21 Apr 2017

Ploughing Through The Haze With The Drug Store Romeos

Drug Store Romeos are a hazy psychedelic three-piece from Hampshire that make the perfect kind of misty-eyed dream-pop for 2AM heartbreak. At the end of the month they're bringing their celestial sounds to Portsmouth Psych Fest, and already have a load of gigs under their belt all around the south. Set to put out their debut single on Strong Island (a label that hosts Vapour Trail favourites Melt Dunes, among others), they're a young band with a lot in store. In preparation for their return to Portsmouth (more on that later), I shot lead guitarist Charlie a few questions over.

Tell me a bit about the beginnings of the band. 
Ive known Jonny since year 9 - we first met after I became friends with his best friend at the time. I tried to go mountain biking on a crappy Argos BMX just so I could hang out with them. However, I had known of him since Year R as we had attended all the same schools without being in any of the same classes.
I met Sarah last year after I posted on our college facebook freshers page asking for a singer for a band. Sarah was the third person to reply after a double dose of Paramore lovers. We bonded over our shared love of artists and bands like King Krule and Happyness.

How often do you rehearse together, and are you in any other bands?
We try to rehearse at least twice a week which is pretty doable as we were lucky enough to be able to turn the "games room" in Jonny's house into our rehearsal space. Aside from Drug Store Romeos, I play drums and cover myself in silver bodypaint in a Thee Oh Sees / Wand-style band called M00N. Sarah is in Spagbowl.

What's the songwriting process like for the band?
I write the majority of songs at 1am when I've been listening to music all night, and am feeling particularly inspired. I usually come up with the base concept for the song/a few chord patterns and the melodies for them. Its a collaborative process for sure though as Sarah will come up the lyrics and other melodies, Jonny will come up with all the drums and nice percussion bits.

You're playing Portsmouth Psych Fest next week, any bands you're going to check out?
Can't wait to see Ulrika Spacek, Bo Ningen (their KEXP session looked mad) , Thee MVPs, and our pals Vinyl Staircase.
Last time we were in Portsmouth for a festival, we weren't allowed through the door for our headline slot because we had no proof of age... hoping that doesn't happen again at this time.

Any other bands you've shared a bill with that you'd recommend?
One of the last bands we played with were called Crappy Birthdays and they blew us away. Before their set they were playing themselves down, and said they had only practiced once in 3 months... they were in fact one of the tightest bands we've ever seen all being incredible musicians ( the drummer alone drums in national jazz bands) and they sound like Fat White Family, but in the 60s, in outer space.

Who Influences the Drug Store Romeos?
Our influences at the moment are Galaxie 500, Suburban Lawns, Velvet Underground, Slowdive and Tomorrows Tulips to name a few. Aside from stuff like non-influences-wise, we've been getting real into post-punk stuff like OMNI, Gang of Four and Wire. I'm also loving lo-hop, people need to listen to an artist called 'Looms.' Lo-hop is lo-fi hip hop with all these lovely old vinyl rips of piano and jazz music with incredible rapping and lovely bars. Lovely to see it flourishing so near to us as well.

Sweet Lullabies is the only song on your soundcloud to date, tell us a bit about that track. 
It was one of the first songs me and Sarah wrote together. It's a pretty depressing song at the core of it and although its old, we don't hate it, which is nice. It was also the first song we recorded together so it represents a nice time in our lives when we started getting really into music.

And how has your sound evolved since?
It's changed a LOT over our first year of being a band; it started out as Sweet Lullabies-esque, THEN turned into a rocky Cranberries/Pixies sound, THEN we lost the distortion for chorus and got really into the idea of being a Mild High Club/Drugdealer-style band. However I think we have finally found a balance between the slackery, weirdo pop sounds of today and the lush dreamy sound of the 90s. We also like to indulge in our love of synthesisers.

What next for the band?
We've got a studio recorded single recorded and have nearly finished a home recording for the B side of it. Planning to release that with Strong Island in the summer time on Vinyl / Cassette.

Thanks for your time! 

Drug Store Romeos play Portsmouth Psych Fest next Saturday, and play Strong Island's Alt Escape next month. A full list of dates can be found on their Facebook.

(Words: Cal Cashin)