Armed with beat up leather jackets, pints of beer, and charming “we don’t really give a shit” attitudes, it seems as though Drowners were receiving attention the very moment they picked up their instruments. Smiths comparisons abound for the New York-based band, whose EP Between Us Girls came out on Birthday Records a couple weeks back. Singer Matt Hitt, a bloke from Wales who made a face for himself by fronting campaigns for the likes of Band of Outsiders, may have entire websites dedicated to how attractive he is, but the urge to make any model-come-musician quips falls by the wayside as soon as you listen to their music. In fact, Hitt has precisely what it takes to ensure these fellows make good on all the hype they’ve received.
BULLETT is delighted to present the North American premier of Drowners’ video, “You’ve Got It All Wrong.” Directed by their pal Pete Voelker, the video depicts an idyllic, carefree evening in the East Village, wildly appropriate, as hanging in East Village dives is undoubtedly the band’s favorite pastime. But first, a hilarious and charming chat (over beers, of course) with Matt Hitt, guitarist Jack Ridley, and bassist Erik Snyder.
How did you all meet?
JACK RIDLEY: Mutual friends I guess and going out in downtown New York. I’m a bartender, so that got me together with some of these people.
You’re a bartender and they’re drinkers.
MATT HITT: Yeah, that’s about it.
JACK: Everyone finds each other at the pub.
What do The Drowners sound like?
ERIK SNYDER: It’s like punk at its most pop without being pop punk.
Popish punk but not pop punk.
ERIK: Yes, we stay away from saying pop and punk together. They’re dangerous words.
MATT: It’s almost “friendly post-punk.”
I know Jack and Matt are both in other bands. Is it a challenge to balance both projects?
JACK: Actually, it’s shockingly easy.
MATT: I personally have a lot of free time.
What is your songwriting process like?
MATT: Go in my room, write some chords, consult my notebook of backdated lyrics and then practice. It’s a lot of fat-trimming in the interim.
I would say you’re in a sense a quintessentially East Village band.
MATT: How dare you!
MATT: I suppose geographically it’s accurate, as we don’t really stray much from these 10 blocks, but I don’t know if it’s representative of a sound thing.
ERIK: I mean, I guess a little bit, historically there’s CBGB’s, Max’s Kansas City…
Matt, why did you move to New York?
MATT: I love John Cale, and he moved to New York.
What do you guys listen to?
MATT: There’s a crossover with all of us of punk, particularly of the melodic variety. Today we listened to Squeeze, The Saints…
ERIK: Generation X.
Have you been at all surprised by the amount of media attention you guys have received despite the fact that you haven’t released much music?
MATT: I have not been surprised one bit! I am surprised that it got picked up by radio in Britain. It’s kind of hard to judge your own work, so maybe you don’t realize that people might like it.
I guess that’s the hope. Let’s talk about the video. Is this an accurate depiction of your New York lives?
MATT: I mean, the bit that we’re in, we’re in a bar, so it’s pretty accurate. We spend a lot of time outside at night, so that bit is accurate. Our mate Pete made it and our mates are in it.
What do you do for fun?
JACK: Skateboard, draw pictures, ride a bicycle, go to Whole Foods. I have been swimming.
MATT: Drink beer. Click refresh on Facebook.
ERIK: Lie in bed.
If you weren’t pursuing musical careers, what would you be doing professionally?
Is that a profession?
ERIK: Nah, that’s just where it’s going to go. This is kinda my last ditch effort.
MATT: I’d go back to Wales and work at McDonald’s.
JACK: Porn star.
What’s next for you guys?
MATT: Finish writing the record and record the record, tour the record, do another record.
In a fantasy scenario, which band’s career would you like to emulate?
MATT: The Exploding Hearts, they made one record and died on tour. Just kidding… Elvis Presley.