The Leeds’ art-punk/post punk trio Drahla, made of Luciel Brown (vocals, guitar & bass); Rob Riggs (vocals, guitar, bass & keys) and Mike Ainsley (vocals & drums), already captured our attention with their recent beautiful debut 7” ‘Fictional Decision’ on the glorious German indie label A Turntable Friend Records, but the forthcoming new single titled ‘Faux Text’, out at the end of April via the Too Pure Single Club, is even hotter.
The band’s compelling blend of DIY post-punk freshness and urgency and 90’s fuzzy noise sharpness is flavoured by the introduction of such an amazing sultry saxophone, played by Christopher Duffin, I haven’t heard since the early John Foxx’s Ultravox! days, that makes the recipe even more appealing.
“Is it real? Is it real?” talks/sings Lu throughout the song, yes it’s real and cool as f**k’!
Thanks so much for the interview. Please, let’s talk about the genesis of Drahla. How did you meet ? What attracted you? Who were your biggest influences that drove you to form a band and how did you come up with your name?
Rob (R): I saw Lu in a bar, we were both playing in separate bands at the time and I thought I have to have her, she is beautiful, so I took one of her rings from her finger and she has been mine ever since. A similar story with Mike really, except I saw him and thought how did his tooth turn so dark, I need to know.
Lu (L): The name derived from an old solo project of mine, I’d never written much under it so we used it for this project, it seemed fitting. Regarding us getting together I wouldn’t say it’s influences that resulted in us forming a band, more so just having it as an alter outlet to be creative/expressive, which probably has something to do with the sound we’ve created.
When you look back at your childhood/teenage years, do you remember when and where you started to get passionate about music and what were your early sources of artistic inspirations?
R: In primary school I use to get out of class by going down to the church to play the organ, I was pretty mesmerised by its sound, even just pressing one key and looking at a gargoyle was enough to arouse creative thoughts.
L: I always found Spike Milligan and Edward Lear interesting as a child, the freedom and humour within their poetry has always stuck with me.
Mike (M): For me it was seeing this guitar in the spare bedroom at my Grandad’s house. I was never aloud to touch or even get it out of its case. When I turned 12 I guess I was deemed worthy of having it and never looked back from there. I’ve been one track minded about being in a band since I was a child.
The band is Leeds-based. Have you been influenced, if not musically, by the DIY independent attitude of late 70’s/early 80’s legendary Leeds’ bands as The Mekons, Gang Of Four and Delta 5? Is still there an underground local musical community/scene are you part of? Could you recommend any bands?
L: It feels quite ignorant to say but I haven’t listened to Delta 5 or The Mekons, Gang Of Four are great but I wouldn’t say their an immediate source of influence. As for the scene in Leeds, we’re pretty new to it still but there seems to be a lot of good stuff happening, there’s a DIY space called Chunk that we’ve played at, they get some great bands on there. As for bands, we’ve been playing with Mush a bit, they’re really something, I’d definitely recommend them.
R: Not so much the bands mentioned above but definitely a lot of bands from the same era, Swell Maps, Magazine and The Monochrome Set have influenced us greatly.
What is your working/writing process like? Do the musical ideas always come first? Or is it bits and pieces of possible lyrics that eventually lead to composing a new track?
R: Sometimes it’s by chance, a note played wrong, improvisation or impulse.
L: Each song is pretty different, Rob and I swap instruments and that changes the writing process quite a bit. Lyrics wise for me I always have stuff I’ve written prior to the music that linger in the background until I think they’d fit.
I noticed that, like many, 2016 has been a harsh year for you too (you mentioned ‘havoc’ and ‘loss’). Does your lyrics writing come from personal life experiences?
R: Yeah but It’s not something I realize immediately, it’s usually retrospectively. Melody is the first thing I think about and then words will enter my subconscious, sometimes they make sense others they don’t.
L: I’d say so, but also sometimes not so personal, more observational.
The initially released two split singles contained a kind of synthpop sound, how would you describe your ongoing sound? Do you already have any sensations, hints about further possible developments of it?
L: They were just solo tracks recorded at home, they’re completely separate to what were doing now, just confusingly under the same moniker.
On March 17th your single ‘Fictional Decision/Dog Collar Guillotine’ will be physically released on ltd. 7” format through an old glorious German indie label that every indie aficionado knows very well, A Turntable Friend Records. It was produced by your fellow Loiner and Hookworms frontman MJ. Please, could you talk about it?
R: It’s was a total pleasure to work with MJ, we love him, he is such a talented wizard. We didn’t discuss too much with him regarding sound, he just seemed to know.
M: I second what Riggs say’s. It was a pleasure and felt comfortable from the get go recording with MJ. Ulrich (A Turntable Friends Records) got in touch and we were largely ignorant of his history before then. It’s an amazing feeling when someone has faith enough in the music you make to want to help you put it out there.
L: I third the above.
You’re a hard-working live band and already played with cult legends as Rose McDowall and The Buzzcocks and excellent young bands like Public Access T.V., Slowcoaches and Amber Arcades, do you still remember you first gig? Which have been your live highlights so far?
R: Our first gig was one of our highlights. We’d been writing and rehearsing for almost six months so we had it all pent up inside and nobody had any preconceptions.
M: The first show was ace at the Red Shed in Wakefield. My favorite so far would have to be the Menace Beach gig we played a few weeks back at the Brudenell Social Club. We’ve played The Brude a few times now and it’s always a pleasure but that night in particular it kinda felt like something ‘took off’ more on stage…if that makes any sense?!?
L: We put on our own show a few months ago in an old office block in Wakefield ‘Drahla with Smut’, that was pretty special, I want to do more shows of our own in the same vein.
R: Yeah that was pretty spectacular, we had an old 1970’s porno flick projected on the wall behind us.
On March 17th (the same day of your record release!), you’ll play at The Continental in Preston along Mick Shepherd supporting Oskar’s Drum, is it going to be your first time in Preston? What do you expect from it and what we have to expect from your live performance?
R: Yeah it will be our first show in Preston, we were meant to play with Rose McDowall but Lu got sick so we had to pull out, so it will be good to finally play, unless one of us gets sick.
M: I’ve played in Preston a couple of times with old bands at The Ferret and 53 degrees but never The Continental so it’s gonna be cool to play a different stage in the city.
Could you pick any favourite bands/artists are you excited by recently?
R: As mentioned earlier, by coincidence we have been billed multiple times alongside Mush, who are from Leeds and are really fucking good. I’ve been pretty obsessed with German painter Georg Baselitz over the past few months.
L: We’ve all been listening to Omni quite a bit, they’re great.
Many thanks for being our welcome guests, just the last question : your hopes and plans for the near future?
R: Hopefully we’ll get asked to do more shows, get our tracks played on national radio, make a load of money and finally retire to Japan.
M: I love the song writing process and I love hearing it recorded. So my mind is always thinking about what we might do next. But yeah, playing shows is also awesome. A gig a night for me please!
L: I haven’t really thought about what’s next to be honest, we’ve got more songs in the pipeline that I’m really excited about and want to finish, we’re filming a video this weekend for ‘Faux Text’ too. Maybe a few more self curated shows, we’ll see.
Photo credits: JJ (1st one)