Interview: The Drones x Melbourne

I like my guitar solo if you can call it that.  It’s like the Beatles in 2069.  And the lyrics are this weird Christmas department store feminist nightmare about eating your competitors and the modern right to sell your soul.

Epic #tbt happening here because this interview got lost in my inbox. Which is another example of why I would make an awful parent. Matthew from The Drones chatted with Left Bank a few seasons ago, and it’s an incredible interview. Check it out below!

Congrats on completing your newest album! Any track that is your favorite? and why that one over the others?

I personally like Sometimes more than the others.  Mainly because I don’t sing on it, but I like Fiona’s deadpan singing and the weird way I recorded her.  It sounds like someone threw an RnB vocal down the stairs.  I like my guitar solo if you can call it that.  It’s like the Beatles in 2069.  And the lyrics are this weird Christmas department store feminist nightmare about eating your competitors and the modern right to sell your soul.  Its a crazy song.  It reminds me of Four Sticks from Led Zeppelin 4 in the way that its nobody’s favourite track from the album when its released but give it 20 years and everyone will think wow this song is totally fucked up.

How did you get started in music/can you tell us a little about your background?

I didn’t know I’d be a musician.  Its not like anyone in the states gives much of a fuck about me but here in Australia and in Europe I can earn a living doing this, which is amazing to me ‘cause what I do is kind of weird.  I was born in Port Hedland in the north of West Australia in the outback I guess.  Then I moved to London until I was old enough to go to school and we moved back to Western Australia and I grew up on the beach in the northern outskirts of Perth.  I hung around with surfers and stoners and we listened to Beachboys and Hendrix and The Doors then stuff like Black Flag and Jane’s Addiction and Iggy and Suicide and got wasted and played in little punk bands at surfer parties. And then I met the original Drones guitarist Rui who had been born during the Mozambican war of independence before his family had fled to Rio De Janeiro where my dad was born.  Then I met Fiona who was raised a Mormon and we’d all jam and jam and jam and here we are today…  Its a really long and complicated story.

What’s your first memory around music?

It would be hearing Another Brick In The Wall by Pink Floyd in England when I was about 4 and really feeling it.  Not having any sort of intellectual or articulate reaction to it but just this basic animal acknowledgement that Pink Floyd was not fucking around.  It was a heavy vibe for a 4 year old and the film clip was beyond intense. I loved it and I could sing the chorus, which worried my mum.   That and Heart Of Glass by Blondie and Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf which me and my sister would listen to.  I always responded to the heavy minor key stuff.  I wasn’t having any of this pansy happy hippy major key bullshit, I could handle the bad news.

Might be a difficult question, but what does success mean for you as far as your music is concerned?

Two things.  The first is basic survival.  Financial survival.  I look at an audience before a show and I see rent and food.  That might sound conceited or kind of cold but it beats me looking at an audience and thinking I’m too cool for school, which a lot of people do.

The other thing is just how extraordinarily lucky I am to have made a living out of something that is essentially a personality disorder. Musicians are similar to cops or politicians in that respect.  Some musicians are ok and sound great but some can do that thing where they make you feel something.  That’s a really great talent but it comes from being a bit (or a lot) fucked up.  They say you need to suffer for your art but that isn’t true.  You just need to be banged out of shape before you get started.  Like Henry Rollins is angry at his dad’s world view and Maria Callas was always trying to transcend her mother’s.  Its not that complicated.  But the implications are pretty wild when you filter it through an art form.  And to be successful in an art form is to turn that damage into something other people find valuable.  Its a strange world.

If you could perform anywhere in the universe where would you and why?

I’d be riding nasa’s Juno probe jamming on my OP-1 when it finally does its Kamikaze dive bomb into Jupiter.  That would be a beautiful way to die.

The Drones … how did you come up with this name and what does it represent?

Just plebs.  Dull as dog shit office plebs on their way to work.  Me and our old guitar player Rui left high school and we were roadies and avoiders of the normal ways of life and we’d see these people going to work while we were coming home and think fuck that!

We came up with the name in about 1997 so we could label certain 4-track tapes different to others.  It stuck after that because in the 2000s every band was “the this” or “the that”.

Lastly, what have you been listening to lately?

Ummm, lots of stuff.  Selda Bagcan from Turkey, György Kurtág, I’ve rediscovered the first two Bikini Kill records after not listening to them since the 1990s, a band from Tasmania called All The Weathers,  a mad little punk band from Sydney called Dispossessed,  Lost Animal from Melbourne, Fugazi just ‘cause I haven’t listened to them for a long time, Shostakovich’s 15th String Quartet…. too much stuff to recall.

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