ATP Week - The Drones Interview

The Australian foursome on their ATP relationship...
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Australian four-piece The Drones aren’t particularly easy to categorise in terms of regular pigeonholes – a trait that seems to run the length of the ATP/R catalogue.

Forming around 2000 in Perth, and now based in Melbourne, the band is fronted by Gareth Liddiard and his wandering, interweaved narratives which suck the listener in like a can’t-put-down novel. Around him swirls instrumentation that clatters into blues, swaggers into country, explodes into punk. It is the rock of ages, distilled into the rock of tomorrow’s tomorrow – elemental yet mysterious.

The band have so far released three albums for the ATP record label – ‘Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By’ (2005), ‘Gala Mill’ (2006) and this year’s ‘Havilah’, released only last month. In total, including live albums, they’ve put out a respectable (to say the least) seven long-players, alongside various singles and a DVD of a live performance in Madrid.

Productive sorts, then. Here, the band answers our ATP Week questions…

(Listen to the band's 'Your Acting's Like The End of the World' on the audio player above.)

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The Drones – ‘Jezebel’


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How did you come to work with ATP in the first place?
We met Barry (Hogan, ATP founder) through a mutual friend in Melbourne. He came down to a show we played; we thought we were pretty shit, but he loved it. It was good timing, because we were having record label troubles and they offered to put our record out. That's pretty much how it all started.

What do you think the label’s reputation is, amongst the music-buying public? What does it ‘stand for’?
Well, they only release stuff they like. They don't care at all about sales and stuff. Their roster is pretty out there. Compared to everything else they put out we're like Coldplay or something. There aren't many labels like that anymore. I don't really know what the public thinks.

Do you feel the label stands alone from the festival, or should the two be seen as connected? Could one exist without the other?
I don't think the label would be around without the festival. The festival is how they make their living and it’s how they made their reputation.

I know you’ve played at ATP, because I’ve seen you there – what was the experience like?
Yeah, we've played at three ATP festivals in England, and one in New York. And we've played at one of their Don't Look Back shows in London. We have another Don't Look Back show coming up in New York with Suicide and the Dirty Three and Jesus Lizard and a few other bands. And we went to the Australian one in the mountains to hang out last year. The festivals are amazing. Whether you play or just go as a punter. No one does it like them. The bands and artists and comedians are always insanely good. There is none of this hairstyle type hipster shit. It’s just good music whether it’s someone well known or some crazy 80-year-old Greek dude chucking bottles at a microphone. But the big difference is that everyone who goes to the festival has a place to live on site. At the Australian and English festivals you basically get a house. Everyone gets a house, not just the bands. And there is a grocery store on site so you can stock your fridge with food and booze and cook meals and have awesome parties as well as checking out whatever music you want to check out. And all bands are expected to play one show but they can do as many shows as they like. You can set up in someone’s little house and blast it out any time you like. It’s really hard to convey how cool ATP festivals are. And they are 100 per cent tent free, which is great at 6am when you go to bed drunk.

Does working with ATP give you a degree more freedom than another label might, do you think?
As long as they like what you do, then you can do anything. There are zero rules. You can be as weird as you like. It’s just total freedom. If it wasn't we wouldn't work with them.

Can you tell us about your latest release for the ATP label?
It’s called ‘Havilah’. Havilah is the name of the valley that we recorded it in. We have a house there in this beautiful alpine forest half way between Melbourne and Sydney. It’s really isolated. There's no phone or TV reception – we have a satellite dish for the Internet, the water comes from a mountain spring and the electricity comes from a diesel generator. We got a van load of recording gear sent down from Sydney and set it all up and did it in two weeks. Where does it sit with the rest of our stuff? I have no idea really – as the themes go there are too many in there to talk about here. You just have to hear it, I guess. What's next? I wish I knew.

Do you have an appreciation ­ a love, even ­ of other act/s on the ATP label, and if so did their involvement with the label lead you to signing with ATP?
Yeah. We did a UK tour with Deerhoof a couple of years ago. They are mind-bendingly good live. And we're all Magic Band fans. The Fuck Buttons are great. It’s all good, but when we ‘signed’, if you can call it that, we didn't have any idea about who was on the label.

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The Drones – ‘The Minotaur’


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‘Havilah’ is out now on ATP/R, and The Drones can be found on MySpace HERE. Find ATP’s official website HERE. See The Drones live in the UK as follows…

June
8 London Rough Trade East in-store
10 Birmingham Hare & Hounds
11 Nottingham Bodega
12 Manchester Roadhouse
13 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
14 Glasgow Captain’s Rest

More ATP Week content…
* Alexander Tucker Interview
* Interview with the first ATP curators, Mogwai
* Fuck Buttons Interview
* Deerhoof Interview
* A Brief History: interview with ATP founder Barry Hogan
* ATP: A Beginners Guide

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