With catchy pop songs, fun-loving attitudes, and a trail of models constantly following them around, if Drowners isn’t the hippest band in New York City, then they’re certainly in the running.
The Manhattan-based band formed in January of 2012, six months after singer-guitarist Matt Hitt arrived in New York by way of Wales. Their self-titled debut, on Frenchkiss Records, isn’t out until January 28th, but they’ve already secured a set at Governors Ball and another at Coachella, where they’ll be on the bill with their good friend Dev Hynes, aka Blood Orange.. Friendship plays a big role in Drowners: the characters in their videos (as well as the directors, like Alan Del Rio Ortiz) are all part of the band’s inner circle.
Before heading over to Black & White for their CD listening party, Bedford + Bowery met up with Hitt, guitarist Jack Ridley III, drummer Lakis Pavlou, and bassist Erik Snyder for happy hour at St. Dymphna’s to discuss Hitt’s dating life, bathing in Jack Daniels, and what goes through Ridley’s mind when he’s asleep . . . oh, and there was some chat about music too. You can catch Drowners on January 31 when they headline Bowery Ballroom.
Hitt: We wanted to make something for the record release that brought together our mates who’ve helped us the past couple years. All the contributors are our friends and they did photos that matched up with the song titles. [Among the contributors are notable photographers Chad Moore, Sandy Kim, Coco Young, Marcel Castenmiller, Miyako Bellizzi, Ben Rayner, Siggy Bodolai, Jimmy Keithley, and Drowners manager Pete Voelker.]
Ridley: Acacia [Marie Fusco], a lovely girl who works at Welcome to the Johnsons. She’s an up-and-coming musician, as well. She’s awesome.
Hitt: I don’t know what it comes from specifically, but it manifests itself into a fear of answering phone calls and entering rooms. What’s that Woody Allen quote? “There’s a lot of people I’m anxious to avoid.” I forget which film that’s from, but it’s along those lines. They crop up in songs a lot because those tend to be some of the strongest feelings I have… anxiety and longing. I think lyrically it’s an underdog album. I like the image of the stoic underdog, you know?
Hitt: We arrived at 7 a.m. and they took us to a five-star hotel, gave us keys to our separate rooms, and a bottle of Jack Daniels. I had a bath in it.
Hitt: I had a bath with Jack Daniels, most of which ended up in the bath. I basically had a bath in front of Jack and Pete, and Pete actually got in the bath while Jack documented it. [Laughs] That’s our next video.
Ridley: I think that video would do really well.
That’s hilarious. Matt, I know you spent a good portion of last year playing rhythm guitar in the band SKATERS. Now you guys are about to embark on a European tour with them. Is a stop in Wales on the itinerary?
Ridley: I had a dream about Wales last night. I was flying around and I had to escape some hotel debacle. We had to flee out the window and came across shit loads of money.
Hitt: That’s how you know it was a dream.
Ridley: I can never run or fight in my dreams. Matt, there was a point where you and I were running across the road, but when I try to run it turns from this animal-like crawl/run thing into flying.
Hitt: A month after we formed, we made demos and I e-mailed them to all the New York labels I knew about. Apparently they didn’t listen to it and then someone from Frenchkiss walked past me on the street. I was on my own and looked really sad and that reminded her that I had e-mailed her the songs. Then they came to some gigs and we signed.
Hitt: Well, the vocals took a while [laughs].
Ridley: Super uncomfortably comfortable situation that was different than anything I’ve done before. Everyone shared the same space. It was kind of like, “We’re all in this spaceship to Mars together.”
Hitt: There weren’t quite enough chairs [laughs], so we had to sit on the floor.
Ridley: Yeah, there were always two people sitting on the floor. It was great. It was very intimate, which I enjoy a lot more.
Hitt: Pianos. Well, the first gig we booked was Webster Hall with The Vaccines, and we were like, “Oh yeah, that’ll be a cool first gig.” Then as it got closer, we were like, “Uh, maybe we should do a test gig.”
Pavlou: They were shitting themselves. I can say that because I wasn’t in the band at the time.
Hitt: We played Pianos the night before The Vaccines gig.
Erik, are you in any other bands?
Hitt: What I was to SKATERS, he is to Threats.
Pavlou: We’re all friends. It’s an, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” situation.
Hitt: It’s nice; it’s a community.