Undeniably one of the country’s most profiled and relentlessly busy bands over the past decade, the Drones, are currently celebrating the tenth anniversary of their second album, Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By. Released in April of 2005, the album garnered massive national and international fame for the young Melbourne four-piece. Now ten years on, the Drones are pleased to celebrate the album’s daring history with a first time on vinyl reissue and a national tour playing the album in full. Jake Wilton nervously got on the yapper with drummer Christian Strybosch to chat about the album’s legacy, introspection and the Drones’ seventh studio album.
How do you think the album has aged over the years?
Good question. Generally, I think it’s aged well. I personally, think we’re all having fun playing the songs – that’s why we’re doing this tour. It started off by Vivid Live inviting us to do the one show at the Opera House but went so well we thought we’d hit the other states.
So was it Vivid’s idea?
Yeah, I’m not exactly sure who enacted what first but we were invited to play as a part of the Vivid Live bill for the tenth anniversary of Wait Long… We all said, “Oh shit, has it been ten years?” We all thought the show went really well so we decided to bring it around the country… Sorry Tassie.
What’s it like coming back to these songs in a live context?
For me it’s a little bit of déjà vu because I left the band just before it was released so I never really got a chance to tour it properly around the country. To be doing it, ten years later, is pretty much picking up where I left off ten years ago.
How do you think some of the song’s meanings have held up? Have you, or any other members, taken different interpretations from them?
When Gaz [Gareth Liddiard, vocals and guitar] first bought these songs to the band ten years ago and we started tracking them, I didn’t really listen to the lyrics as much as I probably should have. I have no idea what he’s going on about half the time – still don’t, let’s face it. Gaz and I have really good communication, non-verbal communication, going on where we’re just riffing off each other. So to actually come back and listen to the album after ten years it was pretty… interesting for me to reinterpret the songs. It’s some pretty good writing for someone in their late-teens-early-twenties. Maybe if I had listened to the lyrics back then I would have said, “Cheer up, Gaz.”
These are some really special songs, especially to some people. I think Gaz has a way of connecting with people through his words and a lot of them are really important to some people. Hopefully I don’t fuck them up.
Coming with the reissue of Wait Long… is a whole double record of live tracks dating all the way back to 2001 through to 2008. Was it a little weird to unearth, listen, mix and master these live tracks after so long?
Some of the stuff I didn’t even know existed and others we did but thought it had been lost. It’s just awesome to listen back to this material and realize that we’ve got this incredible documented timeline of the band’s live history. Most of it’s really bloody good, too.
Okay enough with introspection; let’s look to the future. Your new record, still in the works or is it done and dusted?
It’s pretty much ready to go, it’s all mastered and mixed. We’re just looking for some interest overseas to bring it out. We don’t want to push the button until we’ve got the worldwide distribution ready to go. It’s going to be a really interesting record this one. To keep ourselves interested in the band we can’t just keep playing four-on-the-floor rock ‘n’ roll, bass-and-drum, guitar stuff so there’s a lot of new electronic stuff coming on the record. We played one song from it at the Opera House and that seemed to go down pretty well.
My favourite Drones record is I See Seaweed because is has the dynamism of the slow and fast paced tracks. Does this new record still contain that naturalistic flow even with these electronic elements included?
Yeah, of course. It really comes down to Gaz’s songwriting and that’s what compelled me to join the band in the ‘90s because it could go from playing nothing to everyone smashing their guitars and playing as loud as possible. But it wasn’t just for the sake of it because underneath all the crazy shit was some fucking awesome songs that we love playing. The songs are still there we’ve just reinterpreted them depending on the instruments we’re using at the time. That fundamental “Gaz-ness” of the Drones is still there but it’s just an evolution. We like to evolve and I think the Drones have on every single album. To be in the band when Wait Long… was recorded to leaving and coming back for the I See Seaweed tour, it really was an evolution of the band and this is the next progression. We can’t just play Shark Fin [Blues] every night… Even though we’re playing it on this tour.
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Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Float By is available on deluxe double 180g vinyl now via thedrones.com.au.