October Drift have been on the gig circuit since pre-2015, and with the release of their new single ‘Like the Snow We Fall’ we caught up with the band to discuss the aspects to recording and touring musician life that most publications don’t ask.
IN PHASE: So, we have Kiran Roy (vocals, guitar), Chris Holmes (drums), Alex Bipsham (bass) and Daniel Young (guitar). How did you all meet / where are you all based, and what were your experiences in music prior to starting the band?
OD: Dan and Chris went to nursery together! The rest of us met at school at around 13 in Taunton, Somerset. We became friends through skateboarding and music. Me and Dan started writing songs together when we were roughly that age (terrible songs I have to add). We played in various bands and under different names throughout school and college. We told Alex if got a bass he could join the band, so he did and we’re still basically doing the same thing now. We all live around Somerset and Devon still.
IN PHASE: Your first single ‘All Broken Down’ came out in 2018. How long were you making music prior to that? Did you release any demos or amateur material before this release, was this single released through Phys Ed Recs, and had you been gigging regularly before release?
OD: We’d been writing and gigging lots in previous bands so we already had a lot of gigging experience when we started October Drift in 2015. We self-released a series of singles and two EPs in 2016 – one called Stranger Days and one called This Is Nowhere, along with videos and lots of touring. The follow up single to ‘All Broken Down’ was called ‘Come and Find Me’ which was put out by the legendary Fierce Panda Records. We were lucky enough to tour the UK and Europe with Editors in 2018 and it was on this tour we met their guitarist Justin Lockey who runs Phys Ed and wanted to make the album with us.
IN PHASE: 2 years on and you released your debut album Forever Whatever. Did anything change about how you created music in these 2 years? Did you self-produce the record, where did you work on the tracks and was everything finalised in terms of arrangement and instrumentation before recording or did stuff change in the studio?
OD: Our old college tutor had a little studio out in the sticks that we used to hire three days a week for years. It was here we kind of learnt how to record ourselves (badly). Unfortunately that studio got broken into which pushed us into finding our own space. It’s actually been amazing having our own studio. A few bands come and rehearse and occasionally record there which helps with the costs. The way we write is by demo-ing everything, we very rarely jam together. It’s normally the case that someone has a guitar idea and we lay it down and build everything on top. So when we were making the album we sent the label close to 60 demos of varying quality that we had made over years. We narrowed them down to 13 songs and went and recorded them in Justin’s studio in Doncaster in one week. Not everything was completely finalised, there was space for experimentation but we were mostly set on the structures and all knew what we were playing because we’d been playing them live for so long. The idea of the album was really to capture the live essence of this band, which we didn’t feel previous recordings had quite managed to do. We’re working on the follow-up now in which I think we will be recording more of ourselves.
— October Drift (@octoberdrift) August 3, 2020
IN PHASE: Prior to COVID, was your live set-up much different to the gear you use in the studio, and have you changed the gear significantly over the last 2/3 years? Some bands think gear is the holy grail and some are not all too fussed as long as they have a DS-1, so it’d be interesting to hear where you guys are on the spectrum.
OD: We rolled up to Justin’s studio with exactly the same stuff we play live. The concept was to capture our live sound so it made sense. Justin didn’t trust Dan’s Dr Z amp and he ended up using an Orange Tiny Terror which actually sounded great. Alex ended up using a Gibson Ripper over his Fender Jazz bass for most of the album too, but apart from that it was the usual set up. As much as we like playing around with pedals I’ve come to the conclusion I could probably play with nothing but a Big Muff and no one would notice any different. Our gear hasn’t changed significantly over the last few years. Alex plays his bass through a Dark Glass now which sounds great. Im waiting on a Puresalem guitar to arrive which I’m excited about…
IN PHASE: Do any of the band have any other jobs or projects they work on simultaneously? If not, when were you able to commit to the band full-time?
