Drenge | Interview

drenge_mag

We wanted to make the video really glamorous… but what we got was a load of people who were really drunk after an England football match.

What a mad year 2013 was for Drenge. Glastonbury, Jools Holland, touring with Peace and gaining widespread acclaim for their self-titled debut album. Our Rhys Buchanan caught up with Rory, one of the two Loveless brothers that make up this mighty two-piece.

So 2013, did such a big reaction catch you by surprise?

Yes it did actually. There were some things that gradually built up and you never knew where they were gonna go. Then others just fell out of the blue, like when we found out we were playing Glastonbury. We were just shocked and amazed. So yes, it’s been a year full of surprises and hopefully 2014 will be the same.

You’ve both always been quick to shun hype, is it difficult to contemplate people’s level of excitement?

I feel like we kind of just do our own thing. I’m not really involved in that sort of world and I don’t consider it a lot. There are things people say that are hugely complimentary and just giving a reaction back – it’s great to have your music acknowledged and responded to. But when people big you up and say “they’re the first band you can slam your door to” [The Guardian], I think I’d rather people went out and listened to our music for themselves than have someone translate it for them.

And this month you’re heading out on the road?

Yeah, well we haven’t played a couple of places that we’ve always wanted to go to. The Georgian Theatre in Stockton will be good, and coming back to Bristol will be really nice as well. It’s just a great way to start the year really.

The album was a really big step for you guys, are we likely to hear any new material this side of festival season?

Yes I think so, we’ve just been in the studio actually and have done a couple of tracks which sound really good. We’re really proud of them. So hopefully a couple of those will be out before festival season. We haven’t thought about whether we want to do an EP or another album, or just another couple of singles. You get some bands that say ‘right we’re gonna record an EP and have a theme running through it’, that’s what happened with our album really – we ended up coming up with a load of common themes along the way.

A lot of the emotions on the album were born out of your isolation, has spending less time at home come across in your new material?

Yes it definitely has. We’ve spent a pretty minimal amount of time at home really, in that isolated corner. Each time we come back we start to appreciate it a bit more because you can just go out and just be on your own for a bit, which we’ve really started to like, but before it was a bit of a noose to be honest. I think where we’re writing new songs that are quite different to the first ones there’s been a definite change in dynamic.

I’d like to mention your music videos, they’re really outside of the box, do you have much input?

Yes, we’ve been working with this guy called Stephen Agnew, and he’s great. We’ll have a discussion about what we want from the video and how it should go with the song. We have as much influence as we want but we trust Steve to come up with his own ideas. It’s good to have someone who thinks outside the box as well, an outside perspective on the music. He’ll add little quirky things that we think, yeah that works.

The one for ‘Dogmeat’ is my favourite…

That was actually self-made! We just borrowed a camera and went out onto the streets and filmed it. We wanted to make the video really glamorous and have a lot of people dancing and then chuck glitter on them, but what we got was a load of people who were really drunk after an England football match. There were a lot of quite shy people and drunk students. So we just cobbed all that together. But yeah, we’re really proud of that video. A lot of funny and weird things happened that night.

We’ve seen you in Bristol a few times now, do you have a stand-out gig so far?

We supported a band called O Children at Start The Bus, there were about four bands on and we were on second. I couldn’t really hear anything clearly so I don’t know how it sounded, but I thought it was one of the best gigs we’ve ever played. It was like when you look back on Top Of The Pops and people are just dancing to Slade. It was like that, nobody was pushing each other around, everyone was dancing, which we’d never seen before at our gigs. We also opened for Deap Vally aboard Thekla – that was the first time we encountered Big Jeff.

In a live setting, Drenge are just about as raw as it gets, will anything change with the upcoming headline tour?

Yes, we’re headlining bigger venues than we ever have done, like The Fleece in Bristol is pretty huge isn’t it? I guess we do have to step up a level, I’m not really sure how to do that. Some people have been talking about getting lighting guys in and other technical things. In future I’d like to bring in extra musical dynamic like an organ or something. Eoin is less keen for that I think though!

Rory and Eoin play The Fleece on 27th February – watch ‘Dogmeat’ here:

And read the full print issue with this interview here: