Phil Drinkwater from the Narrows: Interview by Liam Core
As Louder Than War favourites The Narrows release their new single Liam Core caught up with Phil Drinkwater from the band to talk about the bands visceral live performances, highlights of the last couple of years and the state of the nation.
Monday 4th March sees Louder than War favourites The Narrows release their final single from debut album The Eve of Invasion. As the band prepare to record album number 2, Liam Core was able to catch up with charismatic frontman Phil Drinkwater to discuss the bands visceral live performances, highlights of the last couple of years and the state of the nation.
Louder than War: Cold Copy is the last single from debut album The Eve of Invasion. How would say things have gone for the band over the last nine months?
Phil Drinkwater: The most wonderful thing was signing to Cognitive Dissonance Records in London. The two people who run it – Dan and Hannah – released the album on vinyl and it was pretty much a dream come true. The response to the album was kind of overwhelming – getting compared to Berlin-era Bowie and Radiohead in Drowned in Sound and getting 9/10 over at Thisis Fake DIY was pretty great. The key thing is trying to get more people to sit up and take notice. Which for a band as genuinely strange as ourselves, is difficult.
LTW: You’ve been on the underground scene in Manchester now for quite a while, as well as playing gigs in London, and perhaps most notably, T in the Park. From a live perspective, what’s been the highlight of the last few years?
Phil Drinkwater: T In The Park was wonderful – we feel like the music we make, which is big and loud and enveloping – is perfect for festival stages as the lights go out. But some of our favourite shows have been in tiny little places. We’ve played to literally two people and played to rooms packed to the rafters. Either way, we bring the ruckus baby, don’t you forget it.
LTW: These live performances have gained widespread acclaim for being somewhat different from your contemporaries, what has inspired you to expand on your live appearances in such a way?
Phil Drinkwater: There’s always a difficulty for bands who dabble in electronica to let their live shows be almost an afterthought – we never wanted that to be the case. We love playing live. In our opinion, you’re not a real band unless you are out there tearing it up. In terms of the visual presentation – well, we’ve only scraped the surface so far. The smoke, the lasers, the silhouettes – that’s just us warming up. Things are going to get a whole lot more fucked up.
LTW: In much the same way, your music videos have included a march around Manchester, complete with stop at the Scientology shop, and now your latest video have what appears to be a child burning a bin of newspapers. I suppose the obvious question is, Why?
Phil Drinkwater: Because we are odd men who spend most of our time in a tiny little room trying to make noises that scare each other. As a consequence, our perceptions of reality have broken down and we can no longer function as normal human beings. The walls of civilisation have crumbled in our minds and we blur the lines between fiction and reality, our fragile mental states becoming ever frayed as we attempt to manifest this decay in video form.
Or, to be honest, we just like doing really weird shit.
Or, in reality, we see the videos we make as an extension of our music. In the same way we see the art that Tom Langfield does for us, the photography Antony O’Hanlon does for us, the live shows we put on and the general noise we make when concocting internet treasure hunts.
LTW: On this theme, both your music and your videos seem to have an overtly political theme, how much would you say the band has been and will be influenced by the current political situation?
Phil Drinkwater: We just like to write about actual things. Some of the songs have been about current politics – I Make My Car Crash, for example, is about the government’s manipulation of a docile population weaned off engagement by reality TV and capitalism. But we write about many different things – conspiracy theories, 60s America, Italian horror movies, the first world war and now, with the new track being released with our single, Scientology. I think the point is to be specific, be visceral and fucking actually have something to say.
LTW: In closing, what plans are in place for the second album? And of course, what live appearances are booked for the future?
Phil Drinkwater: We have a phrase we have attached to the process of making the second album:
“Bring The Weird.”
Expect the same from the live shows.
After that I suppose we’ll have to just probably take over the world or something.
The Narrows can be found on bandcamp here where both the new single and debut album The Eve of Invasion can be downloaded.
All words by Liam Core. More work by Liam on Louder Than War can be found here.