At an October Drift show, something is going to happen.
Knowing the band’s reputation for being possessed madmen on stage, the organizers of BST Hyde Park, sponsored by American Express, put them on the Bird Cage stage between main stage shows by the Pixies and Pearl Jam on Friday July 8.
Almost immediately, vocalist Kiran Roy, backed by his school buddies from Taunton in Somerset, had to bust out of the cage and into the crowd. He didn’t just use the metal barricade to stand above his fans. It also provided a convenient “slide” for his guitar.
“I’ve got to keep it off the fretboard, otherwise it dents it. I try to keep it on the strings,” he explained after the show.
Then, Roy meandered through out crowd, as if his “stage” was the vast expanse of Hyde Park.
Suddenly, a tree appeared.
Roy, like the other 65,000 people waiting for Pearl Jam, recalled videos of Eddie Vedder’s daredevil climbing stunts in the 1990s.
So, with the help of a burly man, Roy ascended the tree like an escaped monkey. Somehow he managed to do this while singing on time, in tune.
“I’ve got a way to go (to match Eddie Vedder),” he told me afterward. He recounted an “embarrassing” moment a few weeks earlier at a festival in Holland where he climbed to the top of the tower only to find the microphone not working. “I started singing, then the microphone lead crapped out, nothing was coming through, so I had to super slow climb back down.”
This time, it all worked, and he jumped back on stage at Hyde Park with his Fender Mustang in tune, thanks to modifications meant to sustain onslaughts from barricades, trees and frenzied fans.
October Drift are more than the latest freak show to emerge in the British Isles. They have good songs to go with it.
Their debut album Forever Whatever in 2020 gained praise in The Independent, Kerrang, The Sun, Daily Star, Clash and others.
Physical Education Recordings will release their second album I Don’t Belong Anywhere on October 14th.
Roy told me that they wrote “Webcam Funeral” during the pandemic after seeing the “strange sadness” of family and friends watching remotely the funeral of his friends’ mother, who died of cancer.
Roy says the whole second album was written during the pandemic. “So a lot of themes come into the album. Some of those feelings of being directionless, lost and questioning your worth.”
Working acoustically during the pandemic, the band decided that when they could get back together, “let’s make something as loud as we can.”
Their publicist David Sullivan describes I Don’t Belong Anywhere as a “taut, visceral record and a step forward for the band into an even more powerful sound.” The album will include previously released singles ‘Insects’, ‘Airborne Panic Attack’ and their most recent ‘Webcam Funerals’, which is a hit on BBC 6Music and Radio X.
“Alienation and connection are recurring themes throughout the album, yet the darkly anthemic rock record is a totem for bringing us all together again,” says Sullivan, whose clients include Bryan Adams, Alice in Chains and Greta van Fleet. “It has been written against the harsh backdrop of 21st century living where constant developments around the world insist on pushing us further apart.”
Sullivan says the band deliver “some of the most exciting performances I’ve ever seen”.
Indeed, October Drift often look like 13-year old boys jumping around on stage. The band are all mates from high school and even earlier. Alex Bispham on bass and Chris Holmes on drums have known each other “since nursery”, and they joined up with Kiran and guitarist Dan Young over mutual love of skateboarding and bands from The National to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Nick Cave, Radiohead and My Bloody Valentine.
“We’re just from down the road from Glastonbury. So it’s our dream to do the Pyramid Stage. It’s extra special for us because we’ve been going since we were teenagers,” Roy says. “Now, it’s so hard to get a ticket. We’ve seen a guy hang glide in before.”
To support their do-it-yourself touring, they maintain part-time jobs and they also opened a studio in Somerset.
A break came thanks to tour dates with Editors. Justin Lockey from Editors recorded their first album and put it out through his label. “It meant a lot to us,” Roy said. “We’ve always loved their music. It’s strange listening to a band since when you’re teenagers, and then they want to record you and do things together. We learned a lot from just watching them.”
Roy says Editors recently gave them a call for a last minute gig in Birmingham. “They said ‘do you wanna play with us tomorrow in Birmingham? I was working at the pub and I had to tell them (co-workers) ‘sorry guys, something has come up’.”
So off they went to Birmingham to open for Editors, and not long after that, they were opening for Pearl Jam.
words and images Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved
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