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25th March 2013

Interview: Drenge

Backstage at The Deaf Institute, the band of brothers discuss Denmark, two-piece tribulations and the curse of the Sheffield band

“I’m not really sure.” Drenge frontman Eoin Loveless is being quizzed on their decision to adopt a Danish word for a band name. Younger brother Rory, who with Eoin comprises the Sheffield outfit, interjects, “We do like Danish things, Danish films…Dogma 95”. It’s well-documented that the twosome fancy themselves as connoisseurs of avant-garde cinema, and their fascination with Denmark originates from a school exchange. It was on this trip that they were introduced to their band name: “when we were playing football with the Danish lads, they began shouting ‘Drenge, Drenge!’ Later, we learnt that it meant ‘boys’ in Danish, and we just thought it seemed fitting.”

Despite their rural origins in the Peak District’s Castleton, Drenge have carved out a name for themselves in Sheffield. When asked why they gravitated towards performing there, they explained that although they “live directly between Manchester and Sheffield, it was just the fact that transportation links to Sheffield are tremendous. If we lived on the other side of the hill we would probably find ourselves in Manchester a lot more.” They’re irked, though, by the typical comparisons to other Sheffield bands: “guitar-playing bands always get compared or contrasted to the likes of Arctic Monkeys – it’s an honour to be compared to a band like that I suppose – but we have never been propelled to do this for any commercial reason. Our progression so far has happened organically”.

Varying descriptions of Drenge’s sound have them down as being sonically similar to The Black Keys, Bromhead Jackets and Milburn. When asked why their music is hard for reviewers to pin down, Rory offers the explanation that “because we listen to a lot of different music and our songs vary quite a lot in style, we haven’t become pigeonholed as part of a particular genre, I don’t think. We continue to write songs that don’t always fit contextually with what we were like as a band originally”.

Being only two in number, there’s obvious limitations to consider, especially onstage. “In the live sense, we are restricted. Before touring, we spent two weeks in the studio before coming out on tour, and stuff we produced there we could never produce live. We used a piano for example, that’s what it’s all about – experimenting and learning what were about. But we don’t want the current line-up to limit the music we can make”. Nodding in agreement, Rory divulges that “if in the future we feel it’s limiting, then it is definitely an option to being someone else in.”

No one could accuse the brothers of being sentimental towards each other; they confessed that “after touring, we will go a few days without talking”. When offered the comparison of a strenuous relationship similar to that of the Gallagher brothers they laughed, claiming “we don’t put it on for the media façade as Oasis do”. Eoin openly admitted that “we argue, but we get over it and besides we can throw a punch, but we don’t hate each other. Just the other day Rory hit me with a piece of plastic!”

Since signing with the Infectious label, which already boats an impressive collective of acts, including Alt-J, Drenge now appear to be making strides in building rapport with the press. The brothers admit that interviews “don’t come particularly naturally to us”, given their retiring, introverted manner, but recognise the opportunity that a record label offer. “We’re thankful to have the opportunity to support the bands we have done like The Cribs and Mystery Jets, so we’re more than happy to deliver and promote for our record label”.

In the past year, Drenge have covered the circuit, mainly as a support band for a number of prolific bands, and when asked whether touring with such established acts has taught them any ‘tricks of the trade’ Eoin responded positively. “Oh yeah, you learn so much, from the way they treat their audience to the way they make music on the stage, there’s a lot to take in”. “We once supported Tribes, Mystery Jets and the Vaccines in a cave that was literally next to our house,” Rory recounts fondly, when asked what has been their most enjoyable gig in their short time as a band. “There was always the All-day International Psychedelic Festival too though, it was great – crowds of people in tie-dye, big beards and hats, it was like something from the 70s”.

It does, however, appear that the rock n’ roll lifestyle once a staple for bands on tour is largely cliché nowadays. As Rory revealed, “It’s up to you really. It can be like that if you want it to be, but most bands these days are conscious about having to get up the next day and drive to the next place…sound check…play another show. Half the time, it’s easier not to have a wild one”.

As our chat neared its conclusion, matters turned to their debut album, Bloodsports, which was released a few days prior. “Release dates mean nothing these days” Eoin said dejectedly, “the album was live weeks before anyways, it’s almost like the release date is the day we can stop pretending and talking about the album and begin to concentrate on our next work”. There’s certainly a humility about the duo; “we don’t want to be rock gods or idolised. Ideally, everyone would leave the gig inspired to start their own band. We just want to prove that anyone can start a band and that we don’t need to work in an office all our lives.” Somewhere in that is a message for us all.

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