Eoin Loveless is feeling the effects of a big one. The 22-year-old guitarist is at his girlfriend’s house, having only recently woken up, and it’s not that hard to imagine him, bleary-eyed and messy-haired, running over the events of the night before in his mind and coming to terms with the realities of the hungover world around him.
It’s not that hard, either, to square this image of Eoin Loveless with his musical output. Along with his brother Rory, he makes up Drenge, one of the UK’s most celebrated young bands. Their music is hard, dirty, droney, grimy, grungy, scuzzy and bluesy, coloured in with the most basic rock instrumentation.
At this point in time, Drenge find themselves in a funny position. Though their attitude and general demeanour suggests they shrug off attention, the siblings find themselves the focus of plenty – from booking agents, from journalists, from detractors on the internet… the list goes on. “It’s fine when people are coming to shows and buying records and stuff,” Eoin says of life in the spotlight, his voice cracking a bit. “That’s all really great. But then you have the weird part, the negative attention that the internet can bring, which really isn’t so nice.”
“I have a friend who rounds up all the negative tweets about us, about our personalities and the way we look, and sends them over in massive batches. Every morning, I get ten or 15 negative tweets, and they just grow week on week; that’s a very odd thing. Your private life seems to slowly unravel.” Are the brothers ever tempted to bite back? “I guess so,” Loveless says, “but we’ve seen it happen to a lot of people before. It’s just a natural human impulse to want to have a go at something. I guess I’m probably just as bad for complaining about it. It’s still weird to think of all this directed at us, though.”
The name Drenge comes from a slightly mangled pronunciation of the Danish word for ‘boys’. It’s a name that can be taken fairly literally, thanks to Eoin and Rory’s tender age. Given they have grown up under the same roof and now play in a band together, I ask Eoin if the songwriting is any easier, or if the natural brotherly impulse to fight and compete makes things difficult. “Because we know each other so well, we’re able to cut through a lot of the bullshit and just get on with it,” he says. “I do take pride in that; the fact that we’re able to work together so easily.”
“We argue about things because we both have strong opinions,” Loveless continues, “but we always find a way to make it work. We’re a lot more confident because we’re able to talk to each other honestly and not get too personal or too bogged down in silly stuff.” With that in mind, though, there are a few key differences that set the brothers apart. “I think Rory has much better taste in music than I do,” Eoin laughs, “and a completely different idea of what makes a good track. When we write songs it’s just a case of balancing that, as well as trying to make the songs sound as good as they can. Ultimately, when we’re writing together, the main consideration is that we only write music that we’d really want to play live, or that we think people would really want to hear.”
There’s a rough and raw quality to Drenge’s music – their songs are about as unpolished as can be, although according to Loveless, this extremely basic approach suits them just fine. “I did some recording with a couple of friends a couple of weeks ago, and they were really amazed by the fact that I didn’t know how to use Pro Tools or any other really simple recording software,” he says with a laugh. “All the songs are written really simply to be played live, that’s the most important thing, and recording them is just a way of documenting that, maybe with a little bit of embellishment. We’ve always written as a live band and thought of ourselves as a live band.”
The lyrical subject matter of Drenge’s songs is equally plain, with a general theme of young people fucking about and getting into trouble in a dreary English backwater town. Loveless explains that they try to write as simply and honestly as possible, using only influences from their real lives and observations.
“To be honest, most of the songs just come from walking the streets. It’s like, if you were to go into a dodgy pub and get a drink and then just sit down and watch everything happening around you, talk to people – those are the kinds of things that really inspire us. I don’t write about any real people necessarily, but I build the lyrics based on my observations. I like them to be quite visual and image-based.”
While there’s obviously a negative side to the growing fame – not least of all the opinions of various Twitter tossers – the upsides of breaking out certainly outweigh the downs. The past 18 months have given the Loveless boys their fair share of exciting moments, and I ask Eoin if there’s one particular experience that stands out, one moment that made him realise it was all coming true. “We played to a pretty wild crowd at Reading Festival last year,” he says. “The most exciting part is that there were two mosh pits, side by side. I’ve never actually seen that before, and it was really crazy to be able to watch that from the front, from a performer’s perspective instead of an audience one. That’s one of those moments where you think, ‘Yeah, wow.’”
Speaking of new experiences, Drenge will soon be making their first trip to Australia, and are about as excited as two youngsters who are about to jet off to a far corner of the world can be. “We really, really can’t wait to make it down there. We’ve not got much time to spare, but we have a few days off in between Laneway and the sideshows we’re doing. There’s a lot of flying involved, of course. Thankfully, because we’re playing a festival, we get a lot of time on the day to relax and see some other bands when we’re not playing, which is great.”
Loveless can’t quite predict what Drenge’s live show will involve come Laneway, however. “We’ll probably be drenched in a lot of sweat, because I imagine it will be very hot in Australia!” he says. “We’ll probably just be big sweaty messes for a lot of it. I don’t know apart from that. I feel like we get stronger as a band the more shows we play, so I feel like by the time we get to Laneway, we’ll be even better than we are already. I’m honestly really excited to be coming down – I never expected anything like this to ever be happening for us. I didn’t think that we’d get big enough that we could actually get down to Australia.”
Drenge play withThe Creases atGoodgod Small Club onTuesday February 4, but you can also check them out at Laneway Festival at Sydney College of the Arts on Sunday February 2. Their albumDrengeisout now through Liberator/Infectious.