OD: We all still work fairly uninspiring jobs unfortunately. The benefit of the jobs we have is we can get away with touring and recording for periods of time without too much grief. If 18 year old me was told in 10 years you’d still be working in a bar and hoping to make enough from music to leave one day I might have left the band there and then! But I don’t regret a thing. We’re feeling really positive about where we are creatively and the trajectory we’re on. During lockdown we were actually very lucky to be furloughed from our jobs and not rely solely on gigging and selling music and merchandise to survive. We’ve lost a lot of money on touring and self-releasing music in the past – the label has taken some financial pressure off of the release side of things and we’re at the stage where people actually come to our shows (wahey!) so we’re no longer losing money!
IN PHASE: Obviously with the pandemic everyone’s world has been turned upside down in the space of a few months; what implications has it had for your plans for the year?
OD: Yeah, Covid has disrupted our album campaign for sure but we’re lucky it’s not affected many friends and family badly. I also consider us lucky that we released the album in January and toured it in February right before everything came to a halt! We planned to have a big tour in March and April which then got moved to the Autumn, which is now being moved again to March and April next year. Everyone’s in the same boat in this and there’s not much we can do about it. We’ve just got to do what we can – keep writing and putting out content and ride out the storm.
IN PHASE: Have you been able to find any new or revitalised revenue streams to keep afloat until live shows are a viable option again?
OD: Not really, we’ve been selling merchandise but not really enough to keep us afloat, but like I mentioned we have our other jobs which have done that and we’re actually quite fortunate for those in times like these.
IN PHASE: I’m guessing the lockdown has given you a good opportunity to focus on writing new music. Were you planning on writing so soon after the album release? How did the logistics of writing work, did you send ideas through the internet, do you all live together perhaps?
OD: Lockdown was great for having all the time in the world to write. I felt like I had been so ‘go go go’ for the last ten years with juggling work, the band and whatever else life throws at you that I embraced and enjoyed the down time. We have new music coming very soon and we’re working on the second album now. We never really stop writing anyway. The main difference was that I was writing the songs and sending dodgy phone recordings and then we bulked them out only when we were able to get back into our studio together.
IN PHASE: Did you have your usual gear available to you when writing new material? If not, did this affect your creativity, speed of writing and the sound of the tracks? How did you adapt?
OD: No, we left all our gear in the studio over lockdown so I just had an acoustic with me. That probably did swerve the songs I wrote in a certain direction, consciously or unconsciously. Although most of what I wrote during lockdown sounds completely different now we’ve worked on it at the studio and added 10 distorted guitars.
IN PHASE: Did you have a concept in mind before writing new songs? Was it a case of continuing where you left off, or did you predetermine that you’d like songs to sound different or have a different approach to recording?
OD: We are playing around with different approaches to recording at the moment – we want album two to be a continuation but sound different from Forever Whatever. We have some common themes that keep coming up lyrically and musically, at the moment it seems it’s going to be a darker album. Generally speaking the songs’ story tends to reveal itself in the making rather than going in with strong concept. I think it’s to do with way we write. I jot down lyric ideas and we piece songs together like patchwork until they work.
IN PHASE: Generally speaking, what are some of the aspects of the job an artist has when recording and releasing an album that readers would be surprised to hear? For example, do you spend more of your time focusing on interviews like this one than you do writing? Is there a lot of organisational stuff you are all quite involved in?
OD: Things like getting the artwork and the press shots and videos right can take a lot of time and thought. We’ve filmed all our own videos and that’s taken us well out of our comfort zones at times. We self-manage ourselves too, which has felt like the right thing to do for the time being. We deal with all the merchandise, from designing it to getting it made and sending it out. We book all the hotels and work out the costings of tours etc. We work closely with Phys Ed on release schedules and dates and try to correlate that with touring and festivals (Steve does a great job for us as our agent). So yes, there can be a lot more to think about other than just making music. Some days in the studio all we do is make music but other days we can spend hours essentially talking strategy. We wouldn’t have it any other way though, we’ve built this band from the ground up in a very DIY way so I don’t think we can easily pass these responsibilities on. The guidance around us is great but we still feel in control of the future of this band.
October Drift’s new acoustic EP ‘Naked’ is out November 6th via Physical Education Recordings. Check out the first cut from the EP, ‘Like The Snow We Fall’, below: