The Drones (Australian band)
The Drones live in Melbourne, March 2009
|Origin||Perth, Western Australia, Australia|
The Drones were an Australian rock band, formed in Perth by mainstay lead vocalist and guitarist, Gareth Liddiard in 1997. Fiona Kitschin, his domestic partner, joined on bass guitar and vocals in 2002. Other long-term members include Rui Pereira on bass guitar and then lead guitar; Mike Noga on drums, vocals, harmonica and percussion; and Dan Luscombe on lead guitar, vocals and keyboards. Their second album, Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By (April 2005), won the inaugural Australian Music Prize. In October 2010 their third studio album, Gala Mill (September 2006) was listed at No. 21 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums. Two of their albums have reached the top 20 on the ARIA Albums Chart, I See Seaweed (March 2013) and Feelin Kinda Free (March 2016). The group went on hiatus in December 2016 with Kitschin and Liddiard forming a new group, Tropical Fuck Storm, in the following year.
Formation and early years (1997–2004)
The Drones were formed in Perth, Western Australia in 1997 by Warren Hall on drums, Gareth Liddiard on lead vocals and guitar, James McCann on guitar and Rui Pereira on bass guitar (later on lead guitar). The group were an outlet for Liddiard's songs and the unorthodox music he and Pereira had made after meeting in high school, in 1988. All four were also members of the Gutterville Splendour Six, which was led by singer, Maurice Flavel, and included Brendon Humphries on guitar. The Drones played a handful of shows in Perth and recorded an unreleased EP before Liddiard and Pereira left for the eastern states in January 2000.
The pair relocated to Melbourne where they were joined by former bandmate, Humphries, who took over on bass guitar after Pereira moved to lead guitar. Hall soon returned to Perth and was replaced by Christian Strybosch (ex-Stunt Car Drivers) on drums. In 2002 Humphries moved back to Perth and was replaced on bass guitar by Fiona Kitschin (who had previously played with Liddiard and Pereira). The new line up of Liddiard, Kitschin, Pereira and Strybosch were recorded on the Drones' debut studio album, Here Come the Lies (August 2002), via Spooky Records. Humphries formed the Kill Devil Hills in 2003 as an acoustic country blues group.
Wait Long by the River... to Gala Mill (2004–08)
Recording of the Drones' second album, Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By, occurred during 2003 with Loki Lockwood of Spooky Records producing. Once the sessions were complete the group wanted to change labels, which stalled its release while they saved up enough money to buy out their contract. In 2004 Strybosch left the band and was replaced by Mike Noga (Legends of Motorsport) on drums. Bruce Milne's In-Fidelity Recordings eventually issued the album in April 2005, to enthusiastic reviews from the underground music press.
"Shark Fin Blues", was released as its lead single, which Denham Sadler of The Guardian described, "delves into the darkest corners of the human psyche, where depression, loss and anger lie. It's a bitter song that typifies Liddiard's unique approach to music and songwriting and has become an anthem of sorts for the disenfranchised and melancholic." The album was nominated for Triple J's inaugural J Award prize in 2005, which was won by Wolfmother.
In March 2005 they went to a farm at Cranbrook, near Swansea, Tasmania, to record their third album, Gala Mill (September 2006). During a six-month tour of Europe and the United States, All Tomorrow's Parties (ATP) issued their second album outside of Australia, in October 2005, via ATP Recordings. The band spent the interim touring Australia and the northern hemisphere. Also in 2006 a compilation album, The Miller's Daughter, comprising out-takes from their first two albums was released by Bang! Records (a Spanish label, which has other underground Australian bands on its roster).
In April 2006 Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By won the inaugural Australian Music Prize (AMP) for the Drones. Also in contention were works by Wolfmother, the Go-Betweens, TZU, the Devastations, the Mess Hall, Tex, Don & Charlie and Ben Lee. Liddiard explained how they could spend the $25,000 prize money, "We played in Sydney last week and both of our guitars totally died. The guts fell out of mine and Rui's neck snapped off. We've done over 100 shows in the last four months and we have some nasty debts. We have another world tour starting in May. That's after we do two tours of Australia. We can't get jobs because we tour so much. Food is a luxury item right now." The Drones continued to tour throughout the year, including a support slot on You Am I's Australian tour in July.
