I conduct interviews for Spit in between fulltime freelance writing, piano teaching and trying to hold my life together – which often proves difficult for someone like me – so as much as I love chatting to everyone we interview, it’s rare that I find myself willing these interviews to last much longer than they do. Conversly, my chat with The Drones’ guitarist Dan Luscombe seemed much too abrupt – a testament to just how interesting and worthy of praise his band really is.
I’m honest with Dan Luscombe when I tell him I’m not quite sure how to describe his band’s music. He is equally as honest with me: “I’m no better at it than you,” he laughs.
The Drones have been regulars on the Australian music scene for years but finding a genre in which to categorise them, or a band to which to compare them still proves difficult.
“I’ve been trying to do that for a while,” Dan tells me. “Now, I’ve gone the other way and started telling people that we make really horrible noise. They look at me as if to say, ‘Why would you want to do that with you life?’ That’s when I try to talk about something else.”
Dan is as funny and self-depreciating as he is honest, but it’s clear he and his band mates take making good music seriously.
“If I was to be earnest for a moment, I suppose I would say it’s very caustic, garage, folk music,” he says, and then pauses. “Wait, I’ve failed again!”
Whatever it is they’ve been making, it’s certainly been keeping The Drones busy this year. Having just commenced their second national album tour for the year, the band seem to have had little time to breath, playing supporting and festival tours also.
“We had kind of just planned to do the album tour and that was about it but it’s been a serendipitous, happy accident kind of a year,” Dan tells me. Then he adds, “We’ve got no complaints!”
The band has been touring off the back of their sixth studio album, I See Seaweed, arguably one of their most successful releases to date.
Dan says the band is happy with the album and that’s really all that matters to them. Commercial success is…well…whatever.
“We never set out to write a hip record. We set out to write a good one,” he explains. “The intentions behind the record are pure and hopefully people see that.”
As Dan points out however, selling music that is somewhat unusual is harder in Australia than other places given our relatively small and, in my opinion only, often lazy listening population.
“If we were in the States and we had the kind of following we have here, I guess our name would be more prevalent. Strange music gets a chance there,” says Dan. “I get so angry when I think that our government goes to such great lengths to keep the population down. We need to sell some fucking records!! Well, not just that, but also for that.”
After catching the band at Splendour, I ask Dan how he and his band mates approach a festival stage. After all, they’re not really the kind of band everyone sings along to as they wrap their drunken arms around each other.
“Believe it or not there are some psychos out the front who do sing along to our songs!” Dan laughs.
“We’re all a bit older now and we don’t really give a fuck anymore. We care about the music and we care about it being good but we’re beyond the point of selling ourselves to people. You’re either with us or you’re not.”
It’s something I like about The Drones – it’s obvious they like they’re own music and they’re not going to compromise that for the chance to ‘make it’ as a massive Australian act.
“We’re almost unburdened in that respect and we exploit the hell out of that!” Dan explains.
If fact, Dan tells me they’re still shocked when asked to play festivals like Splendour.
“We’re very grateful but often very surprised that some festivals want us on their bill. Musically, we felt like very old, noisy people.”
They might feel like ‘old, noisy people’ but the guys aren’t planning to throw in the towel anytime soon. They’re already looking at recording a follow up to I See Seaweed because they’re on a real roll at the moment. Dan tells me, again in his refreshingly honest tone, that they also need to keep making money.
“Just for the record, there aren’t many piles of cash to count.”
When I chatted to Dan the band was looking for somewhere to record their new album and had recently put a call out to the public for help.
“Everything needs to work and it needs to be close to a Lebanese bakery.”
For now, the band is busy putting on shows for their ever-increasing Australian fan base. For those who’ve already seen them this year, Dan tells me they’re going to mix up their set lists and dig up a few Drones classics.
“You’ve got to be mildly interesting these days don’t you?” he laughs.
The Drones Australian and New Zealand 2013 Tour Dates
Friday 13th September – The Hi Fi – Melbourne VIC
Saturday 14th September – The Hi Fi – Melbourne VIC
Friday 20th September – Fowlers Live – Adelaide SA
www.moshtix.com & www.venuetix.com.au
Saturday 21st September – The Bakery Perth – WA
www.nowbaking.com.au and www.oztix.com.au
Thursday 26th September – Zierholz @ UC – Canberra ACT
Friday 27th September – The Hi Fi – Brisbane QLD
Saturday 28th September – The Metro – Sydney NSW
Friday 4th October – Kings Arms – Auckland NZ
Saturday 5th October – Bodega – Wellington NZ
Friday 22nd November – Cambridge Hotel – Newcastle NSW
www.bigtix.com.au & www.oztix.com.au
Also appearing at:
Sunday Nov 10th – Harvest Festival 2013 – Melbourne VIC
Saturday Nov 16th – Harvest Festival 2013 – Sydney NSW
Sunday Nov 17th – Harvest Festival 2013 – Brisbane QLD
Saturday 23rd November – The Farmer And The Owl – Wollongong NSW