If there’s a single thing English duo Drenge are good at, it’s getting loud. The grunge rock twosome recently roped in their third member, bassist Rob Graham, to help their sound reach unfathomable levels, but before they did, things were hitting a wall.
It turns out their first US tour last summer saw them hitting the bottom of the sonic well. “Last time was really stressful,” says guitarist Eoin Loveless. “A lot of vehicles broke down, there wasn’t much sleeping, and, well, it all got a bit dark towards the end. Everyone had a mental breakdown in San Francisco.”
With this year’s full-length, Undertow, under their belts, Drenge are looking to re-do their last US tour with melodic rock at twice the volume. “I think it’s musically more pleasing but themeatically darker — and less funny,” Loveless laughs, referencing their transition into chorus-based songwriting. “Last time, some bits of our songs lost all meaning when we went into the studio and the producer would be like, ‘Is that the chorus?’ and we were like, ‘Well, not technically, but yes.’ And this time there’s definitely a chorus there.”
It all began when they sat down to record “The Snake”, a song whose tough edges recall The White Stripes. “I could feel something,” recalls Loveless. “If we spent five minutes, we could have had one, so we sat down in the studio, worked at it, and there it was. It still sounded like me, but it was musically positive.”
Undertow is injected with all sorts of hidden sweets like that. From the hand claps in “Side by Side” (“I wanted it to sound like Kanye West’s ‘Power’, but our version sounds like a beached whale flapping its fins… so not epic at all.”) to the guitar-heavy structure of “The Woods”, their new lineup allows them to flesh out the makings of songs ready for stadium-sized crowds. “It’s very strange to make something out of nothing, and that’s what songs are,” says Loveless.
Their upcoming tour will see them blow out the walls of Great Scott once again, this time with Graham by their side. Given he’s responsible for introducing the duo to the likes of The Cribs and Yeah Yeah Yeahs via mixtapes, his addition will make both the crowd and the band happier, although possibly risking hearing loss. As long as their keep their health in good shape, their second time around will make up for whatever shadows shrouded the last one.
DRENGE W/ MADE VIOLENT. SAT 6.13. GREAT SCOTT, 1222 COMMONWEALTH AVE., ALLSTON. 617.779.0140. 9PM/21+/$12. GREATSCOTTBOSTON.COM.