By Anaïs Turiello
Yoo Doo Right are a Montreal-based band with the power to electrify, hypnotize, and challenge the traditional ways of experiencing post-rock as we know it. The trio, consisting of Justin Cober, Charles Masson, and John Talbot, fuse krautrock with shoegaze, using their own blend of sonic experimentation paired with modern ideals of resistance to capitalist structures in society.
On May 21st, their first full-length record, “Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose” was released, already giving listeners a deep and almost haunting sentiment to reflect upon, just with the title alone. Upon listening, genres begin to blur and each song starts to sound more and more otherworldly, entering a realm not yet explored. It is grandiose and immensely intoxicating, taking listeners on a journey through space and time.
WLUW had the chance to speak with Justin Cober about the record … as well as performing in a post-pandemic setting, finding a purpose in the modern world, and more.
WLUW: How has the reception been for your recently released record, ‘Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose?’
Justin Cober: It’s been better than expected. It’s been really lovely, the response we’ve gotten for it. The song’s are so old to us so we’d kind of forgotten about it and moved on but it’s been really nice to have a lot of people listening to it and talking about it.
WLUW: That’s got to be really exciting. Are you already cooking up some new stuff down the line?
JC: Yeah, we have another record finished and ready to go. We’re just kind of waiting for the dust on this one to settle a little bit and wait until we can tour again.
WLUW: The first track of the record, ‘A Certain Sense of Disenchantment’ feels to me a little like aliens landing on Earth. What was the inspiration for that track because I think it’s especially interesting.
J: You could probably just consider it to be filler but on the way to the recording session, we drove out to Quebec City, and I had this thing kind of bouncing around in my head and so when we had a little bit of time late one night, I asked John to break out the timpani’s and we just kind of made this weird droning opening to the record.
WLUW: It has a very sonic sound mixed with the rock from the rest of the record. I think it’s a great introduction piece.
WLUW: You’ve played a few outdoor shows during this pandemic which some bands have done but not a lot have been able to experience. How much of a difference did it make being able to still connect with fans in that way despite the level of intimacy being skewed?
J: I would say it’s definitely not the same and we’ve opted to basically not play another show until we can breathe on each other. That’s kind of our live performance. It can be overwhelming and commanding and there’s something about being in a room full of people and feeling that sort of energy–it’s very important to us. It’s hard to get that when you have a limited capacity and are all spread out, not really getting that opportunity to really be around each other and kind of feel that palpable trainwreck of the sounds.
WLUW: I don’t know how Canada is doing with lockdown and easing restrictions but I know the U.S is starting to have shows again. Do you think you guys might start touring again since we’re opening up again?
J: Yeah, we’ve been booking tours. We’re going to be going to Europe in the fall, like November. Hopefully doing U.S next spring and Europe again next spring. Things are starting to slowly open up here. Everybody’s getting vaccinated so that helps. We’re no longer under our city imposed curfew in Montreal, which is great.
WLUW: What are you most looking forward to with touring other than being able to be intimate again?
J: I’d say just traveling. Personally, I’m very much a morning person. I wake up as the sun is rising. So usually, when John and Charles are still asleep, I like to get up and have a coffee in whatever city we’re in and just walk around. It’s the best way to be a tourist without taking or consuming culture. You’re actually coming as a traveler and contributing something to each city’s culture and I must prefer that as a form of travel. I think that’s what I like most about touring–the traveling aspect but not feeling like a tourist.
WLUW: I think that’s a really great way of looking at it. Moving on to where you’re from, Montreal. I hear it has a great music scene. How have your surroundings shaped your sound, if they have in any way?
J: They have very much because we’re constantly surrounded by and collaborating with and supported by the most incredible musicians that we’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I think that has a big influence, you know, going and having beers in a parking lot by some shipping containers with people you could safely call your heroes and just talking about music. It has an undoubted affect on the sounds that we create and that we all create in this city. Whether or not it’s a direct collaboration, there’s that sort of collaborative sense of community. It’s a big metropolitan city but it feels so small.
WLUW: I feel like we definitely have something very similar in Chicago so I do get what you mean.
J: Very much! There’s something in your water there that I’ve rarely seen or heard of a bad band from Chicago.
WLUW: I agree! Circling back to your music, it seems as though your sound transcends the limits of a single genre. How would you describe this new record in your own words?
J: I think overwhelming is a good way to put it. It’s expansive. It’s experimental music and we experimented a lot. There’s this sort of commanding sound to it. We feel that our intentions with it really came across well with the people we worked with to record and mix the record. It’s loud–I’d definitely use the word loud.
WLUW: The title of the record, as well, is quite the statement. So, what inspired it and what does it mean to you and the band as a whole?
J: Without going into too much detail, I love the idea that whoever reads that title will extrapolate whatever that means to them from it. The name of the record came about at a time when I was personally questioning my worth as a human being trying to exist outside of capitalist frameworks and trying to consider what the human body means, what the purpose of the human body is to the world around us. Unfortunately, it has come to mean productivity and growth and our imposed purpose in life is to contribute to more capitalistic frameworks. I’m lucky enough to exist completely outside of what would be considered a financially viable career. I make music and my job is absolutely my passion. So yeah, it’s kind of this idea of finding a purpose for yourself outside of the value that’s placed on your mind and your body. Like when you’re going to a job that you hate and only being considered valuable for what a productive member of society you are. I think that’s something that is very important to challenge. For me, it’s calling into question what your true purpose in this world is. An existence based on supporting care ethics, that’s far more valuable than making hamburgers all day for somebody. And that’s never financially compensated. I think, that’s what it means to me but again, it can mean whatever you want it to mean.
WLUW: I really like that explanation. I think it’s a very prevalent topic right now. People are really starting to call out labor ethics and income inequality and I think that’s a central topic right now that people need to keep talking about and keep making art about, so I think it’s great.
J: With COVID, we’ve been given a real opportunity to call into question what is is that we form our identities around because so much of that has been taken away from us. And a lot of people lost their jobs and are just left wondering, ‘Okay, what the f*ck am I going to do next?’
WLUW: I had one last question that you kind of touched on earlier when you said the next record is done, even though it’ll probably be a while until we get to hear that. With that in mind, what can we expect next from Yoo Doo Right?
J: We’ve got some collaborative stuff that we’ve done that we will be releasing as singles. We’ll be doing some touring hopefully. We won’t be coming to the U.S until probably next spring. We’ll keep making music and putting it into the world. Just making music– that’s all we’re here to do. Hopefully light a fire under some people’s butts and have our music used as a way to indirectly support what we’re all kind of fighting for.