Following the release of their ferocious first album after some relentless gigging up and down the realm, including more or less every festival you could shake a partially dissected stick at, it would appear that Eoin and Rory Loveless have set about commendably answering the questions asked since the success of their Bloodsports EP – a record which left Zane Lowe reaching for the oven gloves as he pronounced it his ‘Hottest Record in the World’.
With the latest album replacing the need for caffeine in the office, we at Exposed were positively chomping at the bit to get the lads in for a bone-crunching, angst-charged In Session feature. Join us as we chew the dissected cartilage and cautiously dip toes in to the hair-raising world of Drenge.
Your music can sometimes promote grisly imaginings, with medieval connotations coming through the lyrics and regular nods to macabre. Where do the inspirations behind the flesh, blood and bone style imagery come from?
E: I suppose we just come from an old part of the world. We live underneath this castle which has been falling away for the last 950 years or something, that creates a strong impression upon the skyline. Whenever we’d make our way in to Sheffield, we’d intermittently come across various road kill. New born lambs die early in the winter due to the cold. If suppose you live in the countryside you just become used to a grim, harsher way of life.
There’s a sense of irony there: the idea that behind what appears to be idyllic village life lies darkness and morbidity… It’s a bit like Hot Fuzz, really?
E: It is. Even though our Parish Council isn’t quite as messed up. We’ve visited the town which Hot Fuzz was set in and you could definitely see a dark side to these places. Stuff like this clock which had been running for like 500 years – and on each hour two guys come out on horseback and one would decapitate the other. It’s dark stuff, really.
A sense of isolation appears to be a recurring theme throughout your music. Does that stem from you being “out in the sticks”, as part of this integrated community?
E: I suppose so. I think there are about 300-400 people living in Castleton , so the population is tiny. And everything does seem to be catered solely for the tourists who visit and bring the money, for example, you’ll be paying London-type prices in the local pubs.
So almost like being isolated within isolation?
E: Yeah, you’re kind of out in the sticks, but you also still feel kind of detached there. I mean, there’s still a nice local community within Castleton…
At this point we welcome the belated arrival of younger brother Rory, who fell victim to a cave troll ambush whilst battling to find his way over the misty mountains. (The bus to Sheffield was late).
Hi Rory, we were just discussing the Hot Fuzz style undercurrent of gloom which can be found in seemingly idyllic village towns.
R: Yeah, I’ve always kind of thought that. Especially when you see the same people getting on and off the bus each day, all knowing each other’s business… (To Eoin) I saw Mad Mark earlier.
Brief discussion between the brothers about this curious local character.
Sticking with the isolation theme, did music help fill this void while growing up?
R: It definitely did for me; I used to play in a lot of bands at school. Pretty much every night after school I’d be playing in a school band or friend’s band – so it kept me quite busy.
Was it a struggle establishing yourselves and getting to and from gigs in Sheffield at the start?
E: We’d get the bus in from Castleton with all of our kit and get up to The Washington or somewhere. We’d play through our set and promptly leave so we could catch the twenty past ten bus back. But, to be fair, we were enjoying it so it wasn’t a struggle.
R: In terms of establishing ourselves, I don’t feel as though there was much of a desire to establish ourselves on a large spectrum. At the start we were happy with a small gig a month in Sheffield.
Do you ever dwell on the idea that if you were from Camden and not Castleton you may have turned more heads a lot sooner?
E: It’s a strange thing, because you go to them parts of the world, you see these bands absolutely slogging it and often not for the right reasons. To be honest, you end up feeling kind of relieved that it’s not you.
R: I think that if we’d been from Sheffield, then maybe we would’ve been more tempted to go up to Leeds and Manchester a bit earlier.
As a band, when do you make that decision to branch out a bit? Is it when you feel your music getting stronger and want to share it with more people, or is it simply getting a bit bored of playing the same places?
R: I think more of the latter actually.
E: It’s really great to see other parts of the UK. I never thought that our music would have taken us to places like Middlesbrough, Southampton, Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol and others. You get to see other parts of Britain in a quite weird state, like, there’s a lot of towns that seem to have just been forgotten about.
It would appear that, in Sheffield, the darker styles of rock has been gaining credence over the last few years – with the success of yourselves, Wet Nuns, Dead Sons, etc. Why do you think people are responding so well to this music? Is it, perhaps, a sign of the times we live in?
R: Yeah, probably. I think that the Arctic Monkeys third album may have something to do with it, too. Before that came out, there were tons of bands just trying to emulate the sound of the first two albums. Since Humbug, maybe a darker sound has become a more desirable style to play and to listen to. But I suppose you could attribute it also to the tough times people are living in.
A soft indie record just might not do it for people anymore?
R: Yeah, maybe it doesn’t. (To Eoin) What was that thing you were saying about the dubstep scene the other day?
E: Basically, I used to get dragged to dubstep nights with my mates and I’d spend all night listening to this horrible music. We used to be there for like ten hours straight and it became obvious how the music is based on repetitive beats, then a massive build and a drop. It’s really predictable and the drop provides some really empty gratification for a few seconds. That type of music has nothing to offer. I think people start to see through it after a while.
R: In songs like ‘I Wanna Break You In Half’ we kind of mickey take that music. With the big builds and stupid voiceless choruses.
Referring back to shifting styles in albums, do you feel a need to depart from a certain sound and try a different one for the next album?
R: Well, our first album was recorded over one and half years, and it’s chronological. So I noticed a change in style throughout the album, we kind of started off with the fast tunes then branched out with ‘Fuckabout’ and ‘Let’s Pretend’ – which I can’t categorise like I could with the early stuff.
E: There’s still a big appeal to our early, fast paced guitar songs. The energy you get at live gigs when there are loads of kids in the room going mad. I think some bands get the impression that they can slow down a bit for the second album, but I think speed and energy can be the essence to really great tracks.
You mentioned being unable to categorise your newer music earlier, does it frustrate you the sort of need to categorise new bands in a specific genre early on?
R: I don’t really know. I think when people first used genres there were a lot less bands, so it was maybe easier, but today there’s such a wider spectrum and they don’t really help out anymore. A lot of it’s just become babble with a new genre made every other day.
E: I think genres were important until like the mid-noughties. Before people had specific scenes. But I think the internet people listen to a much broader range of music and have the freedom to try new stuff.
There also appears to be an emphasis on image with bands today. Would you say there’s a style over substance problem in modern music?
E: We never really had much money for clothes, it mostly went on the bus fare!
R: I actually feel kind of bad about it. I think it’s fairly important for a band to have some kind of image…
E: Yeah, The Hives did it really well, with the suits and different blazers.
R: I don’t really think it matters as much anymore, with people listening to as many different bands as they do now. For example, at a Ramones gig, everyone would turn up in a leather jacket… but that doesn’t really happen as much now, does it?