Following up two critically acclaimed albums, as well as last year’s Autonomy EP, Drenge have bounced back into action with the news of their third album Strange Creatures, out 22nd February; and a string of UK tour dates across March and April.
Following the news, we talked to Drenge to discover what’s to come in both Strange Creatures and upcoming live shows.
Hey Guys, for readers not familiar with you would you care to introduce yourselves?
We are a rock band that’s been going since late 2010, starting off as a two piece and currently we’re a 4.5 piece I’d say.
It feels like after every quiet spell you come back with a new member. Where’d you find Rob (Graham) and Ed (Crisp).
Rob went to the same school as us, he was a few years older and he had an impeccable taste in music and we loved being around with him. It wasn’t until I was writing the second album and we were living together that I asked him to join the band as I thought he had that kind of rock attitude that we needed. We’d known Ed a couple of years from playing in Sheffield and around there and he was in a band called Best Friends and more recently he’s been doing things at the Delicious Clam’s place and is just a real hero of the D.I.Y Sheffield scene that’s going on.
If your latest EP release doesn’t get people excited for the record I don’t know what will. Electronic infused tracks like Never See the Signs show a real transition in style at times, is this something you’ve noticed consciously when writing songs?
The reason we didn’t stick with being a two-piece band and staying in that lane, which we really could have done, we were so happy with what we achieved with it that there was no point in going back and with the third next record we’ve put in these indie-gothic grungey tunes and we feel we’ve done that well too. We’re treating everything as its own individual project and now we’re moving through to the next chapter. We’ll really keep like that unless we hit something we need to keep tapping if it has a nice well of stuff in and keep sucking it dry.
The Saxophone really adds to Never See The Signs, have you had fun messing about with new instruments in the studio with Ross Orton who you’re working with now for the third time?
We had loads of fun. And for the first time we had considerable time to actually work on the sounds we were creating, with a guitar you can get good sounds really quite quickly, but when you start using synthesisers and all of that mumbo jumbo you need to work at it for a while and instead of coupling these sounds that sound good within 5 minutes you take 20 or 30 and you can get something even more accurate to what you really want and it makes the tracks a lot more interesting.
Also, I think when you establish a working relationship with anyone you’ve got connections, bonds and a way of working that don’t need reintroducing. Being in a band with your brother can lead to some quite fractured arguments and the way you are together is really indescribable, if someone’s been through that process with us before they can shrug it off like “Oh, they’re just having an argument” or “They’re just being a bit weird around each other”., you want to limit the amount of people you put through traumatic experiences.
It’s now been nearly a full 5 years since we saw you take the NME stage by storm at Leeds fest flashing your bare thighs. How do you think you’ve changed since then?
I think I’ve managed to chill out a bit more, still living on the job and trying to find my way as a frontman, songwriter and live performer. There’s something about our live sets that undeniably works, that I’m very proud of, but the moment that that starts to shake then I’ll definitely be worried, but otherwise I feel very comfortable still with our live sets.
Correct me if I’m wrong but coming from Castleton you’re in the middle of everything but the centre of nothing. How have your surrounding helped to shape your sound?
Well Castleton is really shorthand for the Hope Valley where we grew up spending most of our childhood and teenage years but then we moved to Sheffield. We go back to Castleton every now and then, I was back to visit the parents the other day. When I was a teenager I didn’t really have any emotional connection to the place, I thought it was really boring, it was a stress to do anything that I wanted to do, it really was the thing that made me want to start and band and get out of there. Now when I go back though I get incredibly emotional and more speechless by how stunning the countryside is and more inspired, it’s definitely more of a positive place to me now instead of the negative one it was when I was growing up. I love it out there now.
Will you be slipping many old tracks into the new set whilst out on tour?
I don’t know how many times we’ll to play some of these songs and I’d like to make sure we give them all a showing and the respect I think working on them for three years deserves but I’ll be picking out a couple of old ones that go down well for sure.
Which show are you most excited for?
I can’t think of one that stands out more than Manchester, which will be interesting I think. It’s on the day we come out of the European Union so it could be quite a feisty atmosphere. I remember playing in Glasgow the night after a helicopter crashed through the roof of a pub, it must’ve been around 5 years ago, and I just remember the mood in that city felt like people still wanted to go out and have a nice time and really be Glaswegians celebrating their identity. Brexit isn’t going to stop us from having a good time, going to gigs and being human beings in general so I think if it is what it is then it could be an emotional night.
What can we expect from you boys over the next year then?
I just want to see how the record settles in and people take to it. We’ve been working on it for such a long time and we’re all confident it’s the best stuff we’ve done so far. I really like it when our music becomes everyone’s to enjoy and listen to and applying their own opinions and stories to so I’m really looking forward to see how that connection with our fans comes along. I’m proud of the vibe we’ve managed to create with these short spooky stories, they definitely work together but very well separately like mini gothic novels all packed into one record.