Tell us who you are and what you’re up to
I’m from Wales originally and moved to New York in 2011 basically as a model (embarassingly). I started a band while I was over here so right now am balancing those two things.
I’d already written a load of songs before I moved and I basically came out here to find people to play them with. So I started the band. That was easier than I expected.
Mostly because every other fucker in New York seems to be able to play guitar. Or everybody I met anyway.
In general though it felt like it wasn’t all that hard to find people that would give it a go.
Is that an attitude you see a lot of in this city?
Yeah. I mean you find a lot of people who talk a good talk but I was just really determined to actually do it. Rather than sit in a pub every night and talk about doing it.
Drowners, ‘Cruel Ways’ from 2016 album ‘On Desire'
I feel like a lot of people move here with purpose. A lot of people are totally on their own. And so in a way building any sort of creative community is easy here because the people that are serious about things are forced into it. It creates a certain mindset.
It’s also just so ludicrously expensive here that if you’re not doing what you want to be doing then seriously what’s the point?
Talk to us a little more about this mindset. Explain it to us.
Everyone I play with has a lot of determination and we end up doing a lot of the stuff ourselves. We’re coming at things from this from a sort of “punk DIY” place. That might sound annoying but what I mean is we want control of the whole thing. From writing the songs to designing the artwork to creating the merch… whatever it is. We kind of want a hand in every part of it. That work ethic is still with us.
What I really mean is that more than anything its the attitude that you have and the hours you put in that make the difference.
It’s also easier because we all actually like each other. That’s something that helps our creativity. We’re all pretty positive and encouraging of each other.
Can you tell us a little about the direction of your sound? Where you’ve come from and where you’re going?
The first record was a collection of songs I’d written and most of them came before I’d met the guys in the band. Or even ended up in New York. We basically just recorded our live show.
Drowners, ‘Luv Hold Me Down’ from 2014 album ‘Drowners'
After touring it together for a year we had a better idea as a group what kind of sound we wanted to be making. So the change in sound to the second record is more representative of the kind of music we wanted to be playing initially. It’s a lot more collaborative. Maybe it’s a little more serious.
Drowners, ‘Troublemaker’ from 2016 album ‘On Desire
We’re working on the next one right now. It’s gone from me being the sole creator to a collaborative effort where we’re all sharing ideas. Everyone’s got a lot more confident in their writing. The switch in the sound is a truer reflection of who we are as a group.
Your environment has an impact too. This place is so busy and loud you know? It’s hard not for that to worm its way in.
What do you draw from outside your genre?
We’re all big fans of 80’s British music, I think that’s our common ground. The other dudes in the band LOVE disco. They REALLY love it!
I’m actually really into modern pop. Not necessarily a fan of it but am just obsessed by the song writing. Sort of dissecting it as a case study or something. Like why is it some of these tunes become so massive? Stuff like that new Lorde song. I saw her do that on SNL and was like ‘fuckin hell that’s incredible!’
Abba, ‘Dancing Queen'
I listen to Abba at least once a day too. I sort of think they’re like the perfect pop band. Their music reminds of The Smiths a lot. Behind the jaunty, major riffs and rhythms there’s actually a lot of sadness to it. I think that happy/sad dichotomy is the key to good pop.
The Smiths, ‘William, It Really Was Nothing'
What do they say about comedy and tragedy being two sides of the same coin?
Where do you like to go in the city?
One place in particular… and it’s a pub - surprise surprise. St Dymphna’s in the East Village. When you move here it doesn’t take long to get over the whole Empire State thing. When you do you start to carve out your own neighbourhood or community.
St. Dymphna’s is this pub that is the closest we’ve got a local where you can go on your own and you’ll know someone in there. That’s an important thing when you’re in a place like this massive city.
St. Dymphna’s, East Village
There’re also this thing going on on the crossroads of Orchard and Canal. A weird little pocket of new shit that’s emerging. From one angle I guess it looks like gentrification but then from the other it’s kind of great that we’ve got this area where interesting stuff is popping up. Art shows, spaces for performances, that sort of thing.
Is there one thing you get opinionated about? Something particular to you?
I get fucked off when I see people walking in one direction and looking in another. Irrational anger. Beaten only by people who stop at the top of stairs.
In a horrendous world that’s not that big a deal I suppose.
Tell us a shit joke.
Heard one the other day actually.
A guy comes home to his wife steaming drunk. She says “Patrick if you come home like this again I’m divorcing you.” Couple of nights later he goes out with his friend. They get hammered. So hammered that he throws-up all over his suit. “Fuck I can’t go home, my wife promised to divorce me if I got this drunk again.” The friend says to him “Just put a 20 in your pocket, go home and tell your wife someone threw up on you and as an apology gave you this to cover the dry-cleaning.”
“Good idea,” he says, and goes home.
Gets home. The wife sees him and says “you’re drunk again!” “No no no it’s not what you think,” he says, “someone else threw-up over me and gave me this 20 for dry-cleaning.” She says “well if that 20 is for vomit, what’s this other 20 here for?”
“Oh that one? That’s from the man that shat in my pants.”
Excellent! Mostly because that joke actually mentioned shit!
Matt Hitt is the lead singer for band Drowners. Their second studio album ‘On Desire’ is available now.