Doris is best known for it’s unique brand of psychedelic rock. The band went through several evolutions in structure and sound but always remained faithful to an outlandish, experimental approach to music. Probably one of the few bands to hit the big time with the musical stylings of a set of cans, children’s toys and a hose, the group continually amazed fans with their spectacular concerts and artistic vision. Despite having separated in 2007, they remain one of Argentina’s most exciting and inventive bands.
The seeds of the group were sown in 1996 when Nacho Rodriguez and Marcelo Blanco met at college. Initially the two were interested in punk music but when they met Liza Casullo they were inspired by her sweet voice and poetic, lyrical abilities.
The original group was formed in 2000 with Nacho Rodríguez on guitar, drums and vocals, Marcelo Blanco on percussion, guitar and vocals, Liza Casullo on guitar and vocals and Julián Srabstein on bass and vocals. In 2001, Julián Zamtlejfer joined the band as a singer, drummer, and guitarist. Several changes were made later – Zamtlejfer left in 2004 to be replaced by Larva Peruzotti who also left in 2006.The band’s vision and attitude, however, remained the same.
Doris played their first concert on the 23rd September in 2000, at Cátulo Castillo in Buenos Aires and two years later recorded their first album, signed to the Ultrapop label. The album, entitled ”Doris,” showcased the band’s guitar skills and featured the ‘wall of sound’ style made famous by record producer Phil Spector in LA in the 1960s. This recording style resulted in a rich and complex guitar sound with an intense depth and melody. The album earned Doris international acclaim; in 2003 Rolling Stone heralded them as ‘the next big thing’.
Despite this success, the band’s next album saw them take a completely new direction. ”Doyle, la Operetta del Gaucho Drogado” was recorded in 2004 and marked the beginning of an experimental style that would take the band far beyond the indie guitar rock that had made them famous.
The change came about almost accidentally, inspired by a gathering at a friend’s house: “ A friend invited us to play but said we couldn’t make much noise so we made more intimate versions of our songs and while we were rehearsing them, we starting making other new ones,” the band said at the time in an interview with Pagina 12. The new sound was softer and altogether more unusual than their first offering, and demonstrated its new-found interest in unusual instruments and sounds. The band devised the album in a small village near San Pedro, the home-town of one of the members.
“It wasn’t intentional at all,” said Casullo of the new sound – “the room just filled with rare instruments and without any pressure on the time or the hours of recording, we just played.”
The resulting album is a psychedelic-infused record inspired by 70s folks rock and bands such as Pink Floyd, which defies existing categories or labels. “I think it’s a multifaceted record, nothing is ever too concrete,” said Srabstein in a 2006 interview with La Nación.
Increasingly, the band sought to focus on a holistic musical vision, expressing themselves through art and performance as much as through the songs on their album. In their review of “Doyle…,” La Nación characterised the album as made up of “sound experiences as imaginative as the William Morris foliage imitations which inspired the album cover,” while Página 12 declared it “a true display of talent, the art work is beautiful…seeing them live is a must.”
This new sound would come to define the band over the next few years. Unusual instruments mingle with children’s choruses and dream-like lyrics, producing the effect of a trumpet on acid. The band’s live shows were equally surreal and became the centre point for much of their creativity and vision. After their initial show in Buenos Aires, the band continued to play in Buenos Aires as well as in Córdoba, La Plata, Morón, Burzaco and Martinez. They also played at concert halls, cultural centres and theatres like La Trastienda in 2004 and 2005 and Lasalle in 2004, as well as at a number of festivals.
Each show blurred the boundaries between concert, music and theatre. Without a defined lead singer, the band habitually switched instruments during the show, lending a democratic and liberating atmosphere to their shows.
“It’s a state of freedom,” said Casullo in a 2006 interview, “it’s something chemical that we generate between us, something that takes on its own force.”
Doris released two morerecords before splitting in 2007: “Embarazzo psicodélico” and “Achandá”. Rodriguez and Blanco went on to establish the band ‘Onda Vaga’, which has also proved to be successful.
Genre: Psychedelic folk rock fusion
Most Well-Known Song: Así
Famous for: Mixing psychedelic 70s rock with folk, traditional french song and the noises made by a hose….
In their own words: ”Psychedelia is a differing way of perceiving music, it takes the classic form of a song and re-creates it as a game or a journey.”
Best to listen to: In a fernet and mate induced haze, while experimenting with the use of a saucepan as a guitar