Fusing a high-energy punk rock sound with anti-political messages that aim to right failings in modern society is always going to be a hit, as London’s Drones are finding out. Indeed, we caught up with lead singer Lois McDougall on the eve of the band setting out to tour Germany and the Netherlands later this week.
The quintet, which is completed by Tim Kramer and Rob King (guitars), James Kerr (bass) and Mitchell Thomas (drums) have been playing as a band for a few years now. But Lois and Tim, who the former tells us were teenage friends who hung out drinking cider in parks, only joined last year.
They bring an intriguing message which, according to their Facebook page, is all about ‘bringing politics to the forefront of music.’ But Lois is quick to put that straight, telling us: “I don’t think it’s so much about ‘politics.’ I really dislike that word. I mean, it’s not what we’re talking about at all really. I’m not trying to get you to vote for a particular party or person. The album is almost anti-political in a sense. It’s about being free from restraints that we have built for ourselves – an existence that revolves around a human design consisting of born power and stature. Essentially, Exiled is about just learning to show empathy and remembering that we’re all human, and are equally deserving, unless our actions prove otherwise.”
As Lois alludes to, the band just released their excellent new album Exiled, which the band began writing after being struck by the misery of the European refugee crisis. Some of the songs are written from the perspectives of fictional characters of those impacted by the crisis, and others of those who prefer to distance themselves from it.
“Millions of people are suffering every day and it’s a subject that should be kept at the forefront of all of our minds. Music is a great platform for personal connection. We’ve taken a subject that can so easily be viewed as a distant-seeming ‘world-issue’ and tried to make it more personal. In doing so, we hope that people may feel more compassion for the victims and that those suffering may find an ounce of comfort in these songs. Exiled is dedicated to those fleeing any war-torn country.”
Political – or anti-political – messages aside, the album is packed with high-energy, fierce punk rock angst. It starts with a bang with opening track For Those Who Care., which launches into fast-paced vocals supported by then a cry of “We are the age of change, acceptance is the only way that we know leads into a singalong chorus of “Your freedom is a liberty that you’re taking for granted… Stop closing your eyes when the truth gets too bright.” The second verse ups the intensity with palm-muted chords before launching into another big chorus. And that sets the tone for the album.
A big punky cry kicks off the next track Inferno, giving way to a barrage of driving guitar chords then a fun vocal-led verse, then a singalong chorus “They’re burning down the jungle to make way for the saints, Unite against hostility, Tear down the pearly gates, Force feed their own medicine, So the sickheads of this world, Light this torch, Call out the renegades.” Check it out in the video below:
While the lyrics “What are we voting for when all the problems stays the same, Why are we wasting our time when these hands can’t make the change… This system’s broken” in the second verse of Territories succinctly hammer home the point of the album.
We’re loving this album, with its fusion of angsty vocals with big riffs and driving drums – what’s not to love? And, when asked how it’s gone down with people, Lois told us: “Absolutely insane. It’s been incredibly well received. We’ve had so many people coming out the woodwork thanking us for making this album. I’m so excited about things to come from it, and how far it can be spread.”
The band embark on the four show German and Dutch tour on Saturday (7 April), on which Lois tells us: “Drones as a unit have played Europe before but it’s my first time! I can’t wait. I haven’t been to Germany since I was young. I’m excited to practice my German speaking. Wo ist mein Kaninchen?… I still got it.” More info on their upcoming gigs is here.
Lois, who tells us she’s been an emo since the day she fell in love with Dashboard Confessional when she was 12, explains the band has been an influenced by a wide range of artists and styles. She said: “I think it’s hard to tell who your influences are because we’re all influenced by various occurrences in our day to day life. I listen to different music depending on my mood, and sometimes I don’t want to listen to anything. My ideas and perceptions change on a daily basis so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what songs/artist/ideas have influenced me.”
After touring Europe the band will be putting together more videos for the album tracks then touring the UK, including making an appearance at Manchester Punk Festival at the end of April.
Lois adds: “We’re here for you. That sounds so cheesy, but we’re just people who want to help others and have fun playing the music that we do. If anyone wants to chat, come and see us at a show. We’re happy to talk.”