When Matt Hitt walks into a room he seems to raise the ceilings. The thin, Welsh born frontman of New York City, indie-rock quartet, Drowners, is equally tall and charming, like the shy sought after character in a John Hughes’ movie. He’s a YSL model and has an accent to boot. The rest of the band stroll in shortly after reeking of long nights and out of tune guitar strings. Today is the day they released their sophomore album, On Desire, and they are playing a gig at Baby’s All Right to celebrate. The guys are fun with a typical hot shot band blasé attitude. Great for the entertaining the rock ‘n’ roll myth.
The band consists lead singer Matt Hitt, Jack Ridley, bassist Erik Snyder, and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Daniel Jacobs. The guys make the kind of music that makes you nostalgic for Joy Division but they are good enough on their own that you don’t miss them too much. Their newest release, On Desire, is an ode to NYC and the artist spirit at its finest.
We small talk with Matt about their new album, playing live, and get to know him a little bit more in a Bushwick studio on a hot summer day.
How did NY influence your latest album.
I think New York has always influenced us. It’s difficult to not be effected by the intensity of the city. It’s been a driving force in terms of making us work hard so that we don’t stew around in the swamp.
How would you describe the process of making On Desire?
We worked closely with our producer, Claudius Mittendorfer, in preproduction and talked a lot about arrangements of songs. The recording itself was really fun. We learned a lot from Claudius about tones and performance. It was just really good to be back in the studio.
What were you listening to when you were in high school?
The Clash, almost exclusively.
What was it like the first time you guys practiced together?
Well Jack and Erik didn’t know each other before so I guess we had some beers and got to know each other. I can’t quite remember but i think I separately taught them the chords for Long Hair and we just went into a rehearsal space and bashed it out.
Can you name 3 people (not necessarily musicians) that influenced you?
Harold Pinter, Joe Strummer and Mike Nesmith from The Monkees.
What’s the most fun about recording?
The whole process is sort of like doing a puzzle. I just enjoy the act of working things out and trying to make things better. It can be frustrating at times but the difficulty is what I enjoy.
What’s been was the worst and best live experience so far?
We played a lot of empty rooms on our first tour which can be a little disheartening… The best is any time I can hear the crowd singing along louder than the band.
What are your dream music collaborations?
I’d like to write a tune with St. Vincent…
What do you do when you have a day off in any city in the world?
I guess if it’s a place we haven’t been we’ll wander around the place. Or if we have been there we’ll meet up with mates.
If you could back in time and give yourself an advice, what would that be?
Describe the indie music scene right now in a few words?
Dwindling…but ever present.
What historic writers have influence you lyrically?
Again, probably Pinter. I re-read his plays all the time.
How has modeling helped your stage performance or visa versa?
Not really. I never linked the two in my mind.
What were your thoughts when u first listened to the whole record?
I felt proud of what we had all achieved together. That sense of camaraderie is sometimes hard to come by.
What do you think Drowner fans will take away from new album?
I hope that they’ll be able to relate to it. Thats what I always liked about music.
photos / Maeghan Donohue
story / Koko Ntuen