Camden Rocks this year was brimming with up and coming bands, including punk rock five-piece Drones. After a recent shift in band members we were keen to find out how things were going, so we caught up with drummer Mitchell Thomas and new members Lois McDougall (vocals) and Tim Kramer (guitar) to see what they had to say about the new, revamped line up, and what punk means to them.
Hi guys! So this is your first Camden Rocks Festival with the new line up, how did the set go?
Mitch: Really fucking good! We were a bit daunted about having to open the festival at 12:00 midday, we were like is it gonna be dead? And then when we were sound checking we looked out the window and saw the big queue of people waiting to get in, so we were stoked by that.
Lois: I was really nervous because I’ve got a bit of a throat infection going on but I think we smashed it, almost…
Tim: You bloody smashed it!
L: I got about 5 songs in and was like, [weird screechy noise] I sound like a horse! It was really fun though, we just kind of went for it anyway. I hope they enjoyed it.
I’m sure they did. So, you’ve had a change of line up recently – Lois and Tim, you guys are new to the band – how did that come about?
M: So when our old singer left we needed a singer and a guitarist and we found Lois through mutual friends and she absolutely smashed it in the audition, well, I wouldn’t call it an audition but you know, the first practice, but obviously we needed another guitarist, and we also found Tim through mutual friends, and when he turned up at the first practice I was like, I know that guy…I got fucked with him at a party in December! [Laughs] It was completely coincidental.
So Lois and Tim, you guys have been in bands before, but was it nerve-wracking to join a band that was already established?
L: Yes. It was quite nerve-wracking for me replacing a guy who had a quite aggressive voice as well, like, just replacing a guy is quite nerve-wracking anyway, when people know the band already and they know the songs and they sort of don’t know what to expect. I mean, for starters, when a vocalist is replaced, people are naturally a bit nervous about it, but I think the fact that [Daly George, previous vocalist] was replaced with a girl as well made people a bit more nervous, but I think people warmed to it. Obviously it’s quite nerve-wracking releasing the new track, I think some people were a bit taken aback and like, oh, this is quite different, but I think quite a lot of people were surprised in a good way.
We guess whenever you change vocalist it’s kind of a new sound.
L: Yeah, and I’m under the impression that it doesn’t matter if it’s a girl or a guy, who gives a shit, but I mean, naturally my voice does sound a lot different to Daly’s, so it is gonna sound different, but yeah. I think it’s a good change.
T: Change is good, change is good. Evolution, baby!
L: It’s given the band more energy I think, which is what was needed, by the sounds of things.
So you think people are reacting well to the new track, Parasite?
T: It’s been a strong response and people really seem to be digging the tune and the new direction.
M: We were kind of, not worried about the response, but we were just keen to see what people would think. We thought there might be a lot of backlash just because with any change in a band there’s always a bit of backlash but actually, 99% of it has been really positive, there’s a lot of positive vibes coming our way, so it’s great.
What about the writing process, did it feel quite natural or a bit strange to come together as a new line up?
T: I think it felt quite natural, it was quite refreshing I think, just being able write in the rehearsal room, and it just instantly kind of gelled, you know? There was no kind of hesitance, and we’re all really competent writers as well, we all know our shit really well.
M: With new members it’s nice having someone put different flavours into the mix as well, for a fresh sound.
So is there anything else that you’re working on, any upcoming releases?
T: Oh, it’s top secret.
Not even a snippet?
T: We’ve got like six albums which, you know, we’re just gonna keep to ourselves [laughs].
L: Yeah, we’ve been writing an album a day.
T: No, no, I think now tour’s over, we’ve spent a lot of time kind of focusing on tour, now that’s kind of out of the way we’re just gonna knuckle down, get writing, we’ve obviously got the show at the Roundhouse coming up in July but we’ve got a bit of time between now and then just to kind of settle things and get writing.
L: We’ve got a lot of ideas floating about so we need to kind of collate those and shove ‘em into a record.
T: A song or some kind of CD thing.
So the gig at the Roundhouse that’s coming up, that’s the Punk Weekender, right? What does punk mean to you?
M: I don’t think it’s even necessarily a music thing, I think it’s about standing up for yourself, your beliefs, being individual, yeah, not serving the man necessarily. I don’t think for one minute that it’s about a loud of blokes with mohawks walking around with patched jackets, which people seem to think it is. So people see you’re a punk band and they turn up to a show and they go, why aren’t you like the Sex Pistols?
They don’t understand the nuances and many forms of punk…
M: Absolutely, I think it’s pretty much a belief thing rather than just a music genre.
Anything to add, guys?
T: What Mitch said was pretty good, I mean, it’s just totally about standing up for what you believe in, end of. And being… gangster.
L: And being a badass. Being a badass but also standing up for what you believe in.
That seems like a legit definition. So for anybody who is new to Drones, why should they check you out?
L: … because we are badass.
T: Dunno, I wouldn’t bother… nah, I’m joking.
Come on, big yourselves up!
M: Erm… without sounding like an arsehole?
T: Because you get to see this pretty mug play on stage [pointing to Mitch], that’s why!
M: We always put 100% energy in to our live show. It’s all about the live show, there’s no point just standing there with a guitar and a microphone, we wanna try and have a party. Also in our lyrics, a lot of them are quite socio-political as well, there’s a lot of depth to the songs, so I think if you read the lyrics, the messages are in there as well.
Mitch, do you write the lyrics yourself?
M: Daley wrote the original lyrics, we kind of collaborated on them, but the original singer did write the old lyrics and now Lois writes the new lyrics.
So is that’s something that’s important for you, Lois, getting in the political aspect?
L: Yeah, I mean it’s quite a new thing for me. In my old band it was more just whatever the hell’s going on in my life, like, ooh I’m sad, I’ve had a relationship break up, ooh I’m happy, I’m in a relationship. There was loads of stuff I wrote about, like friendships and just general life. Having joined a punk band, naturally it tends to be more about, you know, like-
M: There are personal songs in there.
L: Yeah, and the stuff that I’ve written so far for Drones I feel like is more, my political stances and where I stand with environmental issues and stuff. I think it’s just natural for that to happen with lyrics, it’s just things that tick you off, something that you wanna shout about. Vent. That’s all it’s ever really been, it’s just venting about stuff. It’s probably because I’m pretty happy in my personal life now as well, so that’s a nice change, I can focus on other people.
Cool! Well you said you’re taking time off to write, so hopefully we can expect some new stuff in the works.
T: Sooner than you think.
That’s a clue, that! Is there anything else you guys would like to talk about? Wanna big yourselves up some more?
M: We’re fucking great. Come see us at Roundhouse, July 9th.
L: There’s loads of awesome punk bands. Lots of brutality.
M: Check out Screech Bats as well!
We will! Thanks very much guys.
Interview by: Alice Hudson