Photo Credit: James Kellegher
Come February 12th London’s Drones will have a new record out for fans to digest, but before they fill up on all that ‘Our Hell Is Right Here’ has, fans can take in what Drones’ Lois McDougall had to say about opening up, getting animated, navigating the year ahead, and more!
Kendra: There is always some sort of pressure when the time comes to start making something new, especially when you’ve already got a foundation going. When you started to approach your sophomore release, how did you want it to ultimately differ from your debut, and now that it’s ready to go, do you already have plans on where you want to go next?
Lois McDougall: We wanted it to be a step up. I think everyone does, don’t they? Lyrically this record is very obviously different from our last one ‘Exiled,’ in that ‘Our Hell Is Right Here’ is full of deeply personal, heavy songs about things like mental health, divorce, death, and abuse. There are also some songs about wider issues like climate change and body shaming, but on the whole, this record is much more personal. In terms of the future, we’ll just keep writing what feels right at the time. I think honesty produces the best art.
Kendra: You noted that you struggled to get personal with this record. Something that isn’t typically the case as songwriters tend to pull from experience. Was there a particular song on ‘Our Hell is Right Here’ or even a line from a song that helped you start to open up more? A song or line that for you, took writing from a task to something more therapeutic?
Lois McDougall: I didn’t really struggle to write the personal songs, most of the words came to me pretty easily. It’s more that I struggled with feeling that my pain wasn’t valid because I felt like it paled in comparison to the subject matter of ‘Exiled’ and I didn’t want to be all “woe is me.” I felt almost guilty about taking our platform away from issues that are “bigger than me,” so I was cautious when showing the lyrics to the rest of the band, but I’m slowly coming to realize that pain and sadness is individual and that what I’ve been through is worthy of discussion and time.
I think the lyric that best encapsulates that feeling is the opening line from “Epitaph,” “Curses line my spine but I’m the luckiest fuck in town – Got nothing to weigh me down except for the devil inside my mind.”
Kendra: “Josephine” is a song you did get personal on and while the video could have gone in any direction – you guys chose animated. Was hooking up with William Davies for that due to COVID restrictions?
Lois McDougall: We are so happy with the video for “Josephine.” It wasn’t our initial intention to have the video be claymation, but we knew we wanted a creative artist to be heavily involved. We put up a brief online for the type of video that we wanted and a few different creatives pitched ideas and we totally fell in love with William’s work. He’d previously only really worked on PG children’s stories, so to do something a bit darker like this was a bit out of his comfort zone. He absolutely smashed it and we’re all proud of the outcome. I think it’s pretty different from most videos out at the moment so has been a talking point!
Kendra: Let’s stay on this video for a second because I loved it. It reminded me of the days when you could watch music videos on TV. Growing up in the UK you likely saw many of the same videos we did in the states, but were there any UK-based artists churning out unbelievable videos that you watched growing up? Watched and maybe were inspired to want to do music by?
Lois McDougall: Yeah, I think there was probably a lot of crossover as I grew up in the era of more melodic American/Canadian punk like New Found Glory, Sum 41, and Rise Against rather than old-school British punk. The video for “In Too Deep” was always one of my favourites and the Sum 41 videos definitely made me want to be in a band. I remember getting VHS tapes of their tour diary for Christmas when I was a kid and watching those definitely reinforced it.
This question has actually just helped me to remember a video that I’ve been trying to recall for years! It’s an animated video that I was trying to remember to show the rest of Drones before we did the video for “Josephine”…”It’s for Good Day To Die” by a UK band called Mishkin. It has a similarly young, but dark, comedy style to the “Josephine” video.
Kendra: While albums always tend to be a marker in time for the musicians, they also tend to collectively represent specific eras. Throughout 2020, I could not stop thinking about the art being made around the world and how it’ll ultimately define this weird time in all of our lives. With not only your 2021 release in mind but music as a whole, what kind of themes and moods do you feel this past year has invoked in musicians?
Lois McDougall: I think there are two sides to this. When we’re experiencing something challenging like lockdown, we tend to focus on the negatives as they feel all-encompassing, but when we look back on hard times, we seem to recall them in a different light and remember the good parts. Like after you break up with someone and then only seem to remember the good bits! With that in mind, I’m feeling pretty hopeful that we’ll all feel a bit more grateful when things go back to normal and that it will spark a lot of positive music.
Kendra: Lastly, it’s hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Lois McDougall: We’re already starting to write again! Whether it’s for a new album or an EP or a single, who knows, but we’ve recently been joined by our new guitarist Tom, so we’re excited to see how his writing style changes things up in Drones. In terms of live shows, the second we can, we will!