Gala Mill became their first album to reach the ARIA Albums Chart top 100, in September 2006. It was also nominated for the Australian Music Prize for that year. The Drones were nominated as Most Outstanding New Independent Artist at the 2006 inaugural AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association) Chart Awards. Late in the year Pereira left and was replaced by Dan Luscombe (The Blackeyed Susans, Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males, Stardust Five), on lead guitar and vocals (later also on keyboards). Luscombe debuted for the group at the Meredith Music Festival in December of that year. On 15 November 2006 the group recorded their performance at Spaceland, a nightclub in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California, which was issued as, Live in Spaceland (February 2007), through the US label, Spaceland Recordings.
In 2007 the Drones toured with the Big Day Out before undertaking a four-month tour of Europe (with shows in Norway, France and Italy), commencing in April with a performance at the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in the UK, curated by Dirty Three. The band's European tour was followed by a national tour of Australia, with Snowman. 2007 also saw the release of the band's first video album, Live in Madrid, a live performance by the band at the Gruta 77 club in Madrid. They followed with a period of touring until 2008.
In July 2008 the Drones released a digital/12" six-track compilation EP, The Minotaur (July 2008), with two new tracks, "The Minotaur" and "Nail It Down". These appeared on their next studio album, Havilah (20 September 2008), which peaked at No. 47 on the ARIA Albums Chart. It was recorded in a valley in Victoria's Alpine Shire of the same name. The band undertook a national tour in November, performed at the Falls Festival in December and toured Australia in February 2009 as part of the St Jerome's Laneway Festival. Havilah had worldwide release in that month.
More European and American dates occurred in 2009 including an appearance at the All Tomorrow's Parties New York Festival in September. Wait Long by the River... was performed in its entirety during the ATP-curated Don't Look Back series. In a poll of contemporary Australian songwriters in October of that year, organised by Triple J, "Shark Fin Blues", was listed at No. 1 of the 25 Greatest Australian Songs. At the fourth annual AIR Awards held on 22 November, the Drones won two awards, Best Independent Album of the Year for Havilah and Independent Artist of the Year.
At the inaugural Australian Rolling Stone Awards, held in Sydney in January 2010, the group won the Best Live Act award. In October 2010 Gala Mill was listed at No. 21 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums, by music journalists, John O'Donnell, Toby Creswell and Craig Mathieson. Liddiard issued an acoustic solo album, Strange Tourist (October 2010), before returning to duties with the Drones.
The band released another video album, A Thousand Mistakes (2011), with live footage from Australia, Germany and France. It included a session recorded in Melbourne using keyboard player, Steve Hesketh, who had been recorded with the band on Wait Long by the River... and The Miller's Daughter.
I See Seaweed (2013–15)
The Drones, now with Hesketh as a full-time member, released their next studio album, I See Seaweed in March 2013. It peaked at No. 18 on the ARIA Albums Chart. Two singles appeared from the album, "How to See Through Fog" and the title track, which also had a music video. In mid-August 2013 the Drones were finalists for the AMP for I See Seaweed, alongside efforts by Kevin Mitchell and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The band were nominated for three The Age Music Victoria awards in October 2013: best band, best album and best live act.
The album was identified as the sixth-best album of 2013 by FasterLouder. The article referenced the online publication's March 2013 review of the album, in which it stated: "I See Seaweed often feels less like a rock album and more like a demented film score". Over 100 writers from the Music.com.au website ranked the album first in its list of the 20 Best Australian Albums of 2013. Following the end of their tour in support of I See Seaweed in 2014, Noga departed to focus on his solo work and was replaced by a returning, Strybosch.
