Interview: Drenge – LA Music Blog
“Can I have a minute of your time? I’d like to waste it. I wanna meet you in the middle of the night. I want you to hate it.”
There’s nothing pretty or polished about Drenge’s debut LP. It’s gritty, it’s reckless, it’s full of angst, and it’s damn-near-perfect in its own right.
To start, these brothers make a hell of a lot of noise for just a duo in an age of 12-member bands featuring keys, synth, bass, drum machines, laptops… Drenge strips it all back to nothing more than an electric guitar and drums, and the raw instrumentals leave little to be desired. The brothers fill the stage with stunning string solos and percussion, sometimes abandoning lyrics for minutes on end to just play. This is exactly what we (music fans, the music industry, and the genre of rock and roll as a whole) need.
The song titles on their self-titled debut album say it all: “People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck,” “Fuckabout,” and the pinnacle of warmth that is “I Want To Break You In Half.” You’re not necessarily invited into the album, but despite their aggressive lyrics, the brothers Loveless were kind enough to sit down with me before their show at The Bootleg to talk about how it all got started and more.
How did you guys get started in music? Was it something you sought to learn or did your parents guide that decision?
Rory: Our parents basically forced us into piano lessons, which we really didn’t like. I think they did some other stuff before that as well, like send us to rhythm and dance classes when we were like 2 years old or something ridiculous. We never really got on with the piano, so we moved on to different instruments and carried on from there.
And you just fell in love with drums and you (Eoin) with guitar?
Rory: Pretty much, yeah.
Eoin: Well, I kind of bullied him into drums.
When did you guys decide you were going to move forward as a band?
Eoin: It was about four years ago. All of our friends just left us, and we were left at home without much to do; playing music seemed like the best way to waste some time.
And the album? How did that come together?
Rory: We didn’t really know we were writing an album. We just had a load of songs that we would play, and we recorded about four of them, waited a whole year, went back to school, recorded another four, got a record contract, and finished the album off then. So we got like two sessions, and I did a third. It took about one and half years.
How do you approach your songwriting? Is it something you start with lyrically or instrumentally?
Eoin: Definitely, definitely the tune first, then the vocal melody, and then the lyrics on top of that.
So the sound has to come first.
Eoin: Yeah because otherwise we don’t really know what the song is going to be about. It’s a bit like making a soundtrack for a film before you shoot it…that sounds really lame.
Eoin: [Laughs] After 18 months of interviews, I can still chuck a cheesy line in there.
Rory: A line that doesn’t make any sense.
And how do you approach your music videos? Do you give up complete control to a director or do you prefer to be more hands-on?
Eoin: When we started out, we had to have complete control over that sort of thing. The earliest videos we did on our phones and some really awful editing software. When the band started taking off, we had the need for a video to be out there, so we got a guy named Steve Agnew to come help us. We talked through all the videos with him and kind of chucked out all the bad ideas. We didn’t really have anything positive, we just said, “No, we don’t like that idea, we don’t like that, or that,” and that’s what the latest music videos have been.
So you’re pretty open to a director having control over the visual portrayal of your music?
Rory: Yeah, I think we just trusted Steve a lot with those videos. We liked his approach, so we were happy to let him do his own thing.
Eoin: After a while, if you start thinking about them, it’s like a promotion, and then the reason there’s a video and the reason they’re being released is kind of stripped of all romanticism. The video just becomes this kind of tool…
Rory: But it’s also nice to get a fresh approach from someone like Steve, too.
Do you trust him to do the rest of your videos or do you see yourselves branching out in the future?
Rory: I don’t know. I’d like to branch out a bit maybe.
Eoin: It’s important that we work with different people. It’s important that we also claim back a bit of responsibility on that end of things…right?
Rory: [Laughs] Yeah.
Eoin: Band meeting right now.
I know your album just came out here in the US, but it’s been out for a while in the UK already, right?
Eoin: Yeah, it’s been out for eleven months.
Rory: Yeah, just about that.
Are you already starting to write new music or do you believe in letting your debut ride out?
Eoin: Yeah, we’re actually recording all of September. Writing’s not really the right word; it’s more like doodling or practicing handwriting.
When it comes to your live performance, do you have anything you particularly like to play?
Rory: Usually some of the newer songs because they’re more fresh in our minds, but it depends on the night.
Eoin: In the UK, usually if we play “Bloodsports” the crowd will really kick off, whereas over here, I don’t know, I guess “Fuckabout” has had more promo around it here, so more people recognize it and there’s a stronger connection when we play that. But for us, newer songs are the strongest because that’s what we’re bragging about now.
Do you guys like to have a lot of crowd interaction or are you just in your own world when you’re playing?
Eoin: Oh no…what’s the right way to say this? We’re not the most socially confident people and especially so on stage. I’m not in a band to be a rockstar or get attention; we’re just soundtracking people’s evenings, and they just decide to look at us if we’re there, or mosh pit, or whatever they want to do, but there’s very little in the way of showmanship.
This is your second time touring through LA. Are you guys feeling like your audiences are growing and you’re becoming more recognized?
Eoin: It’s kind of funny, this tour, because we’ve been playing places we’ve never played before, like Philadelphia and Minneapolis, and some of the places where you feel like it’s going to be really good and happening and loads of people will turn up, those places can surprise you. There were like 4 people in Philadelphia, and then we played Minneapolis and there were like 30 people there, but the reception was so intense. Where did we play last night?
Rory: San Francisco.
Eoin: Right, there were less people there than when we played last time, but there was definitely a vibe in that room.
I was recommended to check you out by Deap Vally, who you opened up for in the UK. Do you prefer headlining or opening up for bigger bands?
Eoin: We’ve really only done two or three support tours. We supported Temples in Chicago, and we did a very short tour with Deap Vally in 2013. It just depends on how much you like that band you’re opening for. We’ve supported bands whose music we don’t really like, but it made sense at the time because the people going to those shows would be into our band, and it would be a good evening. I like playing headline shows because the people are there to see you, but there’s that nice experience when you’re playing to people that don’t know who you are and have come to see something else, and they’ll take you away…or they’ll just bitch about you to their friends the next day.
Original article at LA Music Blog.