Interview: The Drones
The Drones are no strangers to touring. Currently smack-bang in the middle of an epic North American jaunt, the band will soon be back in Australia for a national run of shows before flying to Europe for more of the same. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and completely jealous too. Drummer Mike Noga talks us through it.
How’s America? Have you noticed any difference now that Obama is in charge of the White House?
“I have actually; I don’t know what it is. There is some kind of powerful change – a vibe or something, especially in a place like Chicago where we were last night. There does seem to be a lighter vibe, nothing I can really put my finger on. It’s certainly more enjoyable coming here knowing an evil warlord isn’t in power anymore. Then again, we did a lot of driving through ‘the south’ and every second car still has their ‘McCain / Palin’ sticker on the bumper, even though the fucking election is over and they lost. I guess it depends where you go.”
What’s been the highlight of the trip so far?
“Ben from Band of Horses got married in South Carolina so we went down to his wedding which was great; a beautiful big Southern wedding. I ate a lot of grits and shrimp, biscuits and gravy and all that jazz – that was fucking great. We caught up with all the Band of Horses guys.”
Have the responses to the shows been good?
“They have. It’s a bit like Europe here for us, where some places are just so much better than others, and it’s normally the bigger cities. New York, LA and Chicago were all fantastic, and they usually are, because the populations are bigger more people know about us. It just changes from night to night. The response is generally pretty good – people seem to dig it. I think it’s pretty alien the way we sound; everything over here is fucking pre-packaged and sugary and disgusting, so when they see someone like us – a bit rough, noisy and a bit strange – they just go, ‘wow, what the fuck is this?’”
Are you playing with different support bands each night?
“There’s different supports every night. I can’t say I’ve seen anything that’s really yanked my chain yet. There’s one band I really like called Crystal Stilts, from Brooklyn, that played with us as South by Southwest. Americans have a pretty funny view of rock and roll – it’s certainly not what we are used to growing up in Australia with The Scientists and The Beasts of Bourbon. It’s pretty hard to find a good band here quite frankly.”
How was South by Southwest?
“Fucking crazy. I’m a bit cynical about it personally – you know when you’ve got five hundred million musicians in one town at the same time it can be a disaster. Our shows were good and well attended and everyone seemed to like it, but you jump up and play for fifteen minutes and jump off again. There’s always a bunch of buzz bands that people are trying to get in to see and the lines stretch around the block. It’s very American; let’s say that. A sensory overload. For a band like us, it was great to go play there, and hopefully we made some new fans, but we have a record label, we have management – I’m not really sure what we were doing there. We’re never going to be number one in the States, let’s put it that way. But it was fun.”
So David Yow’s band Qui had to pull out of the Australian tour with you guys?
“Yeah it’s a real shame, they had to pull out due to personal commitments, and it came out of nowhere. It was all lined up and ready to go. David has become a pretty good friend of ours. We’ve never actually seen Qui, but we’re all huge Jesus Lizard fans. We played a gig in LA and David came along, and he was a huge fan of ours and we’re huge fans of his and he became a good mate – hopefully we can do it in the future. I feel bad about that, but it was totally out of our hands. In good news The Jesus Lizard have reformed!”
So who’s playing the Australian dates with you now?
“Witch Hats are doing the whole tour, which is great; we love those guys. Kev Carmody, the Aboriginal singer / songwriter, is playing Sydney and Melbourne now too, which is a huge honour for us. He’s a legendary dude. We got to meet him when Paul Kelly asked us to do a couple of tribute concerts to Kev last year. There’s a reason he gets called ‘the Aboriginal Bob Dylan’, because his songs are fucking great.”
Will you have time for any shows with Mike Noga & the Gentlemen of Fortune when you get back to Australia?
“We’re going to try and squeeze something in somewhere. I think I’ve got a few mid-week nights off. I’ll try and sneak something in. It’s always hard with that band as everyone’s pretty busy. When we get back from Europe we’re going to put out a Gentlemen of Fortune release and do a tour, but I’m pretty caught up in The Drones world at the moment.”