The Unify 2017 lineup went from strength to strength as it rolled out the announcements this year, and adding Drown This City to the bill definitely turned some heads. Having recently completed a national tour supporting Falling in Reverse with hardcore comrades The Brave, Drown This City are easily sitting in the comfy nest of Australia’s top five heavy buzz acts of 2016.
We caught up with vocalist Alex Reade to talk all things Unify, front-girl power, how the band’s sound evolved from electro to post-hardcore and we find out who their must-see Australian band of the year is.
Unique in two ways, Drown This City have carved a path through the rippling heavy scene with a distinctive electro influence and a commanding female vocalist in Alex Reade.
HAPPY: Firstly, huge congratulations on securing at spot at Unify Gathering! How does it feel?
ALEX: Haha thank you! It still feels extremely surreal. I think the best part is having a good eight months to process and build up to the experience, we’ve grown so much as a band so now we are ready to dominate that stage and appreciate every second of it.
HAPPY: Well if your live shows to date are anything to go by, then I have no doubts that you guys will indeed dominate that stage! How did it all go down? How did you find out?
ALEX: Our manager Roy called me and I saw he’d called me twice in the space of about a minute already so I called him back and he answered and he was like “Alex….Alex…” and he was really serious and I was freaking out. I kept asking him what was going on, were we in trouble and he was really quiet, and then he just comes out with “ALEX DO YOU GUYS WANNA PLAY UNIFY 2017?!” I lost it, I think there was legitimate screaming from both ends. Then I had to call all band members and I played the same trick on them. We had band practice that night and everyone was losing their minds and hugging each other.
HAPPY: That actually gives me goosebumps, that’s so great! Is there anyone you would absolutely lose your mind over if you got to meet at Unify?
ALEX: Alexisonfire is one of my all time favourite bands so if I get to meet any of the members I’ll die a happy girl! I cried when I found out they were headlining. Crisis was my teenage survival album and the last time I saw them play was their break up show in Melbourne – where I also cried. To think I get to stand on the same stage as the band that I fell asleep hoping and dreaming to for years and years – it’s more than a dream come true.
HAPPY: I have to agree there, definitely my highlight for the festival. Any other bands in particular you guys are hanging out to see?
ALEX: Honestly I’m excited to see every single band. Something that I have noticed recently from touring and supporting international bands is that there is so much to learn from successful musicians. It sort of takes my breath away, the star quality and energy these bands have. It reminds me why I want to do this and how good you really have to be. It’s that same feeling as when you hear a new song for the first time and you feel the surge of inspiration and emotion! So to be able to spend three days among so much talent, I think we will come away a different band.
HAPPY: Playing Unify must be a huge goal ticked off for you guys, what’s left on Drown This City’s goal sheet for 2017?
ALEX: We actually joked about that! Playing Unify was a goal we’d had as a band since day one. We released our first single The Edge as a last minute ditch effort for the Triple J Unearthed Comp for the 2016 Unify. Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought that within six months we’d be approached to play. So yes we definitely had to rethink our goals, but we just set our sights on every opportunity we could possibly get our hands on. The past year we have sort of been getting thrown in the deep end and we just work hard each time and hope we rise to the occasion. That sort of became our new mindset; jump at anything we are given and smash it. Whatever comes in 2017, we are ready.
HAPPY: You know what, you actually have been thrown in the deep end, but you’ve been swimming like champions! You guys recently supported the national Falling In Reverse tour dates alongside Brisbane legends The Brave. That’s huge! How was it?
ALEX: The tour was mind-blowing. Even though it was a short and sweet five date Aus tour, it changed the band completely. I just don’t even know where to begin! The level of professionalism and talent the of The Brave and Falling In Reverse pushed us to really step up and perform and play better every night. We made legitimate fans who had never heard of us before, and after each show we’d have people waiting for selfies and signatures which was insane. The best part was the reaction of the audience, people would scream mid set, it felt like a legitimately genuine connection for the first time. The whole thing was a whirlwind and we pinched ourselves for every second of it.
HAPPY: You guys are one of the very few female fronted heavy acts in Australia, and in my personal opinion, you’re one of the best female fronted heavy acts globally in a long time. But that’s only one thing that sets you guys aside from the crowd of Australian bands – you guys have a very distinctive writing style. How does the writing process typically work for you guys?
ALEX: Wow that is a massive compliment thank you! It’s really hard to be objective about your own music. Everything we write aims to sound similar to our influences, well not similar but following a familiar structure and having catchy vocal hooks that fit with the music we love and listen to. But when the songs come out, they sound completely different to anything I’ve ever listened to. Part of me thinks that’s really lucky and we’ve tapped into our own unique sound right away, the other part of me will always wonder why we sound so weird and nothing like any of the bands I want to sound like haha!
In terms of a process we normally start with the electronic parts and a formulation of the melody and feeling of the song which is mostly written by our bassist. Then our drummer Anthony comes in and they work together on structure and developing the ideas. Then comes guitars and vocals last! A lot of people say we aren’t that electronic but because that’s what always comes first and gives us that initial vision, we see that as a major part of our sound.
HAPPY: Well, as a band, you guys have stated that you started out as an electronic outfit aimed at more of an EDM scene. How did the progression from electronic to post-hardcore happen?
ALEX: Haha it’s true. The band started with our bassist, drummer and me tagging along writing electronic stuff on a shitty second hand computer over a summer in a bedroom. We thought we’d make something Skrillex meets Pendulum meets Ellie Goulding and momentarily considered attempting the mainstream, but we were just kidding ourselves to think heavy music was out of our system! I blame our drummer, he is a machine and could make anything sound tech. Everything I heard I kept thinking ‘oohh this would be so cool with screaming’ and soon there were no parts without screaming…
HAPPY: Any must-see up and coming bands you want to give a shout to?
ALEX: Well they are already signed and on the rise but I’ll give a shout out to The Brave for being dab kings and helping us out on our first tour. Everybody needs to listen to Epoch and these guys really bring it live.
HAPPY: Yes! We love The Brave here at Happy, too. Great dudes, great music! Well thanks so much for the chat, Alex! Best of luck with Unify and we’ll see you there!
ALEX: Thanks so much!