With their thunderous debut EP ‘Stranger days’ recently receiving a number of spirited airings on the exposed jukebox – tearing down a few wall fittings and smashing our office crockery in the process – we thought it high time to invite Somerset alt-rock quartet October drift along to partake in our monthly in Session feature. Before the film started rolling, guitarist Dan sat down with exposed to dish the dirt on his band mates.
It’s a pleasure to have you joining us for this month’s Exposed: In Session. Which tracks will you be playing for us?
‘Champagne’ and ‘Syrup’.
Tell us a bit about each one.
‘Champagne’ apparently came from a post-break up wallow of Kiran’s. ‘Syrup’ was inspired by song like Kurt Viles’ ‘Wakin’ on a Pretty Day’ and The Velvet Underground track ‘Sunday Morning’. Kiran wrote the lyrics in the summer and tried to capture that brief moment when you wake up with the sun beaming into your room, before you work out where or even who you are.
The debut EP came out last month, and you’ve spoke about how it deals with the life juxtapositions thrown up by being in a touring band: the struggle to maintain relationships, spending time on the road and the comedown element of returning home to part-time jobs. What makes it all worth it for you?
Obviously the feeling you get when you play a great live show is something unbelievable, and the adrenaline makes you feel like you can take on the world, but for me it’s the accomplishment of making songs I genuinely love. If I can make a song that I would want to listen to myself if it wasn’t my band, then that definitely makes it all worth it.
Last month marked your first year as a band. Tell us a bit about that journey.
It honestly feels like five minutes since we played those first few shows in London, Sheffield and Bristol. We went the first three quarters of the year just purely building the fan base by word of mouth without any social media, which was really fun, if not a tad challenging at times. Obviously it’s now all been turned on, and that seems to have taken off really well! It feels like we’ve achieved a shead-load over the year which we’re all really proud of, but we’re definitely upping our game in terms of activity with longer tours, festivals and more releases coming out in the future. From now on it’s gonna be more of a continuous push.
What are the main lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
I’ve learnt that we think too much when we have time in between releases. Chris and I are definitely the band worriers! When we weren’t touring for long periods of time we were just up at our studio freaking out that we might have been wasting time or that people would forget about the band. Of course, this wasn’t the case; and I’m really glad that’s what we did for the first year as it helped to build a solid platform to take off from. But it’s great that it’s just all ‘go’ this year, even if it’s just for mine and Chris’s sanity!
I feel the band have been shrouded in a bit of mystery to some extent, so let’s open things up a bit here. Can you tell me one little-known fact about each member of the band?
Wow! I could be properly harsh about the guys here, couldn’t I? Could make up some real tasty stories…However, let’s start with Kiran (singer). Keys! Never trust him with a car key! We’ve been locked out of more cars and vans than you can imagine. Once he locked the keys in the car after a show in London and we had to wait two hours for the AA to come and break into it! Alex (bass) lives tucked away in a cottage on the Devon/Somerset border. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere – and there are alpacas, pigs and pet ducks running around all over the place! In the summer he essentially becomes the groundsman, cutting the neighbour’s lawns and fixing potholes in the drive. He’s also our go-to guy in the band when we need quick mental arithmetic, which comes in handy as the rest of us suck. Chris (drums) literally wants to be a ‘80s Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s obsessed with the gym and I think, if his girlfriend would let him, he’d be weighing in at around 20 stone by now. Thank God she’s with him though; otherwise our press shots would be looking very different!
As for me, I’m just glad that I’m answering this one, as the others would have completely torn me apart. I’d probably say that I’m quite indecisive; I get super into something for a couple months and then move onto the next thing that catches my attention. It can be anything from a new sport I’ve taken a sudden liking to, or even a new song we write that could be my favourite one week and then my least the next. It’s even got to the point where they’re putting bets on when I’ll start going off the logo!
You’re known for putting on an intense live show. How do you psyche yourselves up before a show? Is there a routine?
There’s definitely a routine for us. It involves plenty of punching and wrestling, and just before we go on stage we do like an American football huddle with all hands-in and a “3,2,1! … *insert random psyche-up phrase of the night*”
Preferred gig venue: large stadium or scruffy sweatbox?
Give me the atmosphere of a packed out scruffy sweat box with the sound of a massive stadium please! Is that allowed?
You can have that, mate. When people listen to your music – either at live shows or through a pair of earphones – how do you want them to feel?
I want them to feel exactly how we did when we wrote it, or if it’s a more personal song for Kiran, how he felt when he wrote those lyrics. I think that’s the ultimate goal in music: to get the artist and the audience to be on the same level and connect together. I hate this idea of ‘I’m the musician on the stage performing and you guys are just watching. ‘Everyone needs to be completely part of the experience.
I love the line “fate lies where the wind blows” in the EP’s closing track ‘I Left My Heart in Amiens’. What does the ideal future look like for October Drift ? You don’t strike me as the ‘make shit-loads of money and move to LA’ type.
Ok, here’s my dream as it stands, but like I mentioned before, I’m very indecisive! I want the band to be at the level of selling out the larger touring venues – Leadmill main room and the O2 Academy, etc. I think that’s the perfect size: where you can see to the back of the room but it’s a proper show at the same time! I’d like to get our music into a really cool film too… maybe a Tarantino movie or something, and get to go to the premiere dressed in a suit. Oh, and as our sound engineer, Francis, always says, ‘you’ve done really well if you can afford to buy a house from it.’ So I’d pick myself up a nice semi in the suburbs. Now, that’s the dream!
Let’s talk about something on the more imminent horizon: your upcoming gigs at The Leadmill and Tramlines weekend. You obviously know the city well; but technically being outsiders, what do you think makes it a “music city” or an engaging place for bands to relocate to?
I think it’s about two things: the first being that there are enough great shows going on in the city every week, which in Sheffield literally seems to be every night! Neil, our manager, is constantly going to different shows around the city and it’s such a cool thing to be able to do right on your doorstep. We had one night off in the middle of our tour to go out here and I think there were about ten different bands in different venues to choose from on that night! The second is about having a welcoming existing music scene. I think this is definitely the most important thing for a band coming in as outsiders and something that has really drawn us this city. The other bands here have accepted us with open arms and that’s really cool. It’s amazing when we’re playing shows and we can see familiar faces from the Sheffield scene in the audience!
As a band on the move so often, where do you feel most at home or comfortable?
For me, I now have different pockets of England that feel like home. Obviously Somerset, but Sheffield, Bristol, and Manchester are feeling more and more familiar. Ok, actually, I think Sheffield is home when we’re in the top half of the country and Somerset when we’re in the bottom half. And I guess the fact that we’re all going to these places together just makes you feel at home wherever you are anyway. God knows what it must be like for a solo artist though!