By: Jess Goulart
Photo courtesy of drag ur world.
The tagline for drag ur world’s bandpage reads “POP GROUP FROM NORTH CAROLINA. NO REFERENCES NO TRIBUTE. FUCK OFF.” Click on it and you’re transported to a site with pixelated photos, links, and their band name fixedly floating on the page in an unusual way–a visual parody of their unique brand of pop. Abe, Brett, Joe, and Nate G rock the North Carolina music scene with heavy bass lines, catchy hooks, and grooves accentuated by raw sensibilities. The foursome’s first LP, Star, was released in August 2013, and the band is currently planning their next record. In the meantime, enjoy Easter eggs like their five-song cassette tape available on their website, which includes five singles and two unreleased tracks. BTR caught up with the guys to chat about what inspires them, drinking too much coffee, and other dope shit.
[All answers unchanged from the original written interview]
What are your backgrounds as musicians?
Joe: i have been into music since i was a little kid. got a guitar when i was a freshman in high school and started writing songs. i went to music school for three years playing classical. i think writing and listening to music is the most important thing.
Nate G: I have always only been in to music. I go to school for music, I know joe because we both played classical in high school. We all write songs and are each other’s biggest fans.
Brett: i have been playing and writing music on my own since i was in middle school. my musical experience has centered around writing pop songs and not so much on technical prowess.
Abe: one day my mom turned the tv off and told my brother and i we were going to take piano lessons. my dad had guitars and a drum set he lost interest in playing. my brother got a bass and lost interest and traded me his bass and practice amp for my greenday international super hits cd. i was interested and the instruments were around so i played them.
Have you always been listening to this kind of music? I know it’s probably a long list, but what are some of your major influences?
J: all of us listen to a lot of music and are pretty agnostic as far as musical style. i think brett and nate g are two of my favorite songwriters so when i write i’m really influenced by them. i think abe has the best taste of any music listener i know. i just like pop music. i am increasingly influenced by early polyphony like josquin and machaut. abe got me into prince and i am obsessed with dirty mind now. we all like my bloody valentine and slowdive.
N: I totally agree with joe, once again we are each other’s biggest fans. I dont even know what kind of music drag ur world is.
B: i almost exclusively listen to joe’s and nate’s music, but i also like pop and jpop.
A: i’m entertained by the idea of “kinds of music” but i construe it as more of a social concept than a musical one. i’m not sure which kind “this kind” is. my major influences aren’t a list…virgo rising is a major influence, and one which in my case manifests in part in a love of list making so… nate g presents evangelion, fantastic vision – nightmares/return, wildboy – emblem, rumours of brett releasing a new single soon, peppermint pig 12” cover art, shinto music, hearing pieces by machaut, gesualdo and monteverdi in a class last week, coffee, 1 corinthians , health stores, w3schools, cassavetes on cassavetes, mpc 1000, house plants, practicing the guitar.
Tell me about your album Star, how do you feel it turned out?
J: it was made during a very unstable time in my life. we were recording it at my parent’s house in north carolina. we also did our first tour around that record which was a mess. recording felt very stressful and endless. i’m insanely proud of star. it’s one of the most important records that has come into my life yet. it makes me want to make more.
N: I was not as worried during the recording of star about the record itself I guess although i would agree the tour took a toll on me. I love star its insanely raw and beautiful, I consider it a reflection of our desire to create beauty.
B: i think star is extremely dark and unwelcoming. when i listen to it, i feel like i’m being pushed away. it makes me feel empty. it sounds like the voice in the songs just wants to be left alone.
A: i’m glad we recorded ourselves. I think the record is really beautiful. it reminds me of a lot pain I was feeling at the time and the frustration I had making it and the fun I had hanging out with brett, nate, and joe. love jeff’s cover. love jack shirley’s mastering job.
Album art for Star.
Any particular vibe you’re going for with Star?
J: the only conscious intention for me was to make some dope shit.
N: we wanted to make something street, in that it’s something all people could enjoy in an immediate way.
