Foundations: Drenge

Foundations: Drenge

"A psychological horror movie on wax..."

Drenge never stray too far from their roots.

After all, they don't have to - with a two-person line up they're consistently weighted down, yet afforded the space to attempt something different.

New album 'Strange Creatures' is out now, the result of extensive sessions at Sheffield's McCall Sound studio space alongside Ross Orton.

Concise, considered, and at times daring to be different, Drenge describe it as “a nocturnal record. A psychological horror movie on wax”.

Clash caught up with the band to delve a little deeper into their musical addictions - here are the Foundation records of Drenge...

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Bob Dylan - 'Highway 61 Revisited'

Over the course of a few weeks in early 2013, we were living at home and finishing writing what would become our first album in a DIY space in Sheffield. There were a few other CDs in our parents car, Joni Mitchell and some jazz, but 'Highway 61 Revisited' got played more than any other, as loud as the stereo would go, while our mum drove us into town on her way to work over placid moorland and down into a swarm of morning commuters.

Each daunting writing session could wait as we yelped half remembered lyrics, howled out the guitar lines and drummed along on the dashboard before being booted out across town. Apathy, indignation, cynicism, and disdain backed by a runaway rock and roll band rattled around our heads as we walked in silence to the rehearsal room each morning, feeling sorry for all the Mr Jones’ running late for work.

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V/A - 'Cuisine Non-Stop'

My first job was as a paper boy and I’d do the kilometre from the post office down Edale Road everyday before school from when I was 11 to when I was about 15. Barking dogs, burst slugs and bitter weather did nothing to dampen my spirit. Every spring, dead frogs would appear on the road by the river; cut down on their annual migration by lost lorries and Land Rovers. It was stomach turning stuff.

'Cuisine Non-Stop' was a compilation album of early 00s French pop music from David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label and I’d listen to it as I delivered frontline reports from the Iraq war and Diana conspiracy headlines. The tracks fit snuggly together, connected through their acoustic arrangements and a Jean-Pierre Jeunet sense of mischief.

The ragtag folk energy across 'Cuisine Non-Stop' feels like a battered leather trunk you’d find in a Parisian Antique shop, encrusted in trinkets and jewels. My French is worse than it was then, but the vocal performances on this record are superb; especially Arthur H’s nicotine stained croak on Naive Derviche.

These strange songs weren’t getting played on the radio, and they weren’t on the CDs I’d swap with my mates. For me, they were a deeply personal listening experience and my first foray into outsider music.

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Allman Brothers Band - 'Eat A Peach'

I don’t think we’d quite gotten our heads around what an album actually was or what they were for yet as our dad put the needle down on 'Eat A Peach' as we were growing up in the late 90s. But the manic jitter of Duane Allman’s guitar, especially on 'One Way Out' and 'Trouble No More', acted as a kind of catnip on us as we ran ourselves tired up and down the living room, as we normally did, over a mini trampoline in pre bedtime ritual (parents take note, it worked!).

Sometimes we’d stop our dance and have a look at the record. This is the first album I remember looking at and starting to twig on to something, more than what was before my eyes and ears, as our Dad pulled out the large black disc, ran the turntable, opened the gatefold and revealed the lurid artwork. Mountains, rivers, temples, fairies, mushrooms, eyes and things I still don’t understand 20 years later.

And… they were a band! Of brothers! Duane Allman died shortly after this album was recorded. It was a lot for a small boy to take in. This was a real artefact to us. It was euphoric and painful and mysterious and demanded attention.

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Pulp - 'Different Class'

We spent a few years living in a Quaker commune when we were kids. In a huge building near Bamford in the Hope Valley, the old offices for a water board were turned into living quarters and 10 acres of land used to grow crops or grow wild.

There was a small boot sale one weekend and I bought a copy of Pulp’s 'Different Class' for a quid. I loved the artwork which had alternative covers you could slip in and out, but I began listening to the CD quite a bit.

I didn’t know Pulp were from Sheffield. 'Different Class' looks like a vintage album, so I didn’t think it was a record from 1990s either. I was too young to understand most of the record. Too young to be a misfit, or a common person or to know exactly what a 'F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.' felt like. It felt like something I’d have to grow up to appreciate and eventually I did.

'Different Class' still holds its own 24 years on. A sordid, passionate, frank record. I went to see their fantastic homecoming show at Sheffield Arena a few years ago, featured in the brilliant concert documentary Pulp: a Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets. Introducing their Bar Italia, Jarvis name checked a small cafe on the way out of the city centre heading towards the arena. He may or may not have been referring to Norfolk Bridge Cafe - now a snazzy shish bar thats not too far from our studio.

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Herbie Hancock - 'Headhunters'

This album was never far out of reach growing up. The electrifying funk of Herbie Hancock’s agile band was completely alien to much else around. The lengthy and tight jazz grooves can only come from a group of musicians at the top of their game. They just sound so competent and in tune with one another.

'Watermelon Man' was a staple of our Dad’s jazz band’s setlist when they’d do all the local village carnivals, with us two in tow. But their version had much more in common with the more ‘traditional-jazz’ sounding original on Herbie Hancock’s first album 'Takin’ Off', recorded 10 years before this. 'Headhunters', in comparison, is far more connected to the funk of James Brown and Sly Stone.

It took a long time to figure out the two were the same tune explored in different ways. Each version is obviously different but undoubtedly works. That for me is what defines the greatest songs.

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'Strange Creatures' is out now.

Photo Credit: James Winstanley

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