If they aren’t already, Sheffield-based Drenge are a band that should be on your radar. The trio from Castleton, Derbyshire, have been gaining a significant amount of traction over the past 3 years since the release of their self-titled debut: a raw, grunge filled masterpiece Cobain himself would be proud of. They’re now heading out on tour again, as part of the NME awards tour alongside Bloc Party, RAT BOY and MC Bugzy Malone, and in support of their second record ‘Undertow’, a more polished, but still savage sophomore statement. Ahead of the tour, which starts in Cardiff this Friday, the 29th of January, I had the opportunity to speak with vocalist/guitarist Eoin Loveless about changes to Drenge’s music going forward.
The addition of bassist Rob Graham, a long time friend and figure in their career, has allowed the Drenge sound to progress from a monstrous duo to a mammoth trio. This is something Eoin felt necessary: “It’s not really a band if there’s only two people in it…if there’s one person playing on a stage, then it’s just them playing music, if there’s two people playing music then it’s just two people playing with each other. But if there’s three, you need to start lending your hearing around the room a bit more. That’s where I think the traits of a band, like listening and being aware of what’s going on around you musically, that’s when those skills tend to get tested”.
‘Undertow’ is a cleaner effort, for lack of a better word. While their self-titled debut saw a new dawning for grunge/punk, 2015’s ‘Undertow’ built upon this, seeing the sound become more monstrous and, at times, sinister. In terms of contextualising the second record, Eoin came up with a rather pleasing metaphor. “Think of the first record like a car, and then the second record like a polished car…the next car/album will have…hydraulics…” Though there are currently no plans for the follow-up to ‘Undertow’ as of yet, they’re definitely on the horizon.
Lyrically, Drenge have always had a certain appeal with the way they convey their message, utilising both religious and carnal symbols in their writing. Though in terms of self-appreciation towards his skill, this is where Eoin struggles. “I kind of lose a relationship with [the lyrics] through over-performing … like the lyrics for ‘Nothing’ (from ‘Drenge’), I don’t think are particularly good, but when we play it live I’ve discovered that the way that they’ve been written, the syllables and the harshness of the sound all sits together and now whenever we play it live, I kind of scat it, so I’ll take syllables and hold them back and drop them in the space where they’re supposed to go next.”
For the past 3 years Drenge have been a constant presence on the Glastonbury lineup. 2015 saw them appear as a secret act on the Williams Green stage on the first day of the festival. When I ask him about the possibility of playing this year’s event, Eoin considers this. “If we did it this year, it would be 4 [times already], we’re probably not allowed! I think there’s some rule that unless you’re Billy Bragg…I think Mumford and Sons did it 7 years on the trot, and you know you don’t want to end up like that, do you?”
Last year’s festival was a unique opportunity to witness someone who is undoubtedly one of the current generation’s musical focal points, Kanye West, someone the band had met previously after their appearance on ‘…Later With Jools Holland’. “I’m a huge Kanye fan”, admits Eoin. “I listen to like his new tracks three times a day. I think he’s exceptional and vastly underappreciated…we’ve got a great artist on the planet and a lot people aren’t willing to take him seriously.” On the Kanye set itself, “That’s one of the main reasons we chose to do the show”, Eoin confesses, laughing. “I went and thought it was amazing, but people really weren’t into it…I think one of the delusions people had if they were at the festival was that Kanye was performing to them, but he wasn’t. He was performing to the world’s media.”
Those who have been following Drenge from the beginning may remember at their earlier shows in 2013, they would distribute a self-made zine titled ‘Blood & Milk’, the initial title for the self-titled album cut ‘Backwaters’. Though there are no plans to resurrect this perfect piece of audience engagement, they have are plenty of other ideas that they’d like to put into action. “I’ve been thinking about…doing a podcast, where I could go around and talk to other bands about stuff … If I can find an interview where one of my favourite artists is being interviewed by another musician, then you get a level of reference points that I can relate to as a musician. I can also relate to the fact that because they’re not guarded, because it’s not an interview scenario, and they’re not worried there words will be taken out of context. I think there’s a lot that me and Rory (brother and bandmate) want to do that exits out of the music that we make.”
Many thanks to Ian for arranging this interview for us. ‘Undertow’, Drenge’s second album, is out now via Infectious Records; for more on the Sheffield group on TGTF, head here. Catch them on the NME Awards Tour starting this Friday through mid-February.
London producer and electronic musician William Phillips, better known as Tourist, has just unveiled the first single from his upcoming debut album ‘U’, along with a short list of live dates in the UK and Ireland for this spring. You can hear Tourist’s new track ‘To Have You Back’ for yourself just below the tour date listing. If you like what you hear, you can visit his Soundcloud to download the song for free.
Tickets for the following shows are available now. Leading into the summer festival season, Tourist has also announced a June appearance at London’s Field Day 2016. TGTF’s previous coverage of Tourist can be found by clicking right here.
