INTERVIEW: Drenge | New Album 'Strange Creatures' - and a love for silent films!

Drenge at O2 Academy Leeds - Photo © Concentus Music

Drenge at O2 Academy Leeds - Photo © Concentus Music

Drenge have just released their third album this year, “Strange Creatures,” and are fresh off of a UK tour which included a milestone London show in Electric Brixton. The band kicked off this summer’s festival season with a show at Live at Leeds to an audience of 2,000+ at O2 Academy.


Lead singer Eoin Loveless took us through the release of their new album and open up about their philosophies as a band that have brought them here today!:


At your show in Leeds, you had a film playing in the background. Can you take us through these visuals of your live set?


Well, an hour before we went on stage, someone told us we have a screen, and I thought…Let’s put a film on! I’ve got a thing with old silent films, so it was this film by Dziga Vertov called Man with the Movie Camera, where he got a camera back in the day, and just rolled around with this camera, and just filmed loads of cool stuff. Then he went off in to this room and just chopped everything up, and made these really short little things. The idea was that there is no story, no narrative, no music - it was just the images. This is where it always gets a bit arty, but when he’s cutting all this stuff together, he’s making wider message about work and leisure and nature and society. It’s great when you read in to it, so, I wanted to have it playing behind us because it looks fucking cool and I love that film.


The other reason is that people can sometimes get a bit lost when they’re watching a band on stage, and they feel like they’re watching some rock stars really rock out with these massive egos. I’m just not that guy, so any excuse to have show that we are at work, and this is our job. We want to provide a service for you that you can enjoy. There are so many facets to it. So sticking a film like that on the background is the marriage of work and leisure, and it ultimately reflects what we do. The music is our work, and we love doing it, but the audience isn’t at work, so we want to give everyone a good time.


So it’s not like you’re writing music to film, but it’s just a visual aspect to your live show. Do you do it on your national tours too?


No – it was just a one off today!


So still on the topic of visuals, you’ve got quite striking album covers and music videos. Are you creatively involved with that aspect too?


Yep – musically and visually!


And being on third album this year, how has 2019 been? Has your audience changed since the release?


It’s been really busy! We went away for a bit, had a little nap, and then we come back to it and there are moments I’m there like…fuck! I’m really fucking busy! My brain is just like woooah. The Leeds show was our last show for a couple of months, so now we’ve got a little bit of time away to work on some new music. It’s been great for me. I love playing shows, I love making a good show, building stuff together. I love the record that we just made. I really enjoyed promoting it through our little in-store shows and the tour that we did after it, and playing such a big venue in Leeds.


Are you playing similar sized venues on your headline tours too?


Only in London and Manchester we played similar sized venues.


How are you received in your hometown of Sheffield? Is it always bigger in London and Manchester?


Sheffield kind of gets it... You are understood at home with your own people, but the appetite isn’t as fervent. Whereas in Manchester, guitar music is just in the blood of the people. They wake up and say ‘I’m going to listen to The Courteneers today. I’m gong to listen to Oasis. I’m going to listen to stuff that makes me feel good.’ That’s what I love about that city. That city is always a massive party. 


You mentioned the in-stores – which included the likes of Rough Trade in London. But which do you prefer - the intimate in-stores, or the bigger venues? What’s better for you as an artist?


With the in-stores, we did something that was a bit stupid, but we made like a pop show of ours songs, and I think in this way, we confused a lot of people!


It’s a good place to experiment though – much less people at an in-store!


Yeah - so it’s not a huge risk. But still a risk…But playing in a nice venue with good acoustics, great PA, with space for people, stage height, good lights… just paying in a good venue is my preferred option. Playing in a shop is nice, but my job is to play music the best that I can, and the best I can is usually in a well fitted venue. 


Drenge at O2 Academy Leeds - Photo © Concentus Music

Drenge at O2 Academy Leeds - Photo © Concentus Music

Speaking of the tour, though Drenge is a duo, I noticed that this is your first tour playing with a 4 piece. How do the two of you translate your music to your live band who you tour with? Do you let them pick up the vibe themselves, or are you strict do things a certain way?


I don’t want it to be this free flowing thing because I’ve got very particular idea of how I want it to be, but at the same time I just can’t be bothered being an asshole about it. The people that we play with, Rob and Ed, are some of our closest friends and I love spending time with them. They’re super talented.


So they’re not just session musicians you hire, you already know them?


Yeah, I wouldn’t go down the session musician route. Maybe if we get string or a brass section in, but I want to play with my mates and I want to go on tour with my mates. I just want it to be free and natural and fun.


I guess it helps if it’s your friends too, as they already connect with you, so you don’t have to explain who you are or where you’re coming from right? Do they play on the record too or is that just you and Rory?


Well Ed joined us after we finished the record. We wrote the record then we were just adding stuff and adding stuff and being a bit indulgent. And I listened to it and I was like.. oh shit, there are like 3 guitar parts and keyboards and weird sound effects. So rob used to play bass for us, but then I thought, he’s too good a guitarist to leave him on bass. He needs to play guitars, he needs to play keys, I love his little set up where he’s just working and working and working. It’s like I said earlier – it’s a job to him. He properly commits to it, takes his time and care over how everything sounds, and really puts the work in. With Ed as well, we needed a bassist and Ed was in this other band ‘Best Friends,’ and they had the best vibe ever, I was like... can you play with us. 


You poached him haha! Are you full time Drenge? 


I try to be!


As a duo, how do you split the responsibilities? Is it like you’re the vocalist, so you do all the lyrics and quite formulaic like that, or is it more of a jam?


I write the lyrics. But writing together is un-formulaic….It is about as mental as the gravitational field that we all exist in. 


New Artists Drenge Recommend: All Girls Arson Club, Them Sardines