Sheffield garage-rock duo, Drenge, have been rising in popularity over the past year. For two guys, they make a lot of noise and know how to get a crowd moving; their sound has been frequently compared to The Black Keys and The White Stripes. The band recently received widespread media attention when they were recommended to Ed Miliband in Tom Watson’s resignation letter.
Ian asked them some questions about music and a certain politician’s taste in music.
The music press seems to love calling you the ‘English Black Keys’, do you think it’s accurate or are you just getting it for being a two-piece?
I think it’s a bit half and half really, obviously there’s a blues-rock element to our sound but I don’t think we write songs the same way as The Black Keys…and they’ve changed their sound quite a bit over their career as well. But yeah, we are a two-piece, and that’s quite striking. It’s the first thing a lot of people will pick up on.
Is the ‘two-piece sound’ something that you’re afraid of losing on your debut album, or as your career progresses?
Not really, no. I mean, we started doing this for fun, just seeing what we could do between the two of us. But we’d love to evolve the way we write songs, and adding in extra instruments and that kind of thing might happen with it.
Sorry, we’ve got to ask…are you at all worried about Tom Watson having publically declared himself a fan? Its potential impact on your public image, for example?
I don’t know, does it really bring anything to our image? I mean, it’s like saying that anyone else likes your band. I mean, if you come to some of our shows, you’ll see that it’s a fairly varied audience.
Are you at all worried that the attention Tom Watson has brought you may have given ‘bad exposure’ at a key point in your career?
Ermm….I don’t know, I don’t really think about that kind of thing. I just carry on with what we’re doing, don’t really consider myself with any sort of trajectory or anything.
At your gigs, you do always seem to have a very close fan-band relationship; for example the ‘Drenge Evening Express’ made by yourselves and fans. Do you think Tom Watson was/is involved in that community?
I don’t know, it’s difficult to say. I mean, it’s great when you play gigs to like a bunch of 15 year olds kids and they just go mental at the front and you really pick the energy up off that, you’re kind of probably less aware of the people who are stood at the back just bobbing along to the music. I mean, I didn’t really recognise any faces at that Glastonbury gig, I had no idea that Tom Watson was there.
You’ve been gigging and touring relentlessly for a long time now, do you think that’s starting to pay off with people paying attention to you now the debut’s coming out?
Yeah, I hope so. We’ve slowly been getting large crowds in large places, people have been picking up on the tunes, that kind of thing…erm…yeah, definitely, it can’t have hindered it in any way! It’ll be great to go back to these places we’ve been touring for the last 7 months and play a show when they’ve heard the album and maybe learnt a few words, that kind of thing.
One last question, last time we talked to you, you recommended Sheffield’s home beer, Deception. I was wondering if you could recommend us any other beers that Drenge enjoy?
Anymore beer… hmm…does it have to be from Sheffield?
No, no. I mean, Impact is a Nottingham magazine, so anything near the East Midlands would be nice…
Okay, there’s this place in Derbyshire called ‘Three Stags’ Heads’ which is only open on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it serves this beer which is from the same brewery as Deception. The beer’s called ‘Black Lurcher’ and the pub is totally bizarre. A lurcher is like a cross between a grey-hound and a collie.
Drenge’s debut album arrives on the 19th August, after which they will embark on a UK tour across September and October. The duo will play Nottingham’s Bodega on 12th October. Before that, see them at a series of festivals during the summer.
…Ian has been listening to Benga Benga – ‘Ajukaja’…