Drenge are made up of two brothers, Eoin and Rory Loveless who hail from the Peak District, not far from us (well, me) in Sheffield. They are a duo in the Black Keys / White Stripes way (as opposed to the Pet Shop Boys sort of way I suppose) with no bass, instead this raw, big riffed (is that a word) DIY sounding racket, and I mean that in a good way, because these boys are making waves, well, just about everywhere.
They’re signed to Infectious, and have been touring with Deap Valley and are about to support The Cribs for a few dates before hitting the festivals (Glastonbury included). Their brilliant single ‘bloodsports’ gained a load of airplay, Radio One included with the ever alert Zane Lowe picking up on it.
We took some time to speak to Eoin from the band about their plans, and being in one of the most hotly tipped new bands around at the moment.
[BM}So whats the story behind your name?
[Eoin, Drenge] Band names are a pretty cringeworthy necessity in music. Either you come up with something unsuspectingly cool (i.e. Black Leather Gloves) or you lower the listeners expectations with some that doesn’t make sense and is unpleasant to pronounce. Drenge is our attempt at the former. It’s the Danish word for boys and the ‘g’ isn’t pronounced. Denmarks a cool place. Rory has a few mates from an exchange and it has a pretty cool film history.
When you were growing up, did you argue about music? Who were you into?
We’ve never argued about music. It’s the one thing that brings us together. We had a tape of early Beatles stuff. Then it was Nirvana, swiftly followed by The White Stripes and then Blink 182 and Sum 41. Oh, and Wheatus… and [spunge]
Was there a specific track or album that made you think – yeah, I wanna do that?
Not specifically. I don’t think there’s ever been that sort of epiphany with us. We’re into a lot of different music and genres so to single out one song or even an album wouldn’t fully explain exactly why I wanted to play guitar or Rory pick up drums.
And you’re a duo – ever think of getting some others involved, or did you just know it would work better with the two of you?
It works good for us now. We write well like this. Our songs aren’t wildly intricate. It’s cheap to tour. But they’ll always be that feeling that we want to build the band up. We’d rather let the music inform how we work, so if we need an organ player, bassist or saxophonist we’ll get one.
Being from the peak district, did you feel sort of isolated musically, I guess there weren’t many chances to see live music around you? Was that a hinderance?
No. We’re fortunate enough that the internet came along and informed us of what was happening in the outside world. There’s a strong folk music scene in Derbyshire, so there were loads of kids at school that were extraordinarily talented. People started their own bands. I’d mosh my 12 year old boy around the gym with about 5 other people at the after school battle of the bands. Our dad always too us to see a lot of live music, although it was usually jazz and we were always the youngest in the audience.
A lot of your shows and videos are based in Sheffield now – you feel that’s a good place for bands to be right now?
Yeah, there’s a healthy scene. You meet a load of great people and there’s usually a group of afternoon/professional drinkers who watch your set with arms crossed and lips sealed. As far as I know we haven’t played a show to no one yet. It’s especially healthy for DIY bands and labels; Audacious Art Experiment and Tye Die Tapes being the notable examples
You’ve been compared to just about everyone, but who do you think are the best comparisons to the music you make?
Comparisons are lazy. Unless you’re an actual tribute act, people should go to you with open ears and minds. But to answer the question as it stands: We’re the [white] Chi-Lites with confidence issues and no formal vocal training.
You’re on at Glastonbury this year – how exciting is that? You going to try to check out the stones, or is there someone else you’re really looking forward to seeing?
It’s wildly exciting. Our grandad lives nearby so we went over to the Tor a couple of weekes ago. It’s a really great place, one of those olde worlde parts of the UK that still has that creepy pagan magic silent. I’l check out The Stones. I don’t want to have to lie to the grandkids about that. I don’t really know who else is playing.
And dates with The Cribs too – excited about that? Because playing live means a lot to you, right?
Yeah, The Cribs basically soundtracked that moment when I put down the Keane CDs and stopped playing Coldplay songs on my own in my bedroom. They gave me my modicum of cool and no one cared. Playing live is how we taught ourselves to play so yeah, for us it’s the only reason our band exists. I had a year out where I basically wasted around at home, unemployed and uninteresting. The only chance to get out of the house was to play these shows and they became my only way to get through the weeks
You’ve a new single coming out, Backwaters. Tell us about that?
Backwaters is about growing up in the country and having those frustrations of not being able to escape. We live in a beautiful place, but we’re surrounded by hills on all sides and it’s a huge geographical metaphor for being trapped. That in turn can work wonders on your mind so Backwaters is some drug-free hallucination and musing on living in paradise but never being able to visit hell in your free time.
And are you working on an album?
The album is done. We’re just sorting out the artwork. We’re very proud.
And future plans for the rest of the year?
I imagine we’ll be playing live through to the end of the year and on to the other side. If we can get a couple of new songs down before then we’ll be happy boys.
The best record I’ve heard this year is…
Pearl Mystic – Hookworms. I’m usually left disappointed by my high expectations when it comes to albums that I’ve waited and waited and waited for. I listened to it for the first time and was left dumbfounded. It’s one of the most immediately emotional records I’ve ever heard and you can’t even pick out the lyrics, which is wonderful. There’s nothing superfluous. They totally nailed it.