Thu, 07 Aug 2014 18:00:12
Drenge conjure up the ghosts of grunge with a modern metallic blues bent. The UK duo deliver rock ‘n’ roll exactly how it should sound in this century in brilliant, badass form. They’re doing it the right way. Get hip to them now, because they’re on their way to becoming huge fast.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Eoin Loveless of Drenge talks the self-titled record and so much more.
What's your take on the album as a whole?
The record was recorded in three sessions that were about eleven or twelve months apart. We didn't really know we were making a record at that stage. The first four songs and the three after those were recorded under the pretense we'd put out an EP or two EPs. The final side of the record, the last four or five tracks, is the sound of us finishing the album. We were trying to wrap up what we started at that point.
What connects everything for you?
Whenever we worked on it, we worked on it in small, focused sessions. We had to get as much work done as we could, and we tried to track in the time we had. Working with Ross Orton as the producer for the entire record and not working with other producers was key to everything sounding the same even though probably eighteen months of time passed between the first track and the last track.
Were the sessions pretty urgent?
There's a song that didn't make on the record called "Necromancy's Dead". In many ways, I wish it did. It had about sixty live takes done on it. I think the urgency doesn't come from the ability to lay it down in one track. It's the frantic perfectionist quality that, at stages, we all have. We're trying to get the best take of the track, even if you're playing it sixty times. Anything passed take fifteen begins to suck, and you start getting frustrated.
Does it get better again around the fifty-eighth take?
It never gets better. Once you've gone passed take fifteen, it's done. We got to take thirty-two, and Ross came in and said, "There's this video game I'm playing at the moment, and I get beyond level 32. It's really hard. They just bring in all of these soldiers, and you can't beat it. It's an unbeatable level". I think he meant we just did another thirty takes that weren't much better.
How did "Let's Pretend" come together?
At that point, we realized we were writing a record. I was worried that we'd be putting out an album of just sub-three-minute fast rock songs. We had this piece of music we were interested in. We played it live for five months prior to recording it. It was about two minutes long. We were having a stressful time in the studio, making it fit in with the other things we'd done. We added the drum solo, and it stood out much stronger as a track without trying to make it sound like we'd done before.
What does it mean to you?
Part of it is just a really nice excuse to show off how good Rory is at playing drums. Anything based on drums or that kind of experimentation is sort of pushed to the back when it comes to music production. Luckily enough, we worked with Ross. His background in music is drums, and he's drummed for a lot of groups. He was really keen to give it a go. Thematically, it's not as aggressive as the other songs on the album. It's not as fast-paced. It's sort of about what happens after your aggression subsides. It's an exhausting track, and it's nice to have that variety on the album.
What about "Backwaters"?
That was one of our earliest tracks. It was one of the first two or three songs I wrote for the band. It's specific to the area we grew up in. It's absolutely stunning from the hills to the valley to the field. It's amazingly beautiful if you go there once a week you can still appreciate the beauty. When you're living in it and you're looking for things to do as an adolescent, it becomes a complete hellhole. At that point, everything that's beautiful about it is everything that's terrible about it. There's a rocky bus service we have to use to get to Sheffield where our gigs were and where we practice.
Is it important for you to tell stories in the songs?
That's where songs come from in a way. They're not just things people make to dance to. It's a great way to tell stories and put people in different worlds. I've always thought about lyrics very visually. The lyricists I respond most to are visual lyricists.
What artists shaped you?
Nirvana's Nevermind and The White Stripes' Elephant were really massive when we found them at 10-years-old. Even now, I can remember Rory's CD player having those records on all the time. There was other stuff like Wheatus's self-titled first album, Green Day's Dookie, and blink-182's Enema of the State. We loved listening to those pop punk bands when we were little. The guitar parts were really infectious.
If you were to compare the record to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
It'd be somewhere between French New Wave and Shane Meadows with some Anton Corbijn cinematography. That'd be it.
Have you heard Drenge yet?