Upon a casual listen to Doe’s first full-length album, “Somethings Last Longer Than You,” one can be forgiven if they feel transported to the glory days of the mid-90s where fuzzy, grungy guitar hooks commanded the airwaves.

The London-based trio consisting of Nicola Leel (guitar, vocals), Jake Popyura (drums, vocals) and Dean Smitten (guitar), first showed a keen ear for nostalgia on the various EPs they released from 2013 to 2016. While bands in the States have just started to catch on to the 90s resurgence, Doe were ahead of the pack.

“Somethings Last Longer Than You,” while reminiscent of things past, showcases that Doe is, also, adaptable in moving into the future.

The Swerve Magazine recently spoke with the band about their sound, their first East Coast tour and what is next for the band.


The Swerve Magazine: I hate to start with a basic introductory question, but since this may be the first time a lot of people may be getting to hear Doe, can you give a little bit of history of how the band got together? How did you get into music/songwriting?

Jake Popyura: Nicola and I met a little over five years ago through a classified ad. We'd both had trouble finding people who wanted to do the kind of thing we had in mind, so it was a relief to run into each other and be on such a similar wavelength from the off. We started writing together right away, but Doe didn't start properly for about six months. After a couple different guitarists, Dean joined in 2015 and was like the missing piece. I got into music and songwriting initially through my parents; my dad had a guitar and a 4-track that he taught me how to use, so I started writing and recording stuff when I was pretty young.

Dean Smitten: Missing piece! Cute. Yeah, I guess like most basic white boys, I was handed a guitar at 13 and played until I was okay at it? I wrote music growing up, but never really took it seriously until I started a project of my own at the start of 2015. Nicola asked if I wanted to learn some Doe songs a few months later, which I was super happy to do. We met, practiced and luckily our musical chemistry was—and  still is—on point. We've come a long way since then it's all kind of a blur.

Nicola Leel: I took violin lessons, and 11-year old me decided pretty quickly that guitar was a much cooler instrument to be playing. It never seemed like an option not to write original songs and find a band; it was just intrinsically what I wanted to do.

SM: The band played SXSW this year, is this the band's first real tour of the US? How did this US East Coast tour come about?

JP: Yeah, this is our first tour over here. Yankee Bluff (who we're out with) are our pals who we met when we toured with their old band Dogs on Acid in the UK a couple years ago. We've been talking about doing a stateside run together ever since then so finally decided to pull the thumbs out of our butts and make it happen! We love them, and it's as much of a summer holiday with our friends as it is a tour.

SM: There seems to be currently a resurgence in 90s influence on indie bands. It seems to have happened over the last year or so, "First Four," and the EPs that came before that makeup "First Four," had that grungy sound of the 90s years before. Why does it seem that it takes something to start overseas before it catches on here in the states?

DS: This is interesting 'cause I feel like it's the other way round. I almost exclusively look to US artists for inspiration. Our UK peers are doing great stuff, but yeah, America knows best in my opinion.

NL: Yeah, that's very interesting to hear! I guess there were a lot of UK acts that heavily influenced that original wave of music, with both sides bringing unique musical perspectives to it.

SM: I read in in an interview that the band feels that songwriting is an art form that doesn't get the appreciation it deserves. I truly believe that idea too. It took over 40 writers to make Beyonce's "Lemonade." Over 40 writers. She and that album are celebrated though there is really little of her writing on it. Can you talk about the struggle of being an actual songwriting that writes and performs their own material and why the art is so important?

NL: This feels like it needs a response in two parts, we definitely value good songwriting and the process that goes into working together to develop something beyond that initial bud of an idea. It's such a buzz to bring something to your friends and come out with a song that you've all collaborated on to make it as good as it can be (hopefully). The Beyoncé reference isn't super relevant for me, because there you have an artist who has such a strong identity musically and otherwise, those 40 people wouldn't be able to have input in those songs without everything she's built upon. I also wouldn't like to speculate on a songwriting process that we haven't been privy to, and I think we're all aware by this point that the media/industry likes to portray female artists as less involved in their art than they are. Big Beyoncé production rules and so does writing songs with two of your friends on three instruments.

SM: The band's debut LP "Some Things Last Longer Than You," came out last year. It sonically seems to be a heavier sounding album was this intended or was it just the evolution of the band over the years?

DS: In hindsight, that record is really heavy. I don't think we realised that at the time? Everything we're writing currently feels a lot more refined. The second album is gonna be heavy in places, but it's mostly punchy and lighter on the whole. We were in a very different space for “Some Things,” and although the world is still fucked, the three of us are in a better place.

SM: "First Four" had power pop nuggets that were under four minutes for the most part. "Some Things..." has three songs over four minutes long, one almost at five minutes. Is this a growing confidence that was born out of those EPs? Is there a fear that in this day and age with extremely short attention spans, some people may tune out for longer songs?

JP: Because all the songs on “First Four” were written for individual EPs, I guess they naturally came out a little shorter and sharper. It's really apparent that it's a bunch of songs from different short form releases thrown together. “Some Things...” we very much wrote as one cohesive thing, and for the first time, we had more time and tracks to play with so we could afford to try things out and write slightly weirder draggier songs to compliment the shorter poppier stuff.

NL: With every release, we are finding ourselves musically and getting a bit more comfortable with what we do. We all feel that it's much more interesting to play/write / listen to music that develops, what's the point in writing the same songs over and over?

SM: Is the band currently writing new material? Do you set aside time to write or do you constantly write?

JP: It's a mixture of both... we're always writing ideas individually, but then we consciously put time aside to bring those ideas together and work on them as a band and figure out how they'll work together in a set or as a release or whatever. We're finishing off writing our second album right now which is super exciting. It's some of our favourite stuff we've done to date, and I can't wait for people to hear it!

NL: It's nice to have something to write towards, and personally I find it really interesting to see patterns or shifts in our songwriting style when we start that process, you can almost see our collective conscious change with each release.

DS: Our collective conscious is definitely something that's become clearer during the writing process for this second record. I feel like we've worked hard - separately and collectively - to get to a positive place and the music sounds more cohesive because of it. Being in a band can be a really good way to grow as a person if you want it to be.

SM: What comes next for Doe?

JP: Dinner.

DS: 7th rest stop of the day.

NL: Keep tricking people into booking shows for us so we can go on holiday with our friends.