October Drift are a band making waves in the underground music circuit. Formed in the summer of 2014, these four lads from the cold bleak moorlands of the South West have managed to accomplish a great deal since they exploded onto the music scene just two years ago.
Despite not having any social media presence to begin with, 2015 saw the band sell out venues in Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield and London by word-of-mouth alone. Following a number of well-received single releases in 2015, including debut ‘Whoever’, ‘You Are, You Are’ and ‘Robots’, this March saw the release of their dark and brooding debut EP, Stranger Days, via Manchester’s Scruff Of The Neck Records.
Lead track ‘Losing My Touch’ sets a stark tone tinged with melancholy, “I’m silver all the time” being the central lyrical motif. “It’s a song about self-doubt”, explains Kiran Roy (Vocals/Guitar). “When you question whether you’ve made the right decisions, how the lifestyle of being in a band has put a strain on a relationship, the constantly being away, having no money and having to work minimum wage jobs to fund it. This song is about questioning whether it’s all worth it, or whether we’re just chasing a deluded dream whilst we watch other opportunities pass us by.”
‘Still Here’ battles the difference between imaginary worlds and what’s real, as swirling soundscapes send the band soaring to their epic best over Chris Holmes‘ unshakable drumming. ‘Champagne’ brings past romances back to life as old ground is re-tread, while meditative EP closer ‘I Left My Heart In Amiens’ bestows a modern day ‘Blowing In The Wind’ upon a paranoid and direction-less generation.
It looks as though 2016 is also shaping out to be a promising year, after October Drift – completed by Alex Bispham (Bass) and Daniel Young (Guitar) – charmed the crowd at BBC 6 Music Festival and embarked on a 15 date tour. In spite of all their latest achievements, these rising newcomers still remain a bit of an enigma to the music world. We caught up with drummer Chris Holmes about their recent success, the power of social media and what’s next in store for this dissonant- rock four piece.
You’ve just finished the UK tour to support your new EP, Stranger Days, how was the reception to the new music and were there any highlights?
The reception was great! We were genuinely all taken a back with how well this release went. Not that we thought it was going to go badly, we just don’t tend to overthink how well something is going to be received. We don’t really like to second guess what our fans/the general public want to hear. We just write whatever comes to us and put it out. If people then latch onto it, then that’s great! In my opinion, once you start writing with an audience in mind, or try to tailor your songs to fit within a market, I think you lose the integrity of what you’re doing. For me the highlight was how many people came to the shows. It was really humbling to chat to everyone who came to see us and hear how they’d found out about our music.
Do you guys carry out any pre-show rituals? Is there anything you do before you go on stage as a band to calm your nerves or to get you all pumped for your performance?
Yeah we have a little warm up/psych up routine which often involves punches and wrestling. It’s a bit like an American football team psych up to be honest. We’ve had a few people in the dressing room witness it and they usually soon leave. It can get a bit over the top, but it helps us bring up the intensity levels of the performance to where they need to be.
Looking back on how far you’ve come since your first gig, did you expect to be where you are now- with a 15 date tour that is?
I think we definitely expected to be playing tours with loads of dates. However, we thought most of the dates would be terrible and playing to pretty much the sound engineer, it always surprises me when people come down to see us. I’m always like ‘you’re here to see us? …but why? We’re nobody’. But on this tour it completely blew me away with how many people bought tickets to a show, just to see us. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that.
Your EP was inspired by the contrariety of being on the road and the reality that exists outside of the band, such as living in a town with no music scene and having to take on normal part-time jobs. Can you expand on that and what is your latest track ‘Losing My Touch’ about in particular?
Right now we’re all living strange split lives where we still work minimum wage jobs in order for us to fund the band. To be honest I hate my job, but I do it because it’s allows me to do what I enjoy. Going out and playing shows is a form of escapism for us all, I guess. Being out on the road and playing consecutive dates takes you out of normal day to day life, and for those few days or weeks it’s like we’re completely different people. I remember going back to work two days after our Leadmill show and it got to me a bit. At that show I got such a buzz from 300 people going fucking mental and being so into what we’re doing, and then to go from that to serving customers in a supermarket can mess with your head a bit.
You all grew up together and attended the same school in a small town, what’s the reaction to what you’ve achieved from the locals?
It really differs depending on who you speak to. A lot of our friends who’ve supported us can see things building and are really excited for us. The support we have from our close friends and family is our backbone to be honest. It would make things really difficult for us if we didn’t have that and we can’t thank them all enough. There is still a load of people though who aren’t really quite sure what we’re doing, which cracks me up to be honest. It’s usually family friends or work colleagues I get it from. They always say stuff like ‘so are you going to university?’ Or ‘so what are your plans for the future?’ What they really mean is ‘when are you gonna grow up and realise that being in a successful band is a pipe dream?’ I guess from an outsider’s perspective it could be a hard thing to get your head around, because the words successful and musician generally don’t go in the same sentence. Hopefully one day they’ll get it.
What’s the story behind the band – did you all fall naturally into the roles of vocals/bass/drums/guitar?
We’ve all played in other bands throughout our youth and been good friends for years. To be honest we’ve all been hanging out for so long and writing music together in one form or another, that it would be weird if we stopped.
Where do you find your inspiration, and is there ever any conflict over what you want to sound like?
It’s a difficult one. I don’t remember us ever sitting down and saying ‘we want to sound like this’. We just write whatever comes into our heads. I think we tend to take inspiration from situations that we’re presented with, and moments of frustration. We just let all of that out through the music.
There’s rarely any conflict over how we want to sound. Our attitude in the studio is to try any idea no matter how mental it seems. You don’t know how something is going to sound until you physically try it, so we’re all pretty open minded in that respect.
You’ve stated previously that you avoided social media, due to the fact that before the internet, bands were successfully making music and selling out shows without social networks. Now that social media is a huge part of the process, do you think that there’s any drawbacks to this for artists – is it less about talent and more about the commercial appeal of bands with a large following?
I think there are a lot of drawbacks for an artist who doesn’t use social media. For us it definitely reached a point where the advantages of having it outweighed the disadvantages. But our opinion was, why do we need it at the beginning? We didn’t want to be another band smashing ‘non-news’ statuses to an audience that wasn’t there. Our thinking was to stay away from it and just focus on making good music and releasing great content, which is what being in a band is about, isn’t it? For us it was definitely a case of seeing if the music alone was enough to suck people in. It doesn’t matter what viral campaign or social media strategy you employ, if you don’t have great songs and content, it’s gonna do nothing for you.
What did you learn from the whole experience of avoiding social media for a while? And was it fun being able to prove that you could still generate fans the old fashioned way?
It was great not having to worry about any of that stuff. I think we learnt that word of mouth is still a really powerful tool and that sometimes doing things a bit different and not giving everything away right from the off can be more intriguing than going with the crowd.
We did enjoy watching people on Facebook and Twitter trying to get their heads around how a band that’s just launched has sold out their first tour, when they can’t find anything about them online. There were some people who got quite angry about it to be honest. Like we’d just found the cheat codes to being in a band or something.
What’s next for the band?
We want to continue gigging and releasing as much as we can. We’ve got a few festivals which we’re looking forward to as well as recording up in London in May. It’ll be the first time we’ve recorded outside of our own little studio, so we’re all pretty excited!
Catch October Drift live on one of the dates below, and check their website for updates.
01 – Foxlowe Arts Centre, Stoke
09 – Liverpool Calling Festival, Liverpool
22 – Nozstock Festival, The Hidden Valley
23 – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield
Words: Rhianonn Mangan