The Drones are a force of Australian musical nutrition.
All the flavours of controversial social and political liberation lyrics, mystical arrangements, layered, fragile, and at times strong, as if standing alone atop a dark mass. They’re touring their latest of 7 studio albums, and this one, like all the others, is a belter. Our revered mate Andrew Cowen slung a camera on his shoulder and headed into the trenches for their show in Sydney. Frontman Gareth Liddiard sports one of the best yeah cuts this side of Albury, and helped out my long time fandom by answering these questions below.
Congratulations on your latest album. Your music tends to references complex social and political themes. Is this a conscious decision or does it all just flow because you’re well read and smart?
I don’t really know. I’m not that smart. I don’t think being smart helps being creative, same as it doesn’t help in a fist fight. But I don’t think about it that much. I get that if it were all simpler and easier to understand in the traditional songwriter sense, like Randy Newman or Paul Kelly, I’d be driving a Ferrari, but I’d rather be out there doing something that hasn’t really been done. What I do is just a reflection of everything in my head. It’s messy.
Have you stumbled across any other great unsolved Australia mysteries like that of Tamán Shud?
I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I can name a few historical events that have been forgotten for no reason. And we’ve forgotten a few massacres along the way ’cause of guilty feelings. But one event that no one really remembers, and that’s totally extreme and totally made for the big screen is the wreck of the Batavia and the subsequent horror that ensued. All film makers are idiots until that film is made.
As far as touring goes can each of the band name three things you can’t live without on tour? and why?
I wouldn’t usually speak on anyone else’s behalf but I think I can in this instance. We would all agree on these things. Be warned, they’re not exciting items.
1. Booze. Some people drink, some don’t. We do. It helps.
2. Noise reduction headphones. These are a recent luxury item for The Drones. You can just plug them into your laptop and zone out. You can be somewhere else.
3. Jeans. One pair and you’re good. Eventually they stink and get salt stains on them from all the sweat but as long as everyone’s pants stink at the same time its cool. Can’t smell anything.
As a touring band for over ten years can you talk us through some of the major changes you’ve noticed out on the road, for example is it weird to play to iphones?
Yeah everything is a bit more hi-tech. On stage and off and in the crowd. I like technology but I do get sick of starring at a fucking screen all day. I even use a computer to program my old pedals now. So soundcheck is spent sitting there on a laptop tweaking shit. I once booked a European tour with a landline telephone. It took 6 months. It was really hard but there are pros and cons with tech stuff. A mate of mine describes it like this: Creativity is 10% inspiration and 90% checking emails.
Any exciting plans for the rest of the year?
I don’t really know yet. We’re going to Europe and maybe the US. That’s all I can think of.
Thanks so much for your time and for being an important musical force in Australia.
Their latest music video is a mind wrestle of cosmic: