With Melbourne constantly going in and out of lockdown, it might seem desirable to drown the entire city so we can stop the spread of COVID. Because we aren’t psychopaths, we did the next best thing by grabbing vocalist Alex Reade from the band Drown This City to discuss the release of their new EP, Colours We Won’t Know (our review here), lineup changes and the dark emotions surrounding their latest release…
Hi Alex, thank you for taking the time to chat and congratulations on the release of your brand new EP. How is everyone feeling in the Drown This City family?
Thank you so much. We are all feeling really good, we have been holding onto this EP for most of COVID so I’m relieved that it is finally seeing the light of day. Through Melbourne’s long lockdown last year we sort of forgot that we had this EP recorded and it was exciting to remember that we have music that we can share with the world now that the timing is right.
It must have been hard to sit on some songs for an extended period of time?
Yes, it was definitely hard but we were lucky as we got to come out of that lengthy lockdown with a brand new release. After a whole year of not really being able to see each other or connect as musicians then coming out of that to try and create something collaboratively would have been extremely difficult. We are moving forward as if that lockdown never happened though, and we found ourselves in a lucky enough position to be able to do that.
On the new EP, the lyrics focus on extreme personal trauma. Bringing these topics to light throughout the writing process must have been difficult for you at times. How did you manage to get through that?
It’s a tough one because it wasn’t a conscious choice to bring anything to the surface and I didn’t have any intention of writing anything this deep or this dark. It all happened organically. I was struggling to write anything else and I was having writer’s block. I was constantly thinking ‘Why have I got nothing to say? Have I run out of things to say?’
I ended up breaking down through the process and struggled going through painful emotions, and that’s when I realised that this dark place is where these new songs need to be written from. When we started writing, the topics from which the songs are written about came to the surface and it all came together naturally.
As an artist, is it important for you to share details of your personal struggles in your music?
That’s a really tough one, obviously, I always want to protect myself and maintain personal privacy however I want to be as honest and transparent as possible. At this stage, I was trying to lead as a vocalist through writing powerful things, which was failing me. I came to realise that showing true vulnerability would be the most powerful thing to do if I wanted to have something to say that people would want to believe in. It is really hard to talk about those things, especially when the songs are about my childhood or my family. I have a good relationship with my family now and knowing that they might read my lyrics or read interviews was nerve-racking. I guess that is the life of being a musician though.
As a performer, how do you plan on expressing the EP’s heavy emotional themes on stage and in person?
I don’t really think about that. I just get up there and live in the moment, I don’t tend to plan my performances ahead of time. I often wonder whether I convey my songs messages correctly when I am on stage but usually the adrenaline takes over and I find myself going with the flow.
Toby Thomas recently joined the band as a bassist/vocalist and has seemed to find his place in the group effortlessly. How did Toby seem like the right fit for you guys and how does he continue to be a great band member and friend?
Toby feels like the missing piece for Drown This City. Matt chose to part ways with the band, he didn’t want to write music anymore. That was all well and good, we respected Matt’s decision but it was definitely very quick and out of nowhere when it happened; we were all shocked. This happened right before we were about to go into the studio.
Toby was a friend who was well known for playing in another great band. Our guitarist bluntly asked him whether he would like to join our band and he instantly agreed, it all fell into place that quickly. We brought him into the studio straight away and we saw eye to eye creatively from day one. He is an amazing songwriter, he wrote most of the lyrics and probably half of the EP in total, if not more. Having him as a co-creator was an incredible experience for me. It all seems as if it was meant to be.
Very rarely does it happen where one band member leaves and someone else comes straight in and is a perfect match from the start. We are very lucky to have Toby.
This is your second release through UNFD. How are you finding your relationship with them? Are you able to maintain full creative control?
They are such a great label! This time around we are more confident in understanding how to work with a label. They are just an awesome team to work with, They are very supportive and we maintain complete creative control. I feel if they thought we were going in a direction we shouldn’t then they would give us guidance and support. They really appreciated what we provided to them in this release as well, especially with a new bassist/vocalist, we weren’t sure what they would think yet they completely embraced it. We couldn’t be happier where we are, the whole band is very grateful.
Will we be able to see this EP performed when you play at Full Tilt Melbourne and supporting In Hearts Wake on their tour? What else can we expect from you guys?
For sure, the focus of these shows for us is to get this new music heard by as many people as possible. Unfortunately, I cannot give too much away at this stage but we are all excited for these shows coming up. Full Tilt is going to be a big one, then after that, we are going to focus on rolling out our own plans that we have coming up. More will be revealed soon!
Is there anything you would like to tell fans before they experience the new EP in full?
Enjoy the heavies. I know it’s a bit deep and dark but I hope everyone loves it and can relate in some way or another.
Interview by Adam Rice
Colours We Won’t Know is out now through UNFD.
Drown This City – Colours We Won’t Know EP tracklisting
2. Time Won’t Remember Us
3. Beyond The Glare
5. Borderline Existence
6. New Burn Order