Elegy To The Void: An Interview with Du Vide

Alex Fatato is literally rolling on the floor, laughing his ass off.

A genuine “roflmao” outside of exaggerated texts feels rare, but Fatato is both the kind of person and songwriter that isn’t afraid of visceral reactions. The bit that sends him from the couch to the floor laughing comes when Thatcher May, one of Fatato’s best friends and bandmates in Du Vide, embellishes a tour story about nearly drowning in a torrential storm.

“I had a 24-pack of Mountain Dew Baha Blast. I was wired as shit, but in a sober way,” May says. “I went swimming for an hour, trying to catch fish to prepare. Our tent was lifting off the ground and we were camping on a little island in Nebraska that was flooding, so I spent the whole night checking water levels every thirty minutes.”

“I thought you died,” Fatato adds mid-laugh. “You disappeared in the water for an hour.”

Fatato and May reduce each other to gut laughter often and frenetically weave over each other’s stories, betraying the brevity of their friendship that began when May joined the band sometime in 2015. Later this month, they will release their debut full-length.

A few weeks after that, Du Vide will go on indefinite hiatus.

Considering the band’s rapid ascent in Boston’s DIY community over the last three years, Du Vide’s end feels horribly inopportune, but in unpacking their brand of slowcore-indebted math rock, prolific travels across the country, and a friendship that can hardly keep from spilling onto the floor laughing, quitting seems like the most rational thing a young band could possibly do.

May recalls first hearing of Fatato when his beat-making project Holm played alongside Fatato’s early high school band Marshall.

“I think it was one of those bills that went on Sunday afternoons from two in the afternoon until nine at night,” he recalls. “You’d just show up around when you were about to play.” May naturally missed Marshall’s set.

Fatato’s memory of meeting May is less hazy; the duo served as a one-time live band for a local singer-songwriter’s festival appearance. May led off introductions with his chaotic sense of humor.

“I walked in the room and Thatcher was talking from the perspective of an old little league coach,” Fatato recalls. “He was like, ‘good game, dude! That was a good game a couple years ago!’ I just played along… I thought he was kind of a dick.”

Initially comprised of Fatato, his brother Andrew, and childhood best friend Harrison Smith, Du Vide formed in mid-2014. With a revolving door policy on bandmates and friends in celebrated local band Horse Jumper of Love subbing in often, Fatato has a difficult time pinpointing a date when May officially came on board. What is painfully certain, however, is the timeline that led to their upcoming 2015-2016 LP.

“I had a pretty tough time just before my freshman year of college,” Fatato begins. In theory, it was a fairly common transition from high school: a major relationship ended, leading to a distracted first semester of college. “It was a very terrible, messy situation, but I didn’t really want to write about that specifically. I wanted to write about how my life changed; how all this new, bad stuff had sort of surfaced. The record is more like, ‘I used to be a kid and not worry.”

Album closer “Cherry Coke” is a prime example of 2015’s turbulent relationship with growing up: lingering on a memory of his dad buying him soda before a movie, Fatato suddenly launches the band down a knotty, chemically imbalanced path of guitar noodling amidst a wall of sound befitting the most crushing shoegaze act. Its placement on the album is disconcerting after the resolve found on first single “Direct Deposit”; 2015 – 2016’s dealings with age and mental health seem to resolve and reopen themselves repeatedly over the album’s nine songs.

May was passionate about Du Vide’s early output and, in rapid succession, edged his way in as drummer. Convincing Fatato to take on a DIY summer tour to the West Coast with his electronic solo project Sports Coach, the duo added Boston scene veteran Mateo Garcia on bass specifically for the cross-country dates.

“Before we had Mateo in the band, he’d be at every single Du Vide show,” Thatcher recalls. “He’d know all the words and we were like, ‘this dude’s hilarious.”

“We were like, ‘do you want to go on this month long tour?’ and immediately, he was like, ‘hell yeah,” Fatato says. “He’s in, like, six other bands and has two jobs. That’s so Mateo though.” Garcia couldn’t break from recording an album with fellow Boston act Leaner to comment.

May and Fatato slowly nurse a six-pack while explaining their ramshackle tour across America. Their repeated tangents, jumping timelines, and “sorry, we’re almost done’s” might’ve been a bit much after an hour if their tour wasn’t so abnormally compelling. 

Oklahoma was one long quest for unwatered-down beer after playing a Pastafarian church. Dinner in Oregon was a fish that fell out of an osprey’s mouth. Openers varied from a bar fight involving venue staff outside of Detroit to a gimmicky band in the Pacific Northwest with a frontman that appeared as a half-naked heckler in the crowd before singing.

If the tour could be boiled down to two dates though, Fatato would likely go with Missouri and New Mexico, also referred to in the band as the “worst day ever, followed by one of the best days ever.”

“I feel like I can point to Springfield, Missouri as a sort of catalyst for a lot of emotions coming to the surface,” Fatato begins. Bad weather was once again hampering attendance (“I can’t stress to you enough how big this room was and how few people showed up,” May recalls), and the other acts went well over their time. Adding insult to injury, their options for sleep suddenly dried up and May almost got run over by a drunk driver trying to help them after the show.

“I went to the car to lie down,” Fatato says. “I started hyperventilating and calling a bunch of people. I called my brother and he talked me through it. I think that was the first real moment I realized we were thousands of miles away from home.”

“Everyone to an extent has a space where they feel comfortable and safe,” May adds. “The truth is that if you need to get back to that [on tour], it can take something like four days.”

The following night provided some temporary emotional healing for the trio at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The monument is, as suggested, a series of picturesque white sand dunes framed by mountains along the Tularosa Basin.

“It was our first night camping and we got there as it started to sunset. It was such unparalleled beauty, I don’t even know how to describe it,” Fatato says. “There are two high points in my life now: a couple years ago when I got the chance to be a guest conductor for the Boston Pops and being in this desert at sunset.”

A photo of the band playing football on the dunes sets an idyllic scene, but the remaining songs written for 2015 – 2016 feel culled from the minor victories found after Fatato’s darkest days. “Comfort” attests over a swooning instrumental that emotional stability is temporary, but Fatato sounds more prepared for the lows than at any point on 2015. The aforementioned “Deposit” turns a line about taking medication and “giving a shit” about life and loved ones into a battle cry.

“I think Du Vide has a lot of potential and could really do something one day,” May says. “I feel like I can say this somewhat from an outside standpoint because they’re not my songs. I think Du Vide’s very accessible… leaving that behind is interesting to me.”

The decision to end Du Vide unanimously seems hard to pin on a deeper level despite the facts.

May is moving to the Pacific Northwest to, in his own words, “live life a different way” and Fatato is temporarily decamping to Nashville for work and a new project with former bandmate Harrison Smith. Given their history though, a little distance doesn’t seem like something that would hamper Du Vide.

“I feel like I’ve almost milked all the significant ideas of what I tried to do here,” Fatato explains seemingly to both May and I. “I’ve only written two songs in the last year; I don’t feel like I can make more songs that fit in with this band.”

The band continues to avoid the term “break up”, but their sole LP works as a final note in the midst of its writer’s coming of age. Its songs waver at nostalgia and the bodily crises that become more apparent with age. They don’t hold back when anxiety dominates in the backseat of vans, just as they memorialize the beauty found at the top of sand dunes. 2015 – 2016 feels like a document of genuineness and ephemerality, choosing to slip out almost unseen, even if its creators would much rather talk and drink long into the night.

2015-2016 will be available on cassette and digital download May 9th. Du Vide will be playing their last show with Saccharine, Community College, and The Owens on May 13th at The Track Shack.