INTERVIEW: Drenge | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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A week after the release of their sophomore album, Undertow, sibling duo Drenge bring a dishevelled, riotous edge to Sage Gateshead on Monday 13th April.

Brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless (joined in their live shows by bassist Rob Graham) are probably tired of rolling their eyes each time that their unlikely name check and accolade from ex-MP Tom Watson is mentioned (in 2012, during his resignation, Watson signed off his speech by stating “if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge”). Drenge, as an outfit, are far more concerned with honing their riotous live shows and peddling their own brand of noise-rock than comments from resigning MOR politicians. However, Mr Watson got it right when he likened Eoin’s guitar skills to the ferocity of a “mid-west cyclone”, and now this storm is headed to the North East to shake the pristine façade of the Sage.

The most expected route for the duo to take through the North East would perhaps have been via the sticky, stale beer coated floors of the O2 Academy, a willing friend to the alternative live music scene. However, after playing the somewhat unexpected host to artists such as The Cribs, Royal Blood and The Fall the recent BB6 Music Festival, this new wave of slightly rough around the edges guests suggests that the duo will feel right at home in Hall Two.

Ahead of their trip to the region, I talked to Eoin about their sound, being in a band of brothers and growing up in a small, nowhere town.

Your sound is definitely quite raw in comparison to the roster of acts that the Sage usually houses – do you think that your live show will adapt in any way to this new kind of setting, whether intentionally or unintentionally?

There’ll probably be a moment of quiet contemplation before we go out to play. It’s a venue I never thought we’d ever have the chance of playing and I’m incredibly grateful that we have that opportunity. I guess at the back of my brain I’ll be making conscious efforts not to screw up, as if it’s a recital or something.

As someone who also grew up in a small, ‘nowhere’ town (but without any of lush views associated with the Peak District), I can totally relate to the influence that the sense of suffocation bought on by this seems to have had on you guys.  Do you think that the feeling of growing up in a small town is something that will constantly impact on your music, or have you exorcised most of these demons?

I think it will have its impact for some time. I feel incredibly removed from situations relating to growing up in cities and towns. There’s not much in the way of current popular culture that addresses what it’s like to grow up in the middle of nowhere. I hope our music makes up for that in some small way.

As well as your upbringing, and the limiting surroundings that you grew up in, what or who else has been a major influence to you?  

I’m really keen on film, so I always try and frame what we do through cinema, soundtracks, visuals and stuff. Undertow is like a getaway movie in the vein of Pierrot Le Fou; right at the end I paint my face blue and wrap dynamite around my head.

Do you have any musical influences that are totally unexpected? 

Today’s music listeners seem really open-minded and I think that’s a great thing. I don’t know what’s considered unexpected any more. I really like Arvo Part and have made an effort to listen to country music a bit more, but essentially I’m still a mosher at heart who listens to Cloud Nothings, The Cribs and Eagulls.

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“There’s not much in the way of current popular culture that addresses what it’s like to grow up in the middle of nowhere. I hope our music makes up for that in some small way”

Do you share a lot of the same interests in this respect, or are your tastes pretty diverse?

Rory has a much more eclectic taste in music than I do. He’s very well versed in genres, sub genres and is really opinionated on stuff so I really enjoy learning about what he’s been listening to.

As brothers, people must often assume that there’s some level of sibling rivalry between you both.  Does Drenge work because you both just ‘get’ each other, for want of a better term?

I suppose so. There’s not much in the way of arguing, but we both hold strong opinions about what we do and how we do it. On a creative level, we both want to make the best possible stuff that we can with no compromises; to make that work we often have really lengthy conversations about why that shouldn’t go there or if the chorus really needs to be that long.

You once said that, if you decided to diverge away from your two-piece set up, you wouldn’t want people to think that you were betraying who you are.  Have you encountered any such opinions since Rob Graham joined the mix?

Yeah, totally; people take to two piece bands as if they are a religion. If you do anything to disrupt that, then they can get very upset. It’s better to put an end to that now, rather than letting it trap us when we’re a couple of albums in and then we want to work with different instruments. Rob on bass adds something really heavy to our live sets. We’re almost a metal band now. We never meant for our band to always be two people.

Integrity (on both a personal and professional level) is an extremely important and endearing trait to have – is this something that it is essential for you to keep?

Yes. There’s no giddy eyed chase to become hugely popular. We try not to compromise on anything, mainly because we don’t want to feel uncomfortable, but we also don’t want to fuck with anyone who’s come to a show or bought a record.

Drenge and play Sage Gateshead on Monday 13th April.

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