Saturday 7th May 2016 – Dublin Academy Green Room
Monday 9th May 2016 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Tuesday 10th May 2016 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Wednesday 11th May 2016 – London XOYO
Thursday 12th May 2016 – Brighton Haunt
The ink is barely dry on their newly-signed contract with Polydor Records, but Brighton indie pop band Fickle Friends have just announced a lengthy list of UK tour dates for February and March. The tour will include a headline show at the Sheffield Leadmill on the 26th of February and a Leap Day gig at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus, before ending with a hometown date on the 12th of March.
Support for select dates will be played by Liverpool rock quartet Clean Cut Kid. Following these live dates, both bands are scheduled to head across the pond to Austin for SXSW 2016. Stay tuned for our upcoming Bands to Watch feature, which will cover Fickle Friends and Clean Cut Kid in more detail.
Tuesday 2nd February 2016 – Guildford Boileroom
Wednesday 3rd February 2016 – Cardiff Moon Club
Thursday 4th February 2016 – Bournemouth 60 MP
Saturday 6th February – Bedford Esquires
Sunday 7th February 2016 – Leicester Scholar *
Monday 8th February 2016 – Bristol Louisiana *
Tuesday 9th February 2016 – Chester Live Rooms *
Thursday 11th February 2016 – Stourbridge River Room
Tuesday 16th February 2016 – Liverpool Studio 2
Wednesday 17th February 2016 – Reading Oakford Social *
Friday 19th February 2016 – Southampton Joiners *
Saturday 20th February 2016 – Totnes Devon Arts Centre *
Sunday 21st February 2016 – Colchester Arts Centre *
Tuesday 23rd February 2016 – Norwich Waterfront *
Wednesday 24th February 2016 – Nottingham Bodega *
Thursday 25th February 2016 – Manchester Sound Control *
Friday 26th February 2016 – Sheffield Leadmill *
Sunday 28th February 2016 – Newcastle Think Tank *
Monday 29th February 2016 – Edinburgh Electric Circus *
Tuesday 1st March 2016 – Aberdeen Tunnels
Thursday 3rd March 2016 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Friday 4th March 2016 – Stockton Kubar
Saturday 5th March 2016 – Lincoln Engine Shed
Monday 7th March 2016 – Hull Fruit *
Tuesday 8th March 2016 – Leeds Oporto *
Wednesday 9th March 2016 – Birmingham Rainbow
Friday 11th March 2016 – Aldershot Arts Centre
Saturday 12th March 2016 – Brighton Patterns *
*with support from Clean Cut Kid
By Mary Chang
on Sunday, 24th January 2016 at 6:00 pm
A few days ago, our Carrie wrote Little Green Cars‘ latest single ‘The Song They Play Every Night’. The single now has its own promo video.
In it, a full moon like the one that’s out tonight looks down upon lead singer Stevie Appleby in his bedroom, and then later on the entire indie quintet from Dublin for an oddly dark, eerie visual feeling. ‘Ephemera’, the band’s second LP and follow-up to 2013’s ‘Absolute Zero’, will be released on the 9th of March on Glassnote Records It’s purported to be “a transitional album” by Appleby, and this single seems to suggest maturing-type growing pains. Watch the video below. The band is scheduled to showcase the week after the new album’s release in Austin for a second time at SXSW 2016. Past coverage of Little Green Cars on TGTF is this way.
By Mary Chang
on Sunday, 24th January 2016 at 10:00 am
Aussies Boy & Bear will be releasing a new single this coming Friday, the 29th of January. ‘Limit of Love’ (whose title conjures up and should not be confused with the very closely named James Blake single) is the title track of their #1 Australian album released last year. (Its UK release was on the 30th of October on Nettwerk Records; you can read Steven’s review of other album single ‘Walk the Wire’ here.) In the promo video, we’re treated to rather increasingly surreal scenes in what first looks like a male ballet dancer cutting a rug in an abandoned hospital, but what we’re looking at quickly changes. It’s a very cool video and I’m surprised no-one has thought of it before.
This new single release in the UK is just ahead of the band from Oz’s live dates in Britain and Ireland in February. Stay tuned for more on Boy & Bear in the coming months.
By Mary Chang
on Saturday, 23rd January 2016 at 6:00 pm
While TGTF Towers in Washington, DC, gets buried in a historic blizzard, it’s important to keep spirits and heart rate up. Good thing, then, that New Order have chosen this afternoon to release their latest video, for single ‘Tutti Frutti’. Not to be confused with the Little Richard classic, it’s a grower of a track: I hated it when I first heard it, but you can’t deny the glittering synths and Bernard Sumner’s sufficiently emotional (for him) but largely detached lyrics, while the driving rhythm thumps on. The promo video is a great extension of the single, with its message clear: age is just a number, folks. Is the main character supposed to be a nod to Tony Wilson? Maybe…
Their most recent album, 2015’s ‘Music Complete’, which was the band’s first new album in 10 years (though still without Peter Hook), was released last October. You can read our review of the LP here. Past coverage of New Order on TGTF is right this way.