Drug Church Will Eventually Make You Hate Them
So listen to a song from their new EP and read an interview with frontman Patrick Kindlon while you can.
Since Drug Church’s first seven-inch dropped in the summer of 2012, they’ve had a whirlwind of activity, from jumping on tours with bands such as Touché Amoré to putting out their first full-length, the acclaimed Paul Walker, in 2013 This shouldn’t be surprising to people who know the work of frontman Patrick Kindlon’s other band, the enigmatic Self Defense Family, but even so, Drug Church has still found time despite being spread out across various time zones, to completely demolish expectations of what an aggressive punk band should sound like.
Now, the band is back with a new EP, Swell, recorded with the legendary J. Robbins in Baltimore. The record is huge in every way—from the complete disregard for systems in lead track “But Does It Work?” to the new wavey-leaning, hard-hitting alt-rock track “Work-Shy,” and Drug Church is making a couple of giant leaps that are very clearly meant to antagonize both previous and potential fans.
We spoke with Kindlon about the band’s new material, and he gave some advice for young bands who want to get popular. Pre-order Swell from No Sleep Records.
Noisey: When End of a Year started, I know it took many years for people to start giving a shit, whereas Drug Church immediately started jumping on tours and got pretty big. Did those two situations differ for you at all or did you see them as business as usual?
Patrick Kindlon: To me, that was highly outside of my previous experience, the fact that anybody cared about Drug Church, and I had a bunch of different feelings about that. When I was a kid and End of a Year was going and I couldn’t get anyone to care about us, I’d see bands that were “ex members of” and I’d be real bitter and angry because I didn’t think they deserved it. But now I’m much more sympathetic to it, because people that are putting in ten years of their time—that’s cumulative. They put their time in. If anyone’s sitting around being the bitter troll that I was, I can assure them, I’ve put my time in.
The other thing is, it’s much easier, mentally, to be liked out of the gate. Self Defense Family goes through this thing where if someone new likes us, I hate their ass. It’s great to be liked, and get nice opportunities, but when it’s a new person, I’m technically grateful, I’m not like a true piece of shit, I wonder, “Where the fuck were you for a decade? I could have used your ten bucks earlier.” With Drug Church, it hit the ground running in a cool way, so I just like everybody. With that said, neither band is big, it’s all still in the trenches, but it has been a decidedly different experience. And, if I could lend some advice to young bands out there…
Yeah, go ahead.
Play really, really big shows. [Laughs] That’s the secret. Use magic to will yourself onto giant shows where people will see you. And I’d go even a step further—fellate promoters. Lick a pussy or suck a dick to get on a giant show. I did the door to door thing with End of a Year when I was younger, and it took going out with Drug Church to realize, “Oh, wait, saturation bombing is the way to do this.”
So, did you have any explicit goals for Swell in following up Paul Walker?
I never really understood people who wanted to follow well-worn paths with their career trajectories. Like you saw Mental, the hardcore band, and mirrored their influences by doing a thing, and then doing the other thing at the end of their career. I thought that was kind of crazy to kind of alienate all of your fans. For hardcore bands, that’s usually a crossover metal record.
The Suffer, Survive.
Yeah. I didn’t get that, but with Drug Church, I think that’s fun. Like we ended up recording our new LP with Jay Maas. When we first sat down to talk about what we wanted to do with our next full length, the opportunity to record with a very large, metal producer came up. And I really wanted us to take it, because I thought it would be hysterical if we made a very polished, metal-leaning record and the band just imploded. Like a couple of the members have drug problems, or I’d get in the news for doing crazy shit like throwing someone out of a hotel window. So, I was kind of excited to do that. Maybe for our third LP we’ll do a very alienating metal influenced record. [Laughs] But for our EP, we took the position of, “Well, now we have to start taking those chances of pissing off our core fanbase.” And the dudes in Drug Church, they’ve always wanted to be the heaviest band on an alt shows, like a Seaweed type band. So this EP is definitely a step towards that.
You've said before that your goal with Drug Church is to alienate people, and this song "Work-Shy" definitely makes me anxious as fuck. What kind of audience were you going after with these new songs?
You know, when I say I like to alienate people, it’s a straight up personality defect, in a very defined way. The dudes in Drug Church like the experience of people saying that they like us. They don’t have the same commitment to being a lowlife piece of shit that I do. But for myself, I’m constantly doing this thing in every band I’m in, which is doing things I think are good, and waiting for someone to say something shitty about it, so I can expose those people as losers and shitheads… I think on some level you have to be combative about it, like, “I’m doing this because I really like it and think it’s cool, but I will also to do it to piss you off if you’re an asshole.” But Drug Church is kind of crazy because whenever we expect people to jump on, more people will jump on. But to those people, I warn you—we will eventually put out our metal crossover record.