Feelin Kinda Free to hiatus (2015-16)
The Drones released their first single from Feelin Kinda Free, "Taman Shud," in October 2015. The accompanying music video was satirically aimed at right-wing pundits such as Andrew Bolt and the Reclaim Australia movement. It was followed by a second single, "To Think That I Once Loved You," in January 2016. Feelin Kinda Free, was released on 18 March 2016, which became their highest charting work by reaching No. 12 on the ARIA Albums Chart.
It was the first album by the band to be released through their own label, Tropical Fuck Storm (TFS) Records. It was met with widely-positive reviews from outlets such as Drowned in Sound, The Guardian and Music Feeds. The band played their final show in support of the album in December 2016 as part of the Fairgrounds Festival in Berry, New South Wales; and entered a hiatus period following the set.
In 2017 Kitschin and Liddiard were founding members of a new band, Tropical Fuck Storm, alongside High Tension drummer Lauren Hammel and Harmony vocalist Erica Dunn. The band toured through the US with Band of Horses in 2017. Their debut album, A Laughing Death in Meatspace, appeared in March 2018 via TFS Records, and peaked at No. 25.
In a Reddit AMA done shortly before the release of TFS' second album in late 2019, when asked about the reasons behind the band going on hiatus and its future, Liddiard revealed that the other Drones members "are just busy doin their own stuff, kids jobs etc.... it slows stuff down. [P]lus its 20 years old so doin something new is fun [sic]. [W]e havent broken up. [E]ven if we did, no one really breaks up anymore."
From February 2020 through till May, the band released a series of 5 archival live recordings through Bandcamp. The first one compiles performances recorded between 2001 & 2004 (ending with an interview with future member Luscombe). The second release compiles a Drones live show recorded at Melbourne's Spanish Club on the 4th of March, 2006 (shortly before the release of Gala Mill). The third one compiles recordings from between 2004 and 2008, which includes covers of "Manic Depression" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience and "Words From A Woman To Her Man" by Beasts of Bourbon (recorded for PBS 106.7FM and 3RRR respectively). The fourth one compiles live recordings from between 2009 and 2012, including a series of promotional idents they'd recorded for radio stations in the UK. The fifth and final one compiles a 2016 live show recorded at The Tote Hotel in Melbourne that was previously uploaded on YouTube through the band's official channel.
- Warren Hall – drums (1997-2000)
- Gareth Liddiard – lead vocals, guitar (1997–2016), keyboards (2015–16)
- James McCann – lead guitar (1997–2000)
- Rui Pereira – bass guitar (1997–2000), lead guitar (2000–07)
- Brendon Humphries – bass guitar (2000–02)
- Christian Strybosch – drums (2000–04, 2014–16)
- Fiona Kitschin – bass guitar, vocals (2002–16)
- Mike Noga – drums, vocals, harmonica, percussion (2004–14)
- Dan Luscombe – lead guitar, vocals (2007–16), keyboards (2015–16)
- Steve Hesketh – keyboards, piano (2013–16)
- Here Come the Lies (August 2002) Spooky Records
- Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By (April 2005) In-Fidelity Recordings/Shock Records
- Gala Mill (September 2006) ATP Recordings/Shock
- Havilah (2008) ATP Recordings
- I See Seaweed (2013)
- Feelin Kinda Free (2016)
- The Miller's Daughter (2005)
- Live in Spaceland (2007)
- Live at the Annandale Hotel 18th, 19th October 2007 (2008)
- Live at the Hi-Fi (2009) ATP Recordings/Shock
- A Thousand Mistakes (2011)
- Live 2001-2004 (2020)
- Live Vol. 2, Spanish Club Melbourne March 4th 2006 (2020)
- LIVE Vol. 3, 2004-2008 (2020)
- LIVE Vol. 4, 2009-2012 (2020)
- LIVE Vol. 5, The Tote Melbourne 29/05/16 (2020)
- The Drones (2001)
- Custom Made (November 2007) ATP Recordings/Shock
- The Minotaur (July 2008) ATP Recordings/Shock
- "Cockeyed Lowlife of the Highlands" (2002)
- "Bird in a Church" (2002)
- "Shark Fin Blues" (March 2005) ATP Recordings/Shock
- "Jezebel" (2006)
- "I Don't Ever Want to Change" (2006)
- "Custom Made" (2007)
- "How to See Through Fog" (2013)
- "I See Seaweed" (2013)
- "Taman Shud" (2015)
- "To Think That I Once Loved You" (2016)
- Live in Madrid (2007)
- A Thousand Mistakes (2011)
- McFarlane, Ian (2017). "Encyclopedia entry for 'The Drones'". The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Jenkins, Jeff (Foreword) (2nd ed.). Gisborne, VIC: Third Stone Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-9953856-0-3.
- "Biography". The Drones Website. Archived from the original on 2 September 2005.
- "Last FM: The Gutterville Splendour Six".
- Nicotene, Jean (29 August 2006). "James McCann". Rave Magazine. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- Kennedy, Sharon (23 November 2007). "Kill Devil Hills a band not a place". ABC South West WA (Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)). Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- Eliezer, Christie (8 April 2008). "The Kill Devil Hills". In Music & Media. Archived from the original on 18 February 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- Coolidge, Danger (March 2005). "Waiting for Godot... to Die". Blunt Independent. Archived from the original on 20 August 2006. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- Reid, Graham (2 September 2013). "Gareth Liddiard of The Drones Interviewed (2013)". Elsewhere Ltd. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "The Drones: Doing Things the Hard Way". Upfront Online. 1 July 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
- Sadler, Denham (29 December 2014). "'Shark Fin Blues' by the Drones – a brutally honest account of depression". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- "The J Award 2005". Triple J. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 2005. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Music to their ears band highly prized by peers". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 March 2006.
- "The Drones Take out the Inaugural AMP (Australian Music Prize)". FasterLouder. 9 March 2006. Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- Wallace, Ian (11 September 2006). "Week Commencing ~ 11th May 2009 ~ Issue #1002" (PDF). The ARIA Report. Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) (862): 5, 9, 14–15, 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
- "The Drones Make Shortlist for Australian Music Prize". All Tomorrow's Parties (ATP). 1 February 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- Faster Louder news - 'The inaugural AIR indie music awards kick off this November' (3 November 2006)
- Mess & Noise news - 'The Drones Confirm New Guitarist' (12 December 2006)
- Hung, Steffen. "Discography The Drones". Australian Charts Portal. Steffen Medien. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- Donovan, Patrick (30 October 2009). "Drones' Shark Fin Blues tops rock list". The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
- "2009 Air Awards". AIR. November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- Cashmere, Paul (24 November 2009). "The Drones Take Home The Major Air Award". Undercover.com.au. Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- "Australia's first Rolling Stone Awards". Bigpond. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
- O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.
- Hohnen, Mike (15 August 2013). "Nick Cave, The Drones, Bob Evans Make Longlist For $30,000 Coopers AMP". Music Feeds. Music Feeds. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- Boulton, Martin (11 October 2013). "Drones in form for Age music awards". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- "FL's Top 50 Albums of 2013". Faster Louder. Faster Louder Pty Ltd. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Condon, Dan. "THE 20 BEST AUSTRALIAN ALBUMS OF 2013". TheMusic.com.au. Street Press Australia Pty Ltd. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
- Hung, Steffen. "Discography Tropical Fuck Storm". Australian Charts Portal. Steffen Medien. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
- "TROPICAL FUCK STORM AMA". Reddit. 20 August 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- Brewster, Will (24 February 2020). "The Drones release early live compilation via Bandcamp". Mixdown. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- "The Drones release new live album recorded at Melbourne's iconic Spanish Club". Beat.com.au. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- "Official Bandcamp release page". Bandcamp. 20 March 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- "LIVE Vol. 4, 2009-2012". Bandcamp. 20 March 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
- "Official Bandcamp release page". Bandcamp. 2 May 2020. Retrieved 2 May 2020.