Drenge didn’t have a very auspicious beginning. The band – two brothers from a tiny English village called Castleton – played their first gig in nearby Sheffield, at what was essentially an open-mic night. “All my friends who said they were coming didn’t turn up,” says frontman Eoin Loveless. “We were just playing in this quite small pub called the Red House. No one was there apart from this space-metal wizard who sat in the corner waiting to go on the stage and then we played for half an hour and then left. And we missed our bus back home so we had to go and get this train which took ages. It was a pretty disastrous first show, really.”
Loveless doesn’t sound too traumatised by the memory. Things have obviously improved, and Drenge have moved on from opening for a “space-metal wizard” to bands like The Cribs and Deap Vally, as well as signing to Infectious for their debut album. They’ve played Glastonbury, where they impressed British politician Tom Watson so much he bizarrely name-checked them in his resignation letter; and Roskilde, where they confused locals by not being Danish in spite of being named after the Danish word for ‘boys’. The name was chosen more for the way it sounded than anything else. “It’s quite nice to have a band name that doesn’t mean anything,” says Loveless, “that doesn’t have any imagery or connotations or anything. Like, it implies something, but it’s not a band name that is really obvious [about] what the band’s gonna sound like.” That said, if ‘drengey’ were an adjective, you could see it fitting the fuzzed-out, punky garage rock Drenge play. Imagine Japandroids crossed with Tumbleweed: being a guitar-and-drums duo, you don’t have much choice but to play garage rock.
The songs themselves don’t matter to Loveless so much as the opportunity to play them. “I get really excited before shows because we’ve got week-long gaps in between them, so I really want to get back to being on stage and playing music again.” He’s impatient for their album to come out, mainly because it’ll give them an excuse to tour again and an audience that knows the songs better. “They’re hearing these songs for the first time if they come and see us live, but they’re kind of, like, dancing along, and there’s this strained expression on their face while they try and understand what’s going on and see if there’s any lyrics they can pick out that get repeated. I’m just excited about when there’s this common ground between the crowd and us. I’m really looking forward to doing shows after people know the album a bit.”
The finale of this album is very different for Drenge – entitled ‘Fuckabout’, it’s a morbid slice-of-life that’s a bit slower and could easily be an Arctic Monkeys album track, with witty observational lyrics like, “When I put the kettle on / You put heavy metal on”. Loveless is looking forward to trying the song out more often. “We don’t play that much because it doesn’t make sense in what we do as a band at the moment but when the album’s out that’ll hopefully make a bit more sense.” Even in the lyrics of the song, he’s self-deprecating about the worth of his music: “This song is a fuckabout / Not one to write home about”. But Loveless isn’t particularly interested in the popularity of his songs beyond giving Drenge more audiences to play for. “I just like doing it because I get to hang out with my brother,” he admits. “I’m not too fussed about taking my own songs out there.”
BY JODY MACGREGOR
Drengeout Friday August 16 through Liberator/Infectious Music.