– by Maggie Bochat
Ten years ago, Australian rock legends The Drones released their second album; Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By, which won them the 2005 Australian Music Prize.
To celebrate the anniversary, The Drones are touring Australia, performing the songs that gave them critical acclaim.
I spoke to drummer Christian Strybosch about the tour, long neck beers and the band’s new album.
M: Who came up with the idea of a tour?
C: Me. I did. (laughs) No no no. We were invited to play Vivid Live at the Sydney Opera House, which was fantastic…It coincided with the tenth anniversary of the release of Wait Long…, so we played most of the songs off that record. It went really well; it was great actually. Our new album is probably not going to come out till late in the year, so why not take this around and celebrate it with other people in every state of Australia… except for Tassie [Tasmania]. We’re really sorry Tassie.
M: Why didn’t Tassie get included? Too much travel?
C: No, not at all! I don’t know what happened there actually…maybe it’s too cold. It’s freezing in Melbourne so god knows what it’s like in Tassie.
M: What can we expect from the tour?
C: You can expect…how many of us are in the band? 4? 5? You can expect 4…5…whoever rocks up anyway – of the most professional musicians in the world, gracing the stage of various venues around Australia. (laughs) No, you can expect to have a good time. Hopefully. Whether we can deliver that or not is the next question.
M: I’m sure they will. Has your sound evolved much from the first album?
C: It has evolved a lot but there is still what I call the Gaz-ness. Gaz .. [vocalist/guitarist Gareth Liddiard]; has fairly unique songwriting.They’re all still Gaz’s songs, or he’ll bring a structure to the song and the band fleshes it out from there. On this new album that’s about to come out there’s some electronics, elements of hip hop – the good bits. But it’s still got that Gaz-ness there; the essence of Gaz. Maybe he should start his own little fragrance line. The Essense of Gaz. (laughs)
M: So The ‘Essense of Gaz’ is a current that runs throughout all of the music that fans old and new can always recognize?
C: I think so. [The song writing] is the thing that attracted me when I had that first jam in Richmond with guys I hardly knew. They were playing those songs like nothing I’ve ever heard before. That’s still there and I think that’s what excites me, and speaking to the other guys in the band that’s what excites them too. It’s just not your normal 4 on the 4 rock and roll songs; chorus, verse, you know? There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a uniqueness that Gaz has with his song writing and hopefully new fans are going to come along and recognize that and enjoy it. The old ones – they love that shit too. (laughs)
M: Can you tell me a more about that first jam in Richmond with what is now The Drones?
C: At the time I had been playing around with a bunch of bands, great rock and roll bands. I was looking for something a bit different. My twin brother Nicolas came across an ad for a rock and roll band that needed a drummer. Normally [the description] was all Kiss and Rolling Stones, but this ad mentioned Gun Club and all sorts of jazz shit. I thought ‘Wow, I have to ring these guys and see what the hell this is going to sound like.’ I went and had a jam with Gaz and a few other guys. My first experience with the Gaz-ness. I think he had a long neck as he did back in those days, a few long necks before dinner. We got a long straight away.
M: Oh! Long neck beers? I thought you meant he literally had a long neck. (laughs)
C: (laughs) He does have a long neck and he likes long necks! They go hand in hand. Doesn’t everyone in WA just drink long necks? Is that what you do? That’s what they tell me…
M: Can you give us any more details on the new album or is it a bit secretive?
C: Not secret at all! We are just putting the finishing touches. We don’t want to rush it so maybe we’ll get it out towards the end of the year. It’s got quite a few shorter, popier songs, and some electronic beats. There’s a song that’s under 17 minutes, so that’s something different for the band (laughs).
M: So drums aren’t the only instrument you’re fluent in?
C: I’m not fluent in drums! I’m an absolute hack. Any more equipment I can add to my set up is great. Not just looking at drums and crashing lights and things I can flick on and off. Just some electronic stuff – a sampler, triggering some sounds on the snare and quick drum. But to be honest, I’m a simple guy. I drink beer, play the drums and go home.
The Drones play at The Rosemount Hotel on Saturday, August the 22nd.
Photo Credit: Isadora Jarosek