B: i really tried to make the guitar parts and backup vocals perfect, beautiful and nuanced. i think we were just trying to craft perfect pop songs and get them on record as opposed to trying to go for a specific vibe or aesthetic.
A: before we all started rehearsing together nate sent us this video of a group called the freight hoppers playing sugar hill expressly for us to vibe on.
Any songs especially close to your heart?
N: my favorite song is sky.
Where do you draw inspiration from? When do you feel most creatively inspired? Any particularly creative/inspired moment stands out in your memory?
J: when i hear a really dope song or experience an artwork that makes me feel implicit in its creation i’m inspired to write and record.
N: I am mostly inspired by wa mozart.
B: i am hugely inspired by anime. i think most of the motifs and ideas i employed in the recording of star were inspired directly by various anime series. when we recorded star i was watching sword art online and i definitely associate the record with ghost in the shell and bakemonogatari.
A: i like libraries a lot. I spend a lot of highly caffeinated hours in the school library doing assignments and writing in notebooks both personal and scholastic. I get inspired being in my room reading and playing music. band rehearsals have been a big inspiration to me since I started playing in bands. going to classic film series friday nights after dinner. hanging out with my girlfriend.
Do you have a favorite video you’ve done? Can you tell me about the process for creating it?
B: i made the video for our song lose my mind. i think it is really well done. i made it in windows movie maker and it features photography by joe and me.
What was the recording process like for Star? Who recorded/produced it?
J: we recorded it by ourselves using our gear. we would record the bass and drums together and then overdub guitars and vocals. after we had recorded everything we asked this dude jack shirley who had mixed and recorded IV by loma prieta to mix it. i think he made it sound insanely dope.
N: IV is an insanely dope album. Recording was fun for me for sure, the way the four of us work together is really special I think and its very different from the way each of us is individually. Brett is a hardcore perfectionist and Joe likes everything to be very off the cuff and abe and I are generally thinking in terms of bands we’ve been in or music we’ve liked so a lot comes in to consideration.
B: we spent a lot of time rehearsing and recording the record at joe’s parents’ house. the recording process was pretty stressful and monotonous. i think we were really limited by our equipment and technical ability. jack shirley mixed it and he did an amazing job.
A: we recorded the album in joe’s parent’s attic where most of the drag stuff has been recorded. the process was really stressful for me and filled with self-doubt and confusion though not exclusively related to playing music. typically, i went to sleep at around 3pm after recording and woke up at 9 to eat dinner then hung out with joe or watched x-files or played guitar then started drinking lots of coffee at dawn and maybe getting a few hours of sleep before recording the next day. joe and I talked a lot about the band and the record before, during, and after recording. nate and I talked about what bands and composers we like on our cigarette walks. brett and I hung out at his house for a week and barely talked about music at all. in general I don’t think we made a lot of decisions about the music in these conversations. I did argue with joe to break his full take rule for the album to let me punch in the drums on the chorus of 6girl and he compromised by accidentally erasing the beginning of the verse.
What’s your favorite live show moment?
J: i think the past few shows we did in january. abe’s brother seeing us play in new bedford, massachussetts. my sister and our friends came to see us in new york city which felt amazing. i wish we could tour more extensively. i love playing in this band.
N: new york was a great show. philly part one going in to over time for dirty soul and sky was exhilarating.
A: my brother coming to the show in NB. emma, mars, nolan and dave dardy walking through a blizzard to see us play in NY.
Anything you’d like to say to fans as an ending note?
J: all of us just want to make better records and do more shows. if someone likes our music and wants to get in touch with us and set up a show or something they should! we’re planning how we’re going to record our next project right now.
N: everything from our music is real and I’ve never met a drag ur world fan but if I ever do that’s all I can say is that everything from these songs is happening.
B: thank you.
A: thanks fans.
J: all of us want to give a shout out to joe gallagher a true drag ur world fan. thanks for listening to us and letting us stay at your place. i hope we can come play in philly again soon.