Dan Luscombe during the recording of Havilah.
I recently had the chance to interview The Drones’ Dan Luscombe via email as they travelled around Australia with the Groovin’ The Moo Festival and their own headlining shows. Since Havilah came out a while ago now I figured I’d avoid questions about the record and instead focus on The Drones’ touring life and what lay ahead in 2009. Read on for thieves in Noosa and Estonian composers.
Sean: Past Drones tours have been known to be a little calamitous at times. How has the Havilah campaign played out so far? Any near death experiences or massive equipment failure?
Dan: Amazingly, we’ve seemed to learn from past mistakes, and have avoided any (unnecessary) fatalities lately. Though having said that, I was recently robbed in the middle of me sleep, in Noosa of all places! I thought I was supposed to be careful in Detroit. Nobody warned me about Noosa.
S: The Drones have been busy touring since just before Havilah came out. Gareth has said the most (all?) of the songs were written acoustically and then fleshed out with the band. Did that pose a challenge when you guys had to take them on the road? Have the new songs have evolved over the course of the tour?
D: No real problems, as such. In Australia we can afford to carry the acoustic guitars around, but overseas we usually have to travel a little lighter, so they tend to get the more calamitous side of the group.
S: Last night in Sydney you guys played two songs off The Miller’s Daughter which pleasantly surprised me. It got me wondering, with such an extensive back catalogue is it difficult deciding what gets played at a given gig? Do you guys have a bunch of songs rehearsed and ready to go?
D: We do, but once we get a good flow happening in the set list, we tend to milk it until somebody gets itchy to do something different. Nailing a good set list is a bit of a trial and error process, and one that nobody wants to go through that often!
S: Is there one song in particular that you look forward to more than others when you see it on the setlist?
D: The last one, whatever that is, because we’re usually pretty pooped by the end of a show. Not because we’re lazy or unfit or anything. Mostly because we throw our all into the show. As far as an actual favourite goes, I’ve been enjoying strapping on the acoustic for “Acting’s like the End of the World”. It makes me feel refined!
S: The Drones seem to be one of a relatively small bunch of Australian bands that has managed to find success overseas. What’s been the most integral part of this? Regular touring of Europe and North America? Really supportive overseas labels? Or maybe just four stellar albums?
D: All of these factors combined, and then flogged within an inch of their life!
S: You guys are heading over to Europe soon to play a bunch of shows including some with Snowman, another favourite of mine. They’ve currently relocated themselves to the UK which seems to be a growing trend amongst Australian bands. Has there every been any discussion/temptation/pressure for you to do the same?
D: It’s always an idea, but we seem to spend so much time abroad that it’s almost become unnecessary. Plus everybody starts to miss friends and family after a while. We figure we’ve got a fairly decent balance happening these days.
S: I’m always keen to hear what musicians are listening to. Are there a few records (new or old) that you’re currently really into?
D: I’ve been listening to lots of Arvo Part. He’s an Estonian composer. Very minimal, generally soothing stuff. He’s a perfect antidote to the ringing in my ears at the end of a night’s work.
S: Other than the upcoming European tour, do The Drones have any other plans for the rest of the year?
D: More U.S, more Europe, and Gaz and I are touring here with Augie March in a couple of months. Next year, we take some time off to establish some semblance of normality.
S: Thanks for the time! Hope to see you guys again soon.
D: No wukkin’ furries.
Photo courtesy Daniel at Baker Street Photography. He’s got a great gallery of shots he took during the recording process of Havilah.
And how about a live cover of Neil Young?
The Drones – Cortez the Killer (live)