Make Do And Mend
Every now and again, without the slightest hint of fanfare, a band comes along and changes the game. God knows it won’t be Pitchfork that outs them. It won’t be any other certified bastions of cool that proclaim them to be saviours of a genre. Instead it’s a whisper that starts from the ground up. It’ll be a band that’s evolved organically. Put simply, it’ll be that band that you’ve grown to love desperately in your private time and whom you’ve become obsessed with, and when you resign to sharing the secret with your mates, you realise everyone’s already knee deep in their back catalogue and harbouring their own hearty adoration. Make Do and Mend are one of those bands.
Though their debut album End Measured Mile has only recently been given an Australian birth, it’s initial international release via new label-to-watch Paper+Plastick and their tendency to fraternise with fellow up-and-comers Balance And Composure, Polar Bear Club et al placed them in our sights about a year ago.
When I speak to vocalist James Carroll the band are in the midst of their first ever European tour alongside childhood heroes Hot Water Music.
“Dude, it’s really fucking cool”, Carroll gushes. “We’ve been learning from them for years and years, since we started a band. They’re one of the bands that we looked to as the right way to do things. The right way to carry yourself and present ourselves. The music they make and the way they act, we view that as the right way and so we’ve absolutely learned a great deal from them being on tour.”
Carroll reveals that the band are cautiously walking the fine balance between fandom and professionalism while on tour with their heroes. The band have been arguing amongst themselves for days as to whether it’s unprofessional to ask your tour mates, now peers, for their autographs.
“I’m so scared to. I don’t want to! We were actually joking about it. I mean, you don’t want to seem like the fan boy and be like “you guys are my favourite band ever”, but we’ve got these posters from the tour and we really, really want all of their autographs on it. We’ve been debating it and decided that we can’t ask them, because we’d look like total losers. So we’re contemplating having somebody, a fan, at one of the shows go and get it signed and report back to us,” he laughs.
“But seriously”, he continues, “It’s amazing to come to know them as friends. It’s just mind blowing”.
Any loyal Hot Water Music fan will note, however, that unlike Make Do And Mend who are very much at the beginning of a promising career, Hot Water Music are inversely just reviving a very long and tumultuous existence, only recently having reformed after lying dormant for years. Hot Water’s problems lay predominantly in the demands of touring. Something that Make Do And Mend are just beginning to understand.
“I have an immense amount of respect for Hot Water. Because for a while touring wasn’t right for them so they took time off and then once it felt right again, here they are with no long winded break ups and press. They just followed their gut feeling. Their new material is the best Hot Water Music album that they’ve ever done, so that’s something that I respect and admire. We’ll do this for as long as it feels right. As long as we’re progressing and as long as it’s fun”.
One dares not describe Make Do And Mend’s typifying genre as emo. Their gravelly vocals and stern, powerful choruses can dispel any such accusations, but their lyrics are deeply personal, and often despairing, not unlike that genre we’ve all come to despise so much. Put simply, MDAM are intensely emotional band, and thankfully this is not something that Carroll shies away from.
On album highlight Oak Square laments, “Now there’s something to be said/ for a firm lack of common sense/ cause god knows getting in the van isn’t paying rent”.
It’s this deeply personal nature of the lyrics that has become part of the band’s strong appeal. I offer Frank Turner as a point of comparison, in that his unique knack for expressing that distinct pang of generational discontent plays a very large part in attracting a large and passionate fan base. Carroll instantly agrees.
“I love Frank. And when we started out, we knew we wanted to play intense, emotional and substantial rock music and I think that’s something that we strive really hard for and that we all agree on. My favourite bands were always the ones that were writing straight forward emotional music and gave you the ability to latch onto them. That stuff shapes me as a music fan and it shapes the way I write. I never want to write anything that doesn’t have substantial meaning”.
BY EMILY KELLY
Make Do And Mend play at Counter Revolution this Friday September 30 and will perform a special acoustic instore at Fist 2 Face, Ringwood this Thursday September 29 at 4pm