Mike, how did you and Rob Harvey get together?
Mike: “We used to share the same manager and it was roughly through that really. We would see each other at parties for people we both knew. But more recently his band split up and I decided to stop doing The Streets and there was a period of messing around and going to the studio and jamming with musicians from my band. He came down to one of these sessions and we ended up writing two really good songs which are actually going to be on the next D.O.T album. We get on incredibly well, we are really good friends and we’ve got an easy working relationship because I’m so into production and he’s so into singing it fits together really well.”
-How’s the D.O.T’s UK tour been so far?
Rob: “It’s been exciting, it’s been a challenge, it’s been rewarding all at the same time. I think the idea of starting again and going to these smaller places and playing these towns is really humbling and makes me feel like I have fallen back in love with singing and music again in a way that I’d kind of lost touch with. It’s refreshing, I’ve really enjoyed it and the reaction to the songs is quite overwhelming to be honest.
“We’ve come in with an upper hand given my past and Mike’s past but it’s quite difficult really because a lot of people want to hear what we’ve always done and people struggle with change, including ourselves. But it’s so rewarding seeing people accepting the songs for what they are and that’s what I’ve really enjoyed on this tour.”
-Your next stop on the tour is Oxford. Is Oxford a place where your music has been well received in the past?
Mike: “It’s quite patronising really but obviously when you think of Oxford you think of the University and Harry Potter and stuff. Yeah, I was probably really drunk the first time we came. We ended up getting the gowns and the mortarboards. But actually there are two sides to Oxford. There’s the toffs and there’s everyone else. I found my first experience in Oxford was brutal in the sense that people were like “No, we’re not toffs mate. There’s normal people here.” But we’ve had some great shows in Oxford.”
Rob: “I think it would be easy to come out with a load of indie or a load of rapping but I think we’ve challenged that. We’ve challenged ourselves. And hopefully people will appreciate that and like what we do.”
-After Oxford the D.O.T have two more UK tour dates, what’s happens after that?
“We have another album that we are nearly finished. We released an album a few weeks ago which is sort of the “greatest hits” of the soundcloud stuff. The songs we’d put on You Tube. So that was really a summing up of all that. But we have an album of all new songs that we’re just about to finish which hopefully will take us into next year. Then we’ll be going out to Japan, then Australia, I think Spain’s next actually.”
-The album has a very unique sound which is difficult to put into an established genre, if you had too put it in a genre which would it be?
Rob: “I never really liked putting the D.O.T a genre. With my old band The Music we were indie and it never felt like we could be anything else and I think me and Mike are quite conscious of that. We want to be able to do what we want. We want to make the music we feel like making. So, I think that when you put yourself in a box you restrict yourself, I don’t like the idea of that.”
Mike: “I’d say it’s Elton John meets Hudson Mohawke. Rob listens to old music primarily. He likes Tapestry by Carole King and the Bee Gees. He’s into soul. He doesn’t get caught up in, like I do, in noises and gimmicks. Rob doesn’t have a lot of time for that. They’ll be really big pop records that he likes that aren’t necessarily really cool to like, he’ll like those. So it’s a combination of someone who really likes songs and someone who really likes gimmicks and beats.”
-A lot of people are saying that this album shows Rob’s development as a song writer. Would you agree with that?
Rob: “I hope so. I wouldn’t to think that I’ve gone backwards. I have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of really interesting writers in the last couple of years. I have always felt like I had more to offer than indie music. My aim in life is to write the perfect song. Whether or not I will achieve it I don’t know but every time I write a song I try to write the perfect song. If I don’t I don’t get angry about it, I just keep trying.
Mike:“He’s been in a band that had a very fixed way of doing things, I think the The Streets was a bit like that in way because The Streets had to have a beginning, a middle and an end. We do carry along parts of that because they are parts of our style but it feels incredibly random at the moment. It doesn’t feel like either of us know what we are doing or what’s going to happen next. I think that’s the reason why we are doing this and that’s the reason why we are not still doing what were doing before.”
-In the album Rob’s voice is the one which is predominately heard. Is favouring producing over a more vocal role something we should come to expect from you in the future?
Mike:“I do like singing. I would love to be a great RnB vocalist, I really would. If I could have one wish that would be my wish, I would be able to sing like Usher. I do like singing and my backing vocals are quite technical, I’m not just a pretty face. But Rob’s the man really, his voice is just so loud, you can’t believe how powerful his voice is. Having said that I’ve always been a producer really.”
The D.O.T’s album And That is already out and the band play at the Bullingdon Arms tonight (November 9th), tickets are still available.