Thursday, March 17, 2011

Interview: Drawn From Bees

Posted by Frank Krolicki

I've got a bit of a weakness for Australian bands. I don't know exactly why, but something about most music that comes from the smallest of the continents just clicks. Case in point: Drawn From Bees. The Brisbane-based quartet's sharp songwriting and moody alt-rock sound were a very welcome discovery, and it's easy to hear why they have been receiving buzz both in and out of their native land. For their currently underway U.S. tour - which includes two Chicago shows - the band have put together a five-track introductory EP called Cautionary Tales for the Lionhearted to offer up a sampling of all of their releases to date.

Catch Drawn From Bees when they pass through the Windy City with gigs on Monday, March 21st at Reggies and Tuesday, March 22nd at Elbo Room. In the meantime, check out our interview with frontman Dan James below to find out more about the band and how their time in the States has been going so far.

WCR: How's the tour going? Any good stories from on the road?

DJ: New York was pretty amazing. We played at the Bowery Ballroom which is a dream come true for us. We then spent the night partying like madmen at a bar that I can't remember. Our guitarist ended up passing out under a table and we all stumbled back at some point after the sun came up. We do like to punish ourselves on tour by treating our bodies like crap and seeing how we pull up the next day...

What has it been like playing in the U.S. as compared to back home in Australia?

It's totally different! The people in the U.S. are really vocal with their appreciation. I love that because you really get into a performance while it is happening; it's more like an exchange of energy that creates something better than just a standard gig for us.

You're about to play two shows here in Chicago. Any expectations about our city?

We are expecting lots of wind and beautiful women. Anything else would be a terrible disappointment.

You already have quite a few studio releases under your belts and have gotten some great recognition from the media. What do you think sets your music apart? Is there a particular sound and style you go for when writing material?

Firstly, we have four very strong personalities in the band and we are all writers so we are always bringing ideas to the table. The result is that we have a huge pool of ideas that we all record and bring into the studio. Sometimes this makes things a little hard as you can get lost in the massive wash that is the demo pile on my hard drive. Secondly, we produce our records in my studio in Brisbane which means we aren't sitting around worrying about how much money we are spending or where we need to compromise. Finally, we are a very creative bunch of writers and really love to play with texture and harmony. We are quite bored with the standard way of putting guitar rock together and we have access to some really cool samples/old tape keyboards/mics and preamps; we really give all that stuff a work out when we record.

Tell us about Cautionary Tales for the Lionhearted. How did the idea come about to pull together a special release for the U.S.?

Cautionary Tales is a very condensed version of what we have been doing in Australia. We just finished releasing a four-record box set titled Elementary Tales for Young Girls and Boys. This has been a two year process for us and was really how our band was born and how it has grown up. The songs that we chose for this EP were just a taste of the 35 songs that we released here in just over 18 months. We chose the stories that felt right for the record; we don't think beyond what feels right at the time or we would slow down to a halt and just confuse ourselves.

What Drawn From Bees song do you think is the best introduction to the band?

"Waiting for the End." It is like Bowie meets a space cowboy and decides to watch the end of the world from a rock floating somewhere in the universe.

Other bands or artists you're currently listening to?

I am going through a massive Elvis phase at the moment. I found a mint condition complete collection of Elvis records in my local record shop and it has been spinning on my record player solidly for weeks. I tend to get really obsessive with one thing which can get really tiring for a lot of my friends. I also recently heard a live gig of The National on our local radio station and was blown away. I think it will become my next obsession.

What about Australian bands? Are there any others you would recommend people here in the U.S. check out?

Our mates Grand Atlantic and Hungry Kids of Hungary are touring at SXSW and well worth checking out. Having said that, there are so many bands in Brisbane alone that are awesome like DZ Deathrays, Skinny Jean, Bonfire Nights and The Slow Push to start with.

What's next from Drawn From Bees after the tour?

We head back to Australia and start sifting through the demo pile and record another collection of songs. After that we will tour at home and then get back to North America and Canada in November-December. That tour is going to be a big one if this trip is any indication.


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