artist: The Drones
website: click here
Jonathan Dekel Interviews Gareth Liddiard, Guitari
12 Sep 03 | Jon Dekel | Incendiary Magazine
Q: What do you get when you mix Hank Williams, Towes Vanzsant, Black Flag, Dirty Three, and Stravinsky?
A: The Drones.
Don't be confused by the name. They are Australiaís garage-blues rockers and their sole mission, it seems, is to ruin themselves and to take you down with them. On record, their sound is a dash of sweat and fear, mixed with revenge and greed to produce an albums worth of raw intensity and unabashed pain, that one would find it hard to listen the whole way through, at least without getting mad and yelling out the lyrics to strangers in the street (or maybe that's just me).
The band themselves are no strangers to being down and out. In 2001, they left their native Perth because the music scene was too small and dying, for the (supposed) greener pastures of Sydney with a dream, a van, and two dogs. Instead they were left sleeping in their van on a mattress that someone had thrown out, so they decided to reconvene and move to Melbourne.
There things seemed to come together. John Peel took notice and started playing their records, and the local press had a field day. Now they've just released Here Comes the Lies and want to show you that Australians still know how to rock without sounding like Nirvana (sorry Craig and the other Vines). Ladies and gentleman, the Drones!
Why the name The Drones? It seems to be the opposite of your style.
The best laid plans always go to shit, I suppose. I can't remember... that was a while ago now. There are two other 'The Drones' in the world you know? Now that would make a great legal battle!
Why do you think that your style of blues-based rock has suddenly become so popular over the last few years?
This is what I think... virgins don't have babies and kids don't set rock n roll trends. Messy blues based rock has been around for forever, man... no news there. But 16-year olds don't know that cause they don't know fuck all, god bless 'em. Record companies know that kids are looking for thrills and new experiences, and rock n roll is one of them... one of many things they don't know fuck all about. The companies saw that there was a growing number of people getting into the blues-based stuff (its called market research) and took over from there. They just seduce the youth with this construct of dangerous, new rebel music and sell it to 'em until they get hip and start thinking for themselves. That's okay because 999,999,999 other kids turned 16 today. If the record companies and media started saying tennis was the new rock, I shit you not, tennis ball sales would be going through the roof. Itís no joke!
Our style of blues-based rock, meaning the Drones, is going nowhere fast. As far as the mainstream goes we have been totally shut out. I don't care either. We get emails from people who work for major labels asking when we're coming to their town to play so they can come and check us out because THEY like us, not because they want to size us up for a record deal. They don't have to pretend, so itís fine with us. They see the show, then come Monday theyíre back at the office exploiting the kids, and their quite conscious of that. Selling the sizzle and not the sausage!
We've been offered gigs on TV. We've had the hour and the day booked in, ready to go, then got the call from the producer who only just listened to our record (???), and itís the big "no thanks!Ē Itís not uncommon for that kind of stuff to happen to us, and we really don't care. I fucking hate all of that new rock shit anyway. Itís totally false.
What is it about Perth that you reflect in your music?
Perth is out in the middle of nowhere. Itís the most isolated city in the world. You could say its an environmental thing... Youíre surrounded by a desert as big as the Sahara and itís a real harsh place just a few hours outside of town. You can feel that. The people in Western Australia are different from the rest of Australia. The city folk can be a little vapid, superficial and conservative, and the country folk can be so backwards. There's no in between, no kind of middle left-wingers, if you get my drift: A lot of racism and an ugly history.
Itís a town and a state pretending its shit is okay, but underneath there's a lot of bad blood. That's where I grew up. I was born in the nowhere town of Port Hedland. Itís like what Hemmingway said about dreams being just 90% terrain. You can't underestimate the effect that your surroundings have on you - the physical surroundings more so than social, and that's the Perth/Western Australia factor. That's the main reason for the harsh sound and the horizon length songs.
Why did you choose to sign to Spooky records?
No-one else wanted us!
How would you describe yourselves as a live band?
Listen to our record (Here Come the Lies). Itís in shops I hope. We're like that, cause that was recorded live in the studio, but that was ages ago. I'm hoping we've improved.
You guys are heading over to our shores soon, have any of you ever been to The Netherlands? If not, how do you expect it to be?
We were there earlier this year. We did two shows which were ok. The venues and the people were really, really cool but we were a bit worn out, me thinks. We won't be this time though. Our drummer chris is Dutch. He is a Strybosch - know any of them? Theyíre very odd.
How do you think the European audiences will respond to you guys?
I don't know... I'm interested in what the Germans will think. We generally get good reviews but not so with Germany. The reactions we've had have been pretty funny - this is the press I'm talking about, not the people. They seem fairly uptight. I think they were all goths or something, and its no secret that goths are a bit sensitive, poor darlings. I think they were expecting Bauhaus or something. We have that problem of being a lot of different things at once and some people have trouble dealing with that. Who cares? Itís only music. There are more important things to think about. I'm not expecting the rest of Europe to be too different from anywhere else, although the reaction in the Netherlands was cool. I hear the Dutch have invented a new drink! The Drones are looking forward to downing a few pints of puree goldfish next time we're in Amsterdam!
So that's it, for now. The Drones (lawsuit or not) will be comin' faster than you can say ďg'dawnyaĒ, so don't miss them when they come around. You may just end up eating puree goldfish! What other band can promise you that?