Yeah, man, I can’t remember that Leeway record, the one everyone hated…
The Open Mouth Kiss. We will eventually do that, and I will love it. We’ll have our Best Wishes.
Yeah, that kind of goes along to my perception of you, whenever you’re posting something from Spotify, it’s always like an obscure or universally hated third record of a pretty well-loved band.
Well, let me put it this way—my hair is in a huge manbun right now. I look like, to me, a massive jerkoff. But I sent that image of me in a manbun on Snapchat, and all the girls who hit me up are like, “I love that manbun.” It’s a very strange thing. No one thought manbuns were cool ten years ago.
That’s how shit like, the “bad records,” are. There’s an Echo and the Bunnymen record they won’t even talk about, they replaced the singer with an Irishman and everyone shit on it. But I like it! It’s got three good songs on it. That’s more than most later period Echo and the Bunnymen records. So, that idea that you wouldn’t give it a shot because your friends think it’s dogshit is not a good reason. Bands always do this thing where they make a record everyone hates, and then they make a “return to form” record that’s always embarrassing as shit. For me, the record right before the “return to form” record is always the most interesting to me. The one that made people go, “I’m gonna have to get a real job if this next one doesn’t work.”
Like, I’m listening to Morrissey this week—I like Morrissey but I’m not a superfan—and I listened to all of the records in order, and I gotta say, the shit he was doing on Southpaw Grammar—it’s got two songs over ten minutes long—and he had to “return to form” after that. He had to right the ship with Maladjusted. And I always like the more interesting record. Even if it’s bad, it’s an interesting record.
So you like seeing bands trying and failing rather than succeeding.
One hundred percent. Listen, the Olive Garden mentality to music makes me puke. When people say they like something because they know what to expect. I fucking hate that.
So the song "But Does It Work?" seems like some really nihilistic shit, but almost seems kind of freeing in a way, because of that. What kind of place where you in when you wrote that?
I don’t want to get too heavy about it, because most of our songs are about the most petty, small-minded shit. But when I wrote that, shit was popping off in Palestine.
Over the summer?
Right. So watching that shit, listening to my news podcast and going for walks and shit, and I’m listening to shit about how they’re shelling grade schools, and the debates about it—it made me reflect on how nothing works on this bullshit ass fuckin’ planet. Not to get all heavy or anything, but I’m cashed out. Other people can feel strongly about shit and tell me I'm in the wrong for being a little cynical, but the reality is that I don’t have the mental energy to so deeply care about a world where everyone so deeply seems to be a fat turd.
Like we’re not a political band, but Self Defense Family always gets hit with the weird commune idealist, and hits me with ideas they think that can work, and I think that’s really pathetic. It’s the most ahistorical thing I’ve ever heard. We can safely say that because things happened one way doesn’t mean they’ll happen again. But we can also say that there’s hundreds of thousands of precedents of it not working. So for someone to say, “Because I’m alive, I know it’ll work this time,” that is self-aggrandizing on a level that is not for healthy people. To even suggest something like that makes you look like a jerkoff. Systems don’t work. What’s the reggae thing? “The only good system is a sound system?” It’s true. You can’t get your roommate to do his fucking dishes, so how can you get three hundred million people to do something good? That’s my only politics. Anytime you depend on more than three human beings, you can depend on catastrophic failure.
Your worldview is pretty notoriously unique, or at least the way you vocalize it. Has it always been this way, or is it something that just kind of developed over time?
You know, if that is the case, it’s something that’s built up. Because in the End of a Year period, we were contrary to the scene we grew up in, and it was a reaction to that. But that’s still a conscious decision and active intent. But at that time, if someone came at us with some bullshit like, “You’ll never play Tempe, Arizona again,” we’d be like, “This is bad. This could be a real inconvenience.” It’s only from years of years of dealing with that same bullshit where now, if someone told me I couldn’t play in Tempe, I’d be like, “Oh, sick.”
I actually watched this in real-time recently. There’s a comic creator who got a Twitter account, and he’s an older dude, and he didn’t really get the nature of Twitter, which is to be a lowlife. So he’d get on Twitter and be like, “Hey guys, I hope you like what I’m doing with this character” and people would be like, “You fucked that character up, you fat piece of shit,” and he’d be like “Oh, my god.” So he’d get really upset. Fast forward 13 months later, and people are like, “Fuck you, I hope you die, you fat bitch!” And he’d be like, “Hey, thanks for the support all of the ones who wanted this one, for those of you calling me a fat bitch, sorry I couldn’t help you this time.” So he learned how to deal with it. I’m sure he doesn’t like being called a fat bitch today any more than he did then, but he understands now, that there’s always, always going to be someone calling you a fat bitch.
Paul Blest is on Twitter - @pblest