By Marwa Safi of Rock Edition
Without any sort of prior knowledge of the band, anyone would be able to guess simply off mannerisms and image that the boys of Drowners are in fact on their way to becoming rock stars. When I first spot Matt Hitt, lead singer of the band sitting at the bar upstairs at The Catalyst club in Santa Cruz, I tentatively tap his shoulder, not quite sure if that is the correct way to approach him; but, with a look in my direction he quickly focuses his attention on me and after a quick introduction asks, “Why are cats so trendy?” Noticing my confusion, he laughs, and next asks, “What does Vanessa Hudgens do when it’s not Coachella?” It then dawns on me that those are the last two things that I tweeted. Shocked at the situation, I call him out on “twitter-stalking” me, to which he just laughs and asks if we should go sit somewhere with more seats since the rest of the band are still on their way up. As the rest of the boys come up, introductions are exchanged all around: Jack Ridley (lead guitar), Joe Brodie (drummer), and Erik Lee Snyder (bassist). Once they’re all together it becomes painfully obvious how cool they are, each wearing ultra tight black skinny jeans with variations of black leather jackets and hoodies. Literally, they look like they just walked off a black and white poster. Despite their obvious self-awareness of just how badass they are, they also prove to be some of the most easy-going and funniest guys I’ve interviewed. If I wasn’t already sure after our fifteen-minute Q&A, their exhilarating performance definitely solidified my opinion that this New York-based quartet is quickly on the fast-track to indie music royalty.
Rock Edition: First off, how was your set at Coachella yesterday?
Brodie: Amazing. Best day of my life.
Rock Edition: Did you guys see Vanessa Hudgens at all?
Matt: Nah, she was too busy working or something.
Brodie: I saw David Hasselhoff. I got a picture with him.
Rock Edition: Yeah? I saw Kid Cudi and tweeted a picture with him.
Jack: Yeah. I don’t know where I was for that.
Brodie: You were on the table and I ran off.
Jack: Oh, he was in the artist area?
Rock Edition: Did you guys get to catch any other performances?
Yeah, we saw Cage the Elephant, Pixies, got a little bit of Julian [Casablancas], saw some MGMT. They were on the main stage behind where we were performing.
Rock Edition: Are you going to be changing anything up for next weekend?
Matt: Our socks.
Jack: Hopefully it’s the amplified version. I wish it was longer; like twice as long.
Rock Edition: How long was your set?
Matt: Like half an hour.
Jack: I just meant the trip.
Rock Edition: Are you guys going to be there longer next weekend?
Jack: Yeah, we’ll be there all weekend.
Rock Edition: Are there any acts you’re determined to watch?
Matt: Yeah, The Replacements, Blood Orange, Drowners.
Rock Edition: Do you approach festivals differently than normal concerts?
Matt: Nah, not really.
Jack: They feel almost not like a show, in a way, because you’re so separated. For some reason, I get less nervous.
Rock Edition: Is it just like a more casual “playing in the park with friends” type of thing?
Jack: It’s just like they’re not right there [the audience], you’re more in your head type of thing.
Rock Edition: Do they keep the audience really far away?
Matt: Yeah, there’s a big gap between the stage and audience.
Jack: It’s even bigger of a gap for the bigger stages.
Rock Edition: You guys are also playing a couple other festivals this year; did you guys go to a lot of festivals before you started performing at them?
Matt: No, I only went to one when I was fourteen. Can’t afford it.
Rock Edition: Exactly! That’s unfortunately why I’m not at Coachella.
Jack: I feel like I would just get burned out all day in the sun if I didn’t have like an oasis or something.
Brodie: Yeah, it’s so hot just standing there all day in the heat.
Rock Edition: And you can’t even bring in your own water.
Jack: Yeah, that’s the corporate side of it.
Rock Edition: So your tour with Temples started in Seattle not too long ago. How has that been?
Matt: Great. Yeah, this is only like the third gig or something so it’s relatively new, but yeah it’s going great. We still have like 20 shows or something left.
Brodie: So far, so good. I’m glad we’re in California now.
Rock Edition: Yeah, California’s pretty cool.
Jack: Yeah, it’s nice to be on this part of the tour.
Rock Edition: What? California?
Jack: Yeah, Northern California’s really cool.
Rock Edition: You’ve really been touring all over this past year. Where have you received the best reception?
Matt: The UK was really good.
Jack: Brazil was great.
Erik: Brazil was amazing.
Jack: San Diego was really great too.
Rock Edition: You guys are based in New York, but where are you all from?
Brodie: I’m from Hull.
[Brodie shows me a tattoo right below his elbow that says “Hull.” Matt at this point also shows me a tattoo in the same exact location that says “Wales.”]
Matt: I’m from Wales.
Jack: I’m from Portland/Seattle area.
Erik: I’m from the Philly area.
Rock Edition: Last year was really all about the British music scene, and it seems like this year has a lot of solid bands coming from New York. Why do you think New York is so happening right now?
Matt: I agree! I think it’s just always good. It’s just a spotlight shines every couple of years for some year.
Rock Edition: Your debut album is less than 30 minutes in total. Why did you decide to make the songs fairly short?
Matt: They’re long songs, played quickly.
Rock Edition: That’s a good way to put it.
Matt: If you look at a Ramones album, it’s like that.
Rock Edition: Is that one of your ultimate idol bands?
Matt: No. That’s just my song-length idol band.
Rock Edition: Are you planning on releasing any more singles off the album?
Matt: Yeah, well, I feel like nowadays you don’t really release a single you just release a video.
Rock Edition: Are you planning on releasing more videos??
Matt: Yeah, we’re actually talking about releasing a video for all the songs. Nothing filmed yet, though.
Rock Edition: What’s your favorite song to perform live?
Brodie: Mine’s “A Button on Your Blouse.”
Jack: Yeah, that’s mine too.
Erik: Mine’s probably “Luv, Hold Me Down.”
Matt: Yeah, and that’s mine too.
Rock Edition: When are you guys planning to start recording the second album?
Matt: Well, we are contractually obliged to so…I don’t know. We’re going to be touring for quite a bit, and you can’t really write songs when you’re all packed in a van. I feel like people who write songs on tour have their own bedrooms and such on their bus. But, yeah, we’re working on it.
Rock Edition: What are you most looking forward to in 2014?
Matt: Second weekend of Coachella.
Brodie: Yeah, me too.
Rock Edition: If you could have written any song ever, what song would it be?
Matt: “Jailhouse Rock.”
Jack: I don’t know. That’s tough. Do you go creatively or like catchiness?
Erik: I was thinking of “Let It Be” or “Monkey Man.”
Jack: I was thinking of “Let It Be” too.
[After much deliberation they decided on “something by the Bee Gees.”]