Interview: DROWN THIS CITY open up about the meaningful themes and creative process of ALPHA // SURVIVOR EP.
SICK AND SOUND is pleased to present to its readers an exclusive interview we had with ALEX READE and JOSH RENJEN of DROWN THIS CITY post-hardcore outfit hailing from Melbourne, Australia. Freshly signed to UNFD, they have released their debut EP ALPHA // SURVIVOR discussing the concept of human resilience, inner struggles and pain and how those emotions can be part of a cycle of destruction and re-birth ultimately leading to find our ultimate power.
Our our editor-in-chief Alessandra is catching up with the band of Alex Reade, Matthew Bean, Josh Renjen, Laurence Appleby and Anthony Pallas to know more about the band’s journey. We discussed the lyrical inspirations and the creative process behind Alpha//Survivor along with a couple of tracks, their announcement with UNFD and future plans.
For our track by track review (Italian review) for ALPHA//SURVIVOR EP please check out: www.sickandsound.it/drown-this-city-resilienza-e-resurrezione-nel-nuovo-alpha-survivor-ep-tramite-unfd.
- Hello Drown This City and welcome. I would love to kick this off by talking about the band’s journey and how you got into music in the first place.
Alex – I’ve always been a singer, I moved to Melbourne to pursue music and was lucky enough to meet all the boys from DTC through friends or just playing shows together!
- What’s the mindset behind choosing Drown This City as a name?
Alex – We just needed a name! There’s no cool story to tell unfortunately.
- What are your influences in terms of bands and genres?
Josh – We all have really diverse influences, but definitely Architects, Bring Me The Horizon and Northlane are major players for all of us.
- Congratulations for signing to UNFD in 2019. What feelings and expectations are behind this massive achievement?
Alex – We are just beyond excited to have a home. But not only that, UNFD is our dream label. We all sweat the bands on the roster – which we now belong to which is just insane – and our teenage scene years were spent going to shows and hanging up posters with bands on UNFD. To see our name among them now, it’s wild. It’s a great team, and we are just excited to be developed and pushed past what we thought we could ever achieve.
- On July 5th, 2019 you released your debut EP ALPHA//SURVIVOR revolving around meaningful themes as resilience and the cycle of destruction/re-birth. Let’s discuss in depth its lyrical inspiration and the concepts discussed across the tracks.
Alex – Deciding upon the title ALPHA // SURVIVOR stemmed from a concept which the bands feels quite passionately about. We were discussing what we wanted to stand for as a band, what was important to us and what brought us together to create music together. We realised that something that plays a part in all of our lives is this split in emotion that can disrupt how we see the world and how we carry ourselves. To be your ‘Alpha’, is to be your best version of yourself, to be the person that you are most proud of and who stands for what you believe in. The ‘Survivor’ I guess can be explained by saying that we may not always be able to push that ‘Alpha’ in us forward, whether it’s because of emotions, circumstance, etc., but in doing so even in the face of adversity, is what makes us powerful. In other words, it’s not a bad thing to challenge yourself and push yourself to be your best.
Each song on ALPHA // SURVIVOR plays towards an overarching concept of triumphing in the face of adversity, or feeling powerless in the face of it and searching for that reprieve. The best song that explains this is Stay Broken, which carries the line “Alpha, Realise your power”. We feel like this in itself really sums up what this EP is about, realising your worth, your brilliance, your capacity for greatness, and actualising that. Another example is In Your Image, which focuses on the feelings associated with the false expectations of others and the pain that can be caused by this. Each track carries this ebb and flow of human emotion and reaction, and I think that for the listener, it is going to be an interesting EP for them to interpret and take away their own meanings, as everyone experiences things differently. Whilst the personal stories and true meanings of songs are heavily layered within the lyrics, they contain plenty of room for the listener to interpret and identify with in their own way.
- The themes have been approached from a personal point of view, so I would love to know how much the songwriting has been progressed after this last year of adversities and how much you have also changed as individuals.
We had a really unique writing process for this release.
We lost our main songwriter a year before the creation of Alpha // Survivor, but we still had a lot of work in progress songs, riffs and ideas. So we worked with a close friend Damon and also our Producer Scottie Simpson to re-write the songs instrumentally early last year. We literally did this with a broken band we had no idea if we’d survive, so we locked down with a team and just tried to create something to keep us going.
Third Law was the first release with this process, but for distro reasons we couldn’t include it on the EP. When we signed with UNFD we needed another track ASAP and by this time we’d brought in Josh to be our new guitarist and main songwriter, and he and our drummer Anthony sat and wrote my favourite song on the EP within pretty much a couple of days. So they wrote Stay Broken, and then went back into the studio Damon and wrote Love Makes Cowards Of Us All. So then we had two brand new songs that needed vocals. I used to take months to write my parts and the boys wanted to kill me, so I locked myself in a friend’s house overnight alone and literally wrote the vocals for these two tracks in one day and within a week they were produced and tracked ready to go. It was so exciting to have this pressure and to create these two incredible songs with ease for the first item it was like – we got this, this is what we were born to do.
- Let’s share some details about tracks STAY BROKEN and IN YOUR IMAGE.
There was a point in the writing process where we had a complete EP’s worth of songs ready to go, however due to having different distributors for previously released tracks, we found ourselves in the position of having to conjure up two new songs within a very short time. The result of that process was Stay Broken and Love Makes Cowards of Us All. Our drummer Anthony and Josh worked on Stay Broken together, which ended up being the opening track to the EP, and Love Makes Cowards of Us All was written outside of this process, and completed within the studio with Scottie to bring you the track which is on the release. We were surprised by how fast these tracks were pulled together despite the pressure that was associated with delivering them in a timely fashion, and they turned out to be some of the best material on the EP.
I even wrote the lyrics for both tracks in a single day, with the Stay Broken chorus being written in the studio on the day of tracking. Sometimes it’s the surprises in the creative process that create some of the best results.
In Your Image is cool too, because that’s the first song I ever wrote about ten years ago. And in different bands, in different stages I have re-written it lyrically and vocally over and over. It is so meaningful to me because it encapsulates in one song, everything about my childhood to adulthood, and with Drown This City it finally found it’s home ready to be released to the world.
- How are you guys going about the promotion of this fabulous record and what else do you have in store for the rest of the year?
We’ve had a stop start run in the band’s momentum. We’ve lots members, had a huge break to work on our mental health and rebuild our family to be really strong and to know how to support each other. I honestly feel that now, everything we’ve been through has set us up to be able to push forward and carry momentum without slowing down. The next phase is going to be writing more, touring more and we’ve found our creative groove so pretty much now we will be ticking off bigger goals one at a time. I want us to go overseas, I want to wake up and step outside the tour bus in a new country surrounded by my best friends in the whole world.
Thank you for your time Drown This City and all the best with the promotion of Alpha // Survivor EP. We are longing for more music to be dropped by you and supporting you into Europe and US!
Drown This City – Alpha//Survivor EP tracklisting:
1. Don’t Forget To
2. Stay Broken
3. In Your Image
5. Love Makes Cowards Of Us All
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