It’s yet another summer in Brooklyn! While we brace ourselves for the unbearable heat that comes along with the season, we can at least be excited for all the fun events this beautiful borough has to offer us – one of them being Northside Festival. I got to sit down with one of the festival’s musical acts, hailing from Sheffield, Drenge. The brothers Rory and Eoin Loveless, and their bassist Rob Graham spoke to me about brotherly love, touring and the process behind making their hit record ‘Undertow’.
AM: So, this is your third time touring the U.S.? What’s different about this tour in comparison to the others?
EL: We’ve been a lot luckier.
AM: Luckier? In what sense?
EL: Just no problems so far. But if there have been any problems, they’ve been solved!
AM: On stage problems? Off stage problems?
EL: All sorts of problems!
RL: Yeah, last night Eoin actually left his bag, with his laptop and his money, in the back of a cab. So, when we realized we didn’t know how to contact the taxi. But, when we got back to the apartment the next day, he was there waiting with the bag! He dropped us off there last night. Is that, like, a common thing to happen?
EL: Are all taxi drivers in New York that nice?
AM: I really wish I could say yes.
RL: Yeah, so we definitely lucked out with that one then.
AM: So, what goes in to your songwriting process? What do you find each of you bring to the table individually?
EL: Well, I come up with some very basic ideas, and then I take them to Rory. He’s kind of an auditor, and he’ll decide whether we’re going to move forward with it. We just sit down and structure it, and kind of fit it around the sort of song we want to write that particular day.
RL: Yeah, I guess that’s it. I mean, I kind of tell Eoin what I think is good, and surprisingly a lot of the time, what I say kind of goes. But then there’s times when I try to make a totally daft idea that don’t really work and he’ll come in and we’ll try and make a song out of it and go from there.
AM: Do you find yourself writing new music on the road at all?
EL: We come up with ideas, but I find it’s better when we have the time to sit down and have time to treat each song, as it’s own thing.
AM: How long did it take for you guys to make ‘Undertow’?
RL: About four months? Right? Something like that. It was kind of like, getting out of bed in the morning – finishing it. We couldn’t just finish it; we’d just flip the pillow around and move about a bit.
EL: It was like having a big piece of marble, and just chipping at it so that you could create the most perfect sculpture. But we were finding that if we chipped away at it any more, that we’d ruin it.
AM: You’re brothers, and not too far apart in age. What is it like working side by side?
EL: I see our age, and the fact that we’re brothers doing this as a strength, really. We’re so close in age, we used to listen to the same music growing up, and we had the same friends. I think if the age difference were any greater, it’d be hard to relate. Everyone I know just hates their siblings … I mean they love them, but they don’t always get along. You get the young annoying sibling -- which would be me -- but I’m actually the young great sibling. Then, you’d get the kind of condescending older sibling – which would be Rory – but he’s actually a great condescending older sibling.
AM: So you guys build each other up then.
RL: Yeah, and apparently even try to wind each other up in interviews!
AM: You guys seem to have an incredible bond, as brothers and as musicians, both on and off stage. How did Drenge come to be? What was your childhood like together, musically?
EL: It started with a couple of piano lessons and then Rory kind of started with the sticks, and played in a lot of school bands cause there weren’t many drummers, so he’d get a lot of gigs. I was one of the best bedroom guitarists. I would would just print songs of the internet and play them in my room. When I was 18, we just decided to start a band. I had a bit of time off, cause I wasn’t going to uni for another year. It just seemed like it was the time to make some music together.
AM: Now, I read that you guys had taken dance lessons as children. Tell me about that.
EL: Not true, haha. One week at school, they brought in these really cool guys that were like S Club 7 – they taught us urban dancing for the week. Do you remember that?
RL: I definitely have had dance lessons. I mean, I can MOVE. Definitely. I mean, that didn’t come out of thin air. That took work!
AM: What style of dance?
RL: It’s an unclassifiable style. It’s its own thing.
AM: So interpretive dance then?
RL: Yeah, haha.
AM: What were some of your musical influences growing up? What music do you find yourselves gravitating towards nowadays?
EL: Rob was actually in a really great band growing up called ‘No Logic’. Made me want to start playing guitar.
RL: Oooooh, that was below the belt.
EL: They were amazing! They were fu*king great!
RL: Rob, you were like the Gene Simmons of Hope Valley College!
RG: I’m really collecting the fu*king compliments, aren’t I? Well, we were the first of our school’s generation to commit our work to recording, so we like cornered the market from there off. No one else was putting out records at 14 in school. Our school had quite a lot of bands going at one point – had it’s own music scene. It was really just a lot Red Hot Chili Pepper’s covers.
EL: Yeah, there were a lot of bands. Rory was in a great band that was called ‘Sweet Torkidi’. Another one called ‘The Who Dunnits?’
RL: We played an assembly under a band name called ‘The Swedish Leprechauns’ … that was complete shite.
AM: Seems like you guys were just picking names out of a hat.
EL: A really small hat.
AM: What is the rest of this summer looking like for Drenge?
EL: Well, we’re headed back over to England in a week or so to support Blur at Hyde Park.
RL: Yeah, but we’ll be back in the states later this year with Wolf Alice.
Make sure to pick up a copy of Drenge's LP 'Undertow' and check them out this fall on tour with Wolf Alice!
Big thank you's to Carina Contreras and Geoff Barradale.