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

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It’s been just over six years since folk punk collective Driven Serious released their last EP, and they return this month with their new album, Look On These Works.

The album’s title derives from Percy Shelly’s Ozymandias, a poem about ego and hubris, with the semantics of this seeping into the project, as singer and guitarist Rob Jones explains. “These are universal themes here, messages arriving through this channel towards our realm of dualism – cause and effect. Ozymandias was a message about ego, showing us that ego is a good servant and a terrible master. Ultimately, we must make a choice between fear and love in every moment.”

The poem focuses on change too, with Ozymandias’ pride being eroded away with time; vocalist and writer Sinéad Livingston expanded upon this aspect and how it relates to the album:One of my songs is based on things never staying the same, even if you want them to. Situations change. People change. Some things are just totally out of your control but sometimes you can rebuild, and there’s always hope.”

Look On These Works is an incredibly engaging listen, whether it’s the monumental sounding strings that carry us through this adventure, or the war-like drums at the start of the title track, it’s an impressive experience.

Fear is not a terrible thing. It’s valid. It’s real and it comes from a place of yearning. Radical empathy is what’s needed. Maybe that comes across in our songs

Describing it as an “epic adventure”, some influence was derived from Shakespeare, Jones added: “Shakespeare wrote, ‘The space in these words will dance the devil away’. If we hold our ground with humility, and love for our shadow, the conflict will dissipate. It’s kind of a paradox – we stand up to fear by accepting it and recognising from innocence. It’s about the dance of the wondrous creation that we find. Fear is not a terrible thing. It’s valid. It’s real and it comes from a place of yearning. If we push against it, it brings about more fear and therefore more suffering. Radical empathy is what’s needed. Maybe that comes across in our songs.”

Jones expands further on the band’s themes. “The song A Million Light Years is about it seeming that we are light years apart at times, but for eternity, we have always been and always will be interconnected and with every moment we are on the precipice of a destiny where we can free ourselves from the illusion of divide.”

Jones’ favourite composition is the folk-inspired, sweeping melodies and vocals of Raven’s Call.

We really did want the song to sound epic and huge, to give the effect of the fall and rise of empires, reminding us that as ever we are in a cyclical flux right now.”

It’s a track that leans into more fantastical elements within the music. I asked if fantasy was ever an inspiration, given song titles like Dragons: “I like the Romantic poets. Romantic poetry has been about the magic that is around us in nature and the universe. Fantasy can be interchangeable with Romantic. Much of fantasy derives from ancient and more recent mythology. The mythological Raven, due to an actual Raven’s nature, independently across different cultures has grown to symbolise traversing light and dark, transcending dualism and unifying. A dragon can be a metaphor for your own inner demons, perhaps.”   

Driven Serious launch Look On These Works on Saturday 19th November at The Globe, Newcastle.


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