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Talent, Passion & Motivation: The Drones

Melbourne rockers The Drones, have been delivering a near peerless aural experience ever since they entered the limelight as winners of the inaugural Australian Music Prize for their 2005 record, Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By. Lately, members Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Michael Noga and newest recruit Dan Luscombe have been basking in the success of their epic fifth album, Havilah. Literally translating into ‘place of gold’ in Hebrew, the record documents a rich array of enthralling stories told with a writer’s wit and a poet's heart, delivered with such controlled and compelling power that it leaves listeners’ pulses racing.

Where previous albums accentuated The Drones' fierceness with primarily aggressive tracks, Havilah exchanges parts of that for down-tempo, hymn-like pieces – a move guitarist Dan Luscombe describes as the most natural next step for the band. “You take in different influences, and want to get turned on to different stuff all the time, so it only makes sense that you'll become more interested in playing with an ever-developing approach,” enthuses Dan. “Each Drones album sounds quite different to the last, and I imagine that will continue to be the case from here on in.”

Dan Luscombe

Lyrically, Havilah is also quite different, and decidedly pretty downcast. There's not much to feel lively about ‘The Drifting Housewife’, for example, where vocalist Gareth Liddiard analyses a disintegrating marriage over a classic American blues inspired ballad. Similarly, ‘The Minotaur’ swells and flows with waves of beauty and rage, while the lengthy opening song, ‘Nail It Down’, perhaps best demonstrates The Drones' impressive scope, darting as it does between melancholic ambient acoustics and rumbling rock and roll tantrums.

Broadening their appeal to perhaps wider audiences than their earlier, more reverb-fuelled work, Havilah has enabled the quartet to gain further international acclaim than ever before. Playing extensively throughout both Europe and the United States, The Drones have become a bit of an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival favourite, playing Minehead in 2007, New York in 2008 and 2009, as well as taking part in last year’s Don’t Look Back concert series. The quartet are also gearing up to play ATP again in May this year, making it their forth consecutive visit – something few musicians can lay claim to.

“It’s always a little more comforting playing to strangers rather than friends and family. We don't want to screw up, lest people think we must be off sucking all over the world while we're away [overseas],” explains Dan.

“We just do our thing and hope that people find it interesting and worth listening to.”

It’s easy to understand then, that despite the band’s international fame and accompanying pressure, their hard working attitude and ethic toward music remains unchanged. To Dan, it’s simple. He believes that ’making it’ still relies on those age-old concepts like talent, passion and motivation. “Mind you, a lot of terrible people ‘make it’, so who knows, right?”

Havilah has had The Drones on the road for months, taking in every corner of the globe on their never-ending world tour. Now back in Australia, Dan explains that they are planning to release a DVD with live footage from their most recent Melbourne shows, “plus a closed-set performance in a friend's warehouse”.

Profiling their unique and unusual mix of electric blues and rock and roll this Thursday and Friday at The Annandale Hotel, this may be your last chance to catch The Drones for some time before they head back into the studio later this year. Tickets are $30 and available online or at the venue, and although Friday’s show is already sold out, last minute tickets for Thursdays show are still available.


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