THE DRONES - Tour De Friends, X-Press, April 2006

The Drones are a hard-working bunch, being more than happy to pack up their stuff and disappear on tour for months at a stretch. The Drones' touring schedule lands them in WA this week. See Tour Trails for details. YIANNI PAKIOUFAKIS spoke with singer / guitarist Gareth Liddiard recently.

Originally from right here in Perth, The Drones moved east simply for the fact that it's a helluva lot cheaper and easier to visit a variety of cities if you're already based on the east coast. And they aren't content to just travel around our wide brown land - they've toured Europe and the States too, most recently in support of their latest album Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By.

Visiting Europe is always a wonderful opportunity to experience cultural differences, from food to art to music to the continental definition of the word 'festival'. Singer-guitarist Gareth Liddiard explains.

"Yeah, well they have this weird thing in Europe where it's not a festival in that it's not like the Big Day Out where it's outside, they have like this weird little festival in a pub and they just have like 20 bands playing and they call it a festival," he explains with a laugh. "And so you rock up expecting a... well you know, a festival. I mean we have done festivals but they weren't called festivals."

All in all it's been a good year for The Drones, with a successful stint of touring both at home and abroad, and Wait Long By the River being well received by fans and press, to such an extent that the band received an AMP award for the album. The AMP awards are voted for predominantly by musicians, and as such it was a gratifying thing for Liddiard and the band to be bestowed. And the award money comes in handy to boot.

"Yeah I mean it was fucking great, I mean we needed the money, we'd been on tour for six months so all our gear was just falling apart," Liddiard recalls. "It was huge but it's a weird award, it's voted for by musicians basically so it's a cool thing to have, I mean we were at the show and we had like Peter Garrett coming up saying he liked us. So that was funny. But yeah, it's a good award because it's voted for by people who make music."

The Drones have been sitting on yet another album, Gala Mill, recorded last year and temporarily shelved while Wait Long By The River does its thing. The album, which is apparently a slightly more laid-back affair, was recorded when the band spent a week in Tasmania with their (at the time) new drummer. The long wait between recording and release just seemed sensible, according to Liddiard.

"It sort of had less to do with the wait and more to do with, we had nothing to do that week last year so we thought 'we could record an album'. So we went down to Tassie and thought well if we get something out of it that's cool, but if we don't it doesn't matter. And we'd just changed drummers then too, so the new guy was kind of chomping at the bit to get in the studio, so yeah. We just did it for fun and put it on the shelf and just sort of waited for the Wait Long By the River thing to run its course."