Unusual Operators

Local rockers No Doctors eschew the formulaic

A few years back, when No Doctors called Chicago home, the quartet was active in the Midwest's now-flourishing underground noise and freak-rock scene, a sprawling network of bands and musicians who eschew the traditional approach to record production (a full-length here, a single there) for recording every single sound they make and releasing every single sound they record via unremitting streams of limited-edition CD-Rs and cassettes. Basically, it's the "put out as much stuff as you humanly can" approach.

No Doctors relocated to the Bay Area in the fall of 2004 and appears to have ditched this very approach because its lone release in over a year is "T-Bone Pts. 1 & 2," a 7-inch for the local imprint Yik Yak. And instead of feeling like some improvised chunk of hastily recorded noise, this extended composition split over two sides is a well-crafted, multisuite exploration of punchy boogie-rock, taut twin-guitar riffage, and propulsive sax-led mutant dance grooves. It's No Doctors' most focused release to date and clear evidence that these dudes — Cansafis, Chauncy Chaumpers, Elvis S. DeMarrow, and Mr. Brian — have decided that less is more, an interesting realization to have when the aforementioned CD-R-noise thing is tearing across the country like wildfire.

I recently stopped by the group's Oakland practice space with a 12-pack of Heinekens and asked the guys to explain their little switcheroo. Observe:

Chauncy: It's an easy way out, to flood the market and just be pleased with yourself every time you get something on tape. I think we enjoy that denial of release. It's like an ascetic, a monk in a monastery, where you deny yourself this release and then when it comes time to eventually release something, it becomes this magical thing. It accumulates all the energy that could have been dissipated in these little 50-here, 50-there, quick, easy CD-R recordings.

Elvis: The problem isn't the fact that the music ends up in a digital format. It's the approach. It's the fact that the music is not made to be a record. It needs to be conceived, executed, and focused on as an actual record.

Chauncy: When we put these barriers in front of ourselves, they demand that we leap higher than we would otherwise. The CD-R is not a high barrier for us. A vinyl record is.

Elvis: When we were young, we were publishing a lot of CD-Rs and cassettes, and a lot of them were really good. But we were also publishing gorgeous full-length LPs. And it gave us a value system early on. Cassettes are cool, but I am much more excited about the 7-inch we just did. A 7-inch is just so magical because it's such a small amount of material but so much is invested into it creatively and financially. It's just a better artifact.

Chauncy: Working towards an actual piece of vinyl ensures quality control. It means that we are not going to try and sell our fans a recording of every time we cough into a microphone.

Elvis: But we will sell them coffee mugs.

Chauncy: Yeah, that's our retirement plan. But seriously, we just want to maintain a good relationship with the people who support us so they don't feel like we're exploiting them.

Cansafis: And if anybody steals our demos and puts out a CD-R, I'll punch them.

Elvis: Yeah, we'll punch them in the face, 100 percent.

 
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