"It was a definitely a rewarding but intense experience for all of us" - Introducing Drown This City
For what feels like eons now, Australia has been a hotbed for emerging metalcore creativity and originality. With it’s globally revered scene originally gaining international attention through the breakout successes of artists such as Parkway Drive, Northlane, In Hearts Wake and a plethora more, the continent has more or less become synonymous with the genre. In consideration, it’s no real suspire that recent years have seen the emergence of a new generation of young acts directly inspired by the artists that cemented the groundwork of the national scene. Taking direct inspiration from the juggernauts that raised and influenced them, Melbourne’s Drown This City are an act that take the incendiary hellfire of their national scene’s founding fathers and mare it with cutting edge sensibilities and first-hand emotion.
Fluently channeling the serrated aggression of Make Them Suffer, Northlane and Polaris whilst simultaneously drawing upon the likes of Dream State, Spirtbox and Jinjer, it’s no real surprise that Drown This City have already made quite the stir on their home soil. As proved with their initial two EPs – 2017’s False Idols and 2019’s Alpha // Survivor respectively - Drown This City is as the platform that allows vocalist Alex Reade to purge the trauma that bookmarked her upbringing and youth. Disconnected and rejected from her family at an age where family support is crucial, Reade and her peers use their modern and emotive take on the genre to inject first hand pain into starkly harrowing tales of abandonment and isolation. It’s these often uncomfortably intimate recounts of pain that have made the act so illusive and coveted in heavy circles, with the band having already shared stages with the likes of Thy Art Is Murder, Hands Like Houses and personal heroes Northlane off the back of just two extended plays. Never the less, it’s set to be the band’s upcoming third EP Colours We Won't Know that will make their namesake revered just in the Southern Hemisphere, but the world at large.
Released May 28th via their new home of UNFD, Colours We Won't Know see’s the band at their most frank, considered and aggressively composed. Their first release with new bassist and vocalist Toby Thomas among their ranks, the EP is a six-track offering of strength, courage and triumph that bridges the gap between escapism and catharsis. As Reade uses the record to explore places previously too unconformable to tread, the group demonstrate their now tightened homegrown sound, one that’s easily comparable to the genre’s pioneers but one that’s a tantalising preview of the new generation of Aussie metalcore.
With Colours We Won't Know set to be released soon, we got in touch with guitarist Josh Renjen to get an insight into the inspirations, the creative processes and dynamics of the next band to take metalcore by storm.
For those new to Drown This City, how would you introduce yourselves?
Josh: "I’d say that Drown This City is still a metalcore band at heart, but I feel like we’re unique in the sense that we to tend to blend angelic female cleans vocals with metalcore and hardcore riffs and guttural male screams. There’s a certain element of expression through the dynamics in vocal delivery and instruments that lends to us being able to craft our own sound, whilst still sitting in comfortably amongst other bands such as Northlane, Architects and Erra."
Musically, what are your primary inspirations?
Josh: "I would say our main influences do reside with both Northlane and Architects, both bands are obviously highly revered in Australia and I’d say we draw inspiration from their grooves and melodies. I would possibly include both Erra and Spiritbox as influences as well when it comes to where we want to take Drown This City in the future. Other bands that we love include Loathe and Currents as well; I’d love to share the stage with both of those bands hopefully sometime in the future."
You’re set to release your new EP Colours We Won't Know in May, could you elaborate on the lyrical themes on the record?
Josh: "Colours We Won’t Know explores the cognitive distortions that everyone on this planet's experiences in one way or another, whether it be self acknowledged or not. The vocalists have approached the lyrics by telling stories from differing perspectives and traumatic experiences, breaking down the impact it has not only our relationships and own lives, but our environment as well. Colours We Won’t Know in itself is a reference to that sense of clarity that we as human beings, with such complex feelings and emotions, will never truly experience."
Was the writing and recording process a cathartic experience?
Josh: "The writing process definitely had its ups and downs, I think it took a little while to find our stride in how we wanted to approach the next release. Once we had a few instrumental tracks written we were able to start sifting through our ideas and took them into the studio with Scottie Simpson. As everything was fleshed out in the studio and instrumentals were completed, we found ourselves looking for a new male vocalist as well, so the vocal writing process did take a pause before Toby joined and being thrown into high gear trying to get everything completed all with COVID restrictions kicking in."
"After vocals were completed with Callan Orr, we had a number of zoom sessions with our producer Shane Edwards to finalise everything and add some final cuts to the EP. I think overall it was a definitely a rewarding but intense experience for all of us, we all had something major happening in our personal lives as well as COVID that played into the situation, and a number of those emotions I feel are definitely evident on the release as well."
The EP features new vocalist and bassist Toby Thomas. How did the band dynamic change with their inclusion?
Josh: "Toby has definitely been able to add a heavier layer to the music; his dynamic scream vocals complement the darker instrumentation really well. Together alongside Alex’s cleans, the pair are so different in their vocal approach, yet they are able to match each other’s intensity and rawness on each track. Some tracks have Alex at the forefront of vocal delivery, while some songs are more focused around Toby. And I think it’s going to be really interesting for people to hear how both their voices line up on the new tracks."
The EP is the follow up to your 2019 EP Alpha // Survivor. How did your approach to writing change after the release of that record?
Josh: "The majority of Alpha // Survivor had been written prior to my involvement in the band, so this release really is the first release where we have a core writing team. Our drummer Anthony Pallas and I spent a lot of nights just recording riffs and figuring out where we wanted to take the next release."
"I knew that I wanted to explore some heavier and darker tones on the next release, whilst still keeping some ties to the last EP for continuity. In terms of vocals, it was the first time that Alex and Toby had worked together, but they were quick to find their stride and produced something really incredible."
You’ve quickly become a major part of the Australian metalcore scene in recent years, what’s your thoughts on the national scene?
Josh: "Australia has a pretty incredible heavy music scene that just seems to keep expanding, we’re honestly really grateful to be part of such a supportive community. It has been pretty tough throughout COIVD not being able to play shows with our friends and seeing our fans. The impact to the music scene overall has been absolutely devastating, but thankfully the situation in Australia does seem to be improving, and shows are finally starting up again."
Finally what do you want listeners to take away from the new EP?
Josh: "I think there’s a little bit for everyone who’s into the heavier side of things on Colours We Won’t Know. There are really ambient clean sections where the dynamics are stretched, but then they’re contrasted with hard riffs and breakdowns that I don’t think people are really going to expect. I’m really excited to hear what people think of the new release, we poured a lot of time into making something that we were really proud to put out, I can’t wait to start taking it out on the road as much as possible."
Colours We Won't Know is released May 28th via UNFD.