As we focus on female-fronted modern rock bands in this issue's "Cool New Stuff" section, it only seems appropriate that we are interviewing Drill in this issue's "What So & So Sez" feature. Read on as we talk with guitarist Dan Harnett.
I love your guys' music. What part of the country are you guys in?
"We're based out of New York."
My first listen reminded me of another band, and I don't say that as an insult, but it reminded me of a band from New Zealand, who's now transplanted here, called Hoi Polloi. I don't know if you've heard of them or not. They have a female singer and the band's recently taken on an aggressive edge to it.
Yeah, it means "the masses" in Latin I think. Well, it seems like an interesting story behind the band. Why don't you tell me how the band started.
"Well . . . actually, I put an ad in the Village Voice about three years ago, and I was trying to find another person to form a nucleus, who wanted to work on something, that wouldn't be going along with whatever the hell the trend was at the time. Out of that, I met Lucia, and she is one of 'em. I liked her energy and her attitude, her vocal style, and we started from there. I have a little studio that I built at home, and we basically formed our sound right there, trying to sculpt it together. And we got to the point where we thought we had something."
What led to the exploration and use of Lucia's vocal style?
"I think the thing that we're both really attracted to, as far as music and songwriting goes, is just expression. We really both feel the need to express ourselves, and we're both very passionate people about what we do. We try to capture as much emotion as we can in the realm of the song structure. It's just experimentation. We're not afraid to . . . it's just when you work in a band situation, it's pretty hard for so many people to have input, and everybody's sort of got to give and take. So doing it the way we did it, we sorta had more control over what we wanted to do. And once we felt comfortable expressing ourselves, we had even more confidence."
What's your favorite aspect of the live show, and why?
"My favorite aspect, I think, is just being up there, playing in front of people. Being able to just touch people on whatever level they connect with you, whether it's just the rawness of it, or whatever it is, just getting excited, playing in front of people. That's what it's all about. There's only so much you can do in the studio, and it gets stale after a while. Our thing is really a life thing. That's what we always wanted to achieve. Just being up there playing in front of people is just so thrilling."
That's exciting to hear, when I listen to your music, I know that it's got the potential of being even more intense live.
"Actually, everybody that comes to our shows says it's just raw, but it's still got the balance of the quiet parts versus the loud parts, and that's great. We have a blast together"
Why do you think that people connect to the art of music?
"I think it's a release for a lot of people. People just . . . it's a form of expression that can excite you. Depending on your mood, you can tap into something from whatever your favorite band or artist is. You can really enhance your mood. And it can also be just very, very relaxing, or very, very in your face. I think it's become a form of therapy for a lot of people. I know it is for me. I love to sit down, if I'm feeling really low, or if I'm feeling, you know, if I'm (bleep) off, then I'll sit down and I'll listen to something that'll just enhance what I'm feeling. It's a way of connecting on a higher level, with yourself."
What makes you really mad?
"What makes me really mad? About what?"
Anything in general, or specifically, that may come out translated in your music somehow.
"I'm not quite sure I follow you."
Well, is there anything specifically, when you're creating your music, that almost is translated from extreme anger, or something that really makes you mad, that somehow you find a way to express that in music -- or wish you could?
"You have a couple hours? A lot of things make me mad. Generally, I'm a pretty in control person. I'm not . . . I have a hard time with my emotions sometimes. I don't want to let loose. What that comes from, I mean, it could come from anything. It can come from living in New York; it can come from people I meet, people's attitudes, you know. There are just so many things. There are so many things that make me mad, but I don't want to give you the impression that I'm going around (bleep) off all the time. I'm a very controlled person, as far as that goes, and the one way for me to express myself is through my music. It's just a great release for me, and it's a way of tapping into it, getting it out without hurting anybody,"
How do you think Lucia prepares herself for a show to express some of the emotion that's in your songs?
"Well, she keeps in shape, which I think is very important, because it's very physical for her. She can't really talk to anybody before a show. She's getting in sync with herself, getting in sync with her emotions. Just mentally preparing herself."
What are some of your memories of some of those old school days, when someone would say