Leeds-London trio Drahla have been winding their way towards a debut for a few years now, plotting a course through the messiness of growing up and attempting to make sense of an ever-shifting world via complex, chaotic art-rock. Bassist Rob Riggs, singer/guitarist Luciel Brown and drummer Mike Ainsley fill us in.
Hey guys, are you all based in South East London now? How are you finding it?
Mike: I’m not, I live in Wakefield. I do like London, though. It always felt like a bit of a chore to go and a pretty stressful place to be, but I feel less and less like that the more I visit nowadays.
Riggs: Me and Lu moved back down the backend of last year, so we could go to America. Yeah, it’s good, can’t seem to find any decent fish and chips though. I’ve been told they don’t cook them in lard down here?
Luciel: We’re back and forth to Leeds/Wakefield a lot too, so we’re kind of based between the two and elsewhere at the moment.
Congratulations on finishing your debut album, has it been a long time in the works?
Mike: Thanks! It’s felt like we’ve been sitting on it for a while now. Although the process of recording the thing was only over ten days, last summer feels like another lifetime ago. Eager for it to be out in the world so we can focus on the next one.
Luciel: The artwork and videos have been the most time-consuming factor but equally as important as the music for the finished article.
Riggs: It’ll be a relief to get it out.
How true did you stick to your initial vision for the record? Did it evolve much along the way?
Luciel: Everything just sort of evolved on the way. We didn’t have the chance to have a block of time to write so there wasn’t clarity of what the overall album would be until we got extremely close to recording.
Mike: We did it when the time felt right. It definitely feels like a solid piece of work. Once you’ve got stuck into making it that’s when you start thinking what songs work best next to each other? Does it flow well? At what point should the vinyl be flipped etc.
Riggs: It’s turned out much better than we anticipated.
What themes does the record cover lyrically? The title ‘Useless Coordinates’ sounds like a great descriptor for how it feels trying to navigate life these days.
Luciel: Yeah that’s a good interpretation, the title encompasses a few different ideas and felt like an appropriate overhead for the album. It also summarises a lot that was going on in our lives at the time of writing. Lyrically, a lot of it is observational and drawn from poetry and writings I had generally been working on. I had a strong idea that I wanted the lyrics to be very poetic, visual and abstract. The writing style is probably the congruent theme, to be honest; there’s a lot of content in there thematically.
Riggs: Also, it’s important for the listener to make their own interpretations and hopefully relate to it in their own way
It sounds like musically you’ve pulled inspiration from all over the place, what drew you to having Chris Duffin feature on the saxophone?
Riggs: We love jazz and Chris, so it was a no brainer.
Mike: Chris has worked with us on almost all our releases now. Having him work on a lot of the new record was always on the cards and again, the natural thing to do. He plays a lot more with us at live shows now too.
What, in your opinion, makes for a great album?
Mike: Tough question. My favourite records are albums that you become attached to, that you go back to time and time again but still feel fresh and have that same impact when you drop the needle. For 30 mins/an hour you’re back in ‘that’ world. If you get one with a killer cover too then, that’s the jackpot.
Luciel: It’s not something I’ve really thought before, maybe one for contemplation for the next album?
Riggs: Avoid replication.
What else have you guys got coming up this year, lots of festivals and stuff?
Mike: Gigs! Check out Drahla.com for listings.
Luciel: We’re hoping to do an exhibition this summer of all the artwork and videos created for the releases so far.
Riggs: Writing the next one.
Taken from the May issue of Dork. Drahla’s debut album ‘Useless Coordinates’ is out 3rd May.
Words: Sam Taylor