Sammy Ciaramitaro – Drain ‘Living Proof That Hardcore Is For Anyone’
Every now and then, a band comes along that strikes that perfect balance of familiar and fresh. When California hardcore band Drain burst onto the scene with 2020’s breakout album California Cursed courtesy of legendary hardcore label Revelation Records, it didn’t take long for them to quickly assert themselves as one of the most exciting new bands in the genre. Think Trapped Under Ice meets Pantera with sprinkles of Cro-Mags and Terror for good measure, with searing guitar riffs, ferocious vocals and unbridled energy.
Fast forward to 2023 and Drain are back with their new album Living Proof via another legendary label, Epitaph Records. Without sounding cliche, Living Proof feels like the perfect step up from California Cursed in all the right ways. The band feels more confident, songs are more cohesive and impactful, the performances are more dialled in, and the production is punchy and aggressive but funnily enough, that just happened without any conscious thought, says vocalist Sammy Ciaramitaro.
“We didn’t do a tonne different from this record to the last record. I think you just find ways to get better. When we wrote California Cursed, I thought we were at our apex of songwriting and somehow, we just took our time and got better this time. Rather than having one person who writes all the music, we just get together and jam, which feels like a lost art in writing music these days.”
While Living Proof very much feels like a natural progression from California Cursed, the album has more than one sharp left turn that is sure to surprise. Firstly, comes the track ‘Intermission’, which features a killer verse from rapper Shakewell before erupting in true Drain fashion with an enormous riff and beatdown.
The second surprise though is something very special indeed, a cover of Descendents classic cut ‘Good, Good Things’ from their 1985 album I Don’t Want To Grow Up. It’s always bold when any band decides to cover a seminal band for a live performance. With that said, committing a cover to tape and including it on an album is a whole other level of bold, which the band didn’t take lightly, Ciaramitaro notes.
“Typically, by song five or six on a heavy record, people are fading out of pummelling ass beating the whole time. We were about halfway through writing this record and we were thinking about what we could do to make it a little different. So, we threw the ‘Intermission’ track in as a bit of a switch up and then we thought it would be super cool to throw this cover in, but we wanted to do it justice.
Clearly, we know how to play breakdowns and we could’ve covered Hatebreed or All Out War, but we wanted to show people that while we might sound like that, this is the music we grew up on. So, we figured we’ve cover Descendents, Southern California style, and full disclosure, that shit is hard to sing but I really want to nail it live and show people that this band can do anything and play with anyone.”
Typically, getting the right permissions to record a cover of a legendary band is no easy feat and the band wasn’t sure if it was even going to happen. However, trust the team at Epitaph Records to make short work of such an enormous feat.
“We literally said that we wanted to do the cover, but we think we’ll need to get the rights cleared. They just said ‘Ok, we’ll call Bill and Milo, we know them, and it’ll be fine’ and we couldn’t believe it. They were cool with it and the only thing they asked is that the single cover be done by the same guy that does Descendents art. So not only did we get the green light from the band themselves, but the guy who literally draws Milo did our artwork for it. Growing up in Southern California and being raised on punk rock, that’s just so crazy to me.”
Drain kicked off 2023 with their first ever tour of Australia alongside Canadian hardcore heroes Comeback Kid. Having very little experience of touring outside of America (no thanks to COVID) they were about halfway through writing this record and were thinking about what they could do to make it a little different. The band wasn’t too sure what to expect when travelling to the other side of the world for a tour but unsurprisingly for us here at Wall Of Sound, the band was welcomed with open arms and some of the most insane pits we’ve seen in years. I was lucky enough to attend the Melbourne show of the tour and Drain’s pit was absolute chaos before they’d even started the first song of their set.
“That show was the craziest show of that tour. It was full to the brim, and it was absolutely insane. It was one of those shows where we couldn’t play as good as we usually do because people were constantly all over the stage. We had low expectations, so we didn’t get our hopes up or get big heads about coming out and playing sold out shows, but it was crazy to fly to the other side of the world and see so many people who knew our music.”
From the outside looking in, hardcore can seem like such an intimidating scene for people who are interested in that style of music. But every now and then you come across a band full of energy, having the time of their lives and letting people know that they’re welcome to join in and have some fun.
This is why it’s so important to have bands like Drain to come along and show how hardcore might not necessarily be for everyone, but it is most certainly for anyone. Pay attention, because you can expect nothing but good, good things from these soon to be Californian heroes.
Interview by Nicholas Simonsen @blackechomusic
Living Proof is out now via Epitaph Records.
Grab your copy here.
1. Run Your Luck
2. FTS (KYS)
3. Devils Itch
4. Evil Finds Light
7. Weight Of The World
8. Watch You Burn
9. Good Good Things
10. Living Proof