Smile Politely

Doomsayer: Converging into one

It’s this upcoming Saturday. You’ve had your turkey—or other soy-based protein cube—and you’ve spent an enormous amount of time with people who just don’t get you. (Chess boxing is a legitimate sport. Why can’t your family just support you?) You’re probably exhausted from translating your natural responses into ones that are accepted by your family. You’re five pounds heavier. Now it’s time to get back to your rock ‘n roll lifestyle. 

If you like live music, and you live in the C-U area, you’ve most likely been to Mike ‘N Molly’s at one point or a hundred. Saturday night, Doomsayer is playing. I had a chance to talk to guitarist and vocalist Jake Lee about their upcoming show.

Smile Politely: Where did the band name come from?

Jake Lee: The name Doomsayer was my idea. We knew that we wanted to write music that was dark and aggressive, so I came up with the name one day. It felt right, as our music is a little “doomy” and sometimes dramatic.

SP: Fair enough. 

Who are the band mates? How did you meet and start making music?

Lee: Doomsayer is comprised of myself and Nathan Landolt. We occasionally play with a bassist, but, essentially, we are a two piece. I’ve known Nathan since about 2006. We met through a mutual friend, and learned that we shared a lot of common interests in music, so we started playing in bands and going to shows together. We’ve jammed and played in quite a few different projects together, mainly and namely, The Masada Complex and 1999. Before Doomsayer, it had been a while since we played in anything together, mainly because I had been so caught up with college/schooling.

SP: What did you study in college? Was it music related, or did you have a different major?

Lee: My degree says History, but I studied history in conjunction with social anthropology and philosophy. I guess it all stemmed out of interests in social theory and being curious about people. So, it wasn’t music related, no, but, to me, music and philosophy go hand in hand. Especially in punk rock or hardcore. In my opinion, Voltaire and Nietzsche were pretty “punk” for their time. I like things that transcend and push boundaries, and that challenge oppression. 

Doomsayer’s lyrics are simple, but I get a lot of inspiration and influence from Nietzsche in writing them. We have a song called, “we are our own gods.” I was talking to one of my History major friends about it, and all she had to say was, “Wow, that’s pretty Nietzsche,” and I’m totally okay with that.

SP: Philosophy and music pair quite naturally together, I think.

What are your other musical influences and inspirations? And your personal ones, too.

Lee: Oh man, this is a tough question. I’ll try to keep it relevant and limit it to the context of Doomsayer…

Shai Hulud has always been a huge influence and inspiration to me, musically and personally. Their lyrics are written very well, and have always been very profound and thought provoking. They have this amazing way of writing songs about misanthropic themes, while still pulling personal growth out of negative experiences. Lyrically, I admire that a lot and aspire to do that with Doomsayer. It’s very easy to write a song about being jaded, feeling negative or angry. I try to harness that kind of energy into more productive things like self enlightenment and overcoming oppressive feelings. I don’t know how “successful” I am at that, but I definitely try. 

As far as Doomsayer’s sound aesthetic goes, I try hard NOT to get direct influence from any particular bands, as it can pigeonhole one’s sound. But I’d also be lying if I said I don’t indirectly get influenced by what I’m listening to. Some of the things I was listening to while writing some of Doomsayer’s music were: Converge (lots of Converge…); Birds in Row; Baroness; Nails; and other eclectic things coming out about a year ago. Converge was a pretty big influence on me when I was getting into more aggressive music. Nathan and I actually did a Converge cover set in his old basement four years ago! 

SP: It’s just you and Nathan (for the most part). Do you ever have conflicting ideas about the direction of the band or the way a song should turn out? How do you deal with that?

Lee: Nathan and I have always had a pretty good chemistry between us. Especially since we’ve been friends for so long, and have played together in previous bands. We play together in Doomsayer because we have a mutual understanding of what Doomsayer’s sound is. That isn’t to say that either of us have an expectation of a specific sound, either, though. 

I generally write following a guideline/wave length in my head of what I think works between the two of us. There haven’t been too many conflicts so far. We do write songs occasionally and drop them or alter them as we go, but that is just a part of the whole process, I think.

SP: Sounds like you’re working pretty well in harmony. 

What’s next for you? Are you touring, recording, settling in for the winter…?

Lee: Right now, we’re just playing around. We’re trying to do more out of town. We’ve played Peoria and Chicago, and will continue to branch out to other cities and venues. Touring would be awesome, but I’m still adjusting/settling into my current schedule and lifestyle, and Nathan is immensely busy running Error Records; booking bands and balancing his other musical projects. Perhaps, someday, but the idea of anything longer than a weekend stint will have to wait for now. 

As far as recording goes, we have recorded two songs. One of them is up and available for listening at our Bandcamp page. Nathan and I have talked about doing some more recordings and possibly a few small EPs, releasing the songs in chunks. So, there will likely be more coming out sometime soon in the near future. We originally thought we’d do a longer release, with more than just a few songs on it, but at the pace that we have to move at (due to work/scheduling), shorter EPs just make a lot more sense. 

Right now, we’re just enjoying jamming, writing, and playing the shows that we can.

Head out to Mike ‘N Molly’s on Saturday. You’ll see Doomsayer, along with Dino Bravo and Kowabunga! Kid. Get a drink, see some music. You need to dance off that turkey with family guilt gravy. 

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