The Make-Up was an American post-punk band from Washington, D.C. formed in 1995, consisting of ex-Nation of Ulysses frontman Ian Svenonius on vocals, James Canty on guitar and organ, Steve Gamboa on drums, and Michelle Mae on bass guitar. The Make-Up were joined in late 1999 by a fifth member, Alex Minoff (of the groups Golden and Extra Golden), who played guitar with the group until the band’s dissolution in early 2000.
The Make-Up combined garage rock, soul, and a self-styled liberation theology to make a new genre they called “Gospel Yeh-Yeh”. This style led to an emphasis on live performances and interaction between the band and their audience, incorporating the audience into the performances as a “fifth member”, creating what one reviewer described as “”highly energetic and participatory live shows”. Parallel to the band’s gospel musical stylings, the Make-Up produced music under a communism-influenced political philosophy that they saw as counter to the capitalist form of modern rock and roll and pop music.
The Make-Up released four studio albums, two live albums, a compilation release collecting several singles and B-sides, and a number of vinyl singles, all released on independent record labels such as Dischord Records, K Records, and Southern Records. Svenonius, Mae, and Minoff are now part of the group Weird War. Svenonius has since released a solo album under the pseudonym David Candy. Canty went on to play with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and French Toast. The Make-Up reformed in 2012 to perform at All Tomorrow’s Parties (music festival).
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