Tremblingly thin, without two beans to rub together, The Drones weathered a winter in Europe, gathering accolades, bruises and hangovers. Returning to Melbourne six months later they discovered they had achieved that rarest of things: overseas success AND respect back home.
Their fate as all-round good eggs was sealed when they were presented the first ever Australian Music Prize in March, which awarded them $25k and the opportunity to flog themselves around the globe still further.
This time they’re back on the continent for dates with Aussie legends The Scientists and Mudhoney in the UK, and Dinosaur Jr. “Then god only knows,” says singer Gareth Liddiard. “Hari kari, probably.”
Last year’s album Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By is a ragged, yet articulate howl, all swampy guitars trawling the desert hinterland of Australia.
Liddiard has served time with Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males and some of Melbourne’s most flavoursome bands, while drummer Mike Noga hires himself out to his favourite Australian and international acts and is a solo musician in his own right. The lineup is winsomely fleshed out with bassist Fiona Kitschen and the mysteriously mute guitarist Rui Pereira.
Their next album, Gala Mill was recorded at a haunted, convict-built mill in Tasmania, and will be released later this year. “It’s quite quiet compared with our other albums,” Fiona warns of the finished result.
“We wanted to do something that didn’t make us want to go to bed afterwards,” explains Gareth, who inevitably crawls off stage drenched in sweat. “Because we play pretty full-on. In a physical sense it’s almost athletic. But we’re getting older, you know what I mean? We’re not match fit.”
Towards the end of 2005 The Drones hunkered down in Berlin, former home of fellow Australians The Bad Seeds and now new Beggars Banquet signing The Devastations. “Fuck all the Iggy, Bowie, Cave shit. It’s cheap,” Gareth reasons, dismissing any notion of an expat scene.
“I love Australia, don’t get me wrong, but for biz, biz being food, we had to move,” he admits. “I don’t mean doing the Grace Brothers thing. I mean move. Like Django or something. Staying afloat.”
So what have The Drones learned on their adventures so far? That running up a Swiss Alp is the greatest hangover cure. That Spain is nuts. That the aftershock of the war is all-encompassing in Berlin, where Soviet tanks sat at the end of their street.
And England? Do they like England? “Ah… no, not really,” Gareth says kindly. And everyone politely averts their eyes…
Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By is out now on ATP/Recordings, with 7” single double A-side Shark Fin Blues/You Really Don’t Care out this week. The Drones play The Spitz on Tuesday 9 May with Australian legends The Scientists, and the mighty All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Camber Sands on the 12 May.
Courtesy of All Tomorrow’s Parties we have a double pass to see The Drones and The Scientists at The Spitz on Tues 9 May. The winner will also receive a copy of the new single Shark Fin Blues/You Really Don’t Care.
For a chance to WIN, just tell us the name one of the songs from the new single?
Email your answers to: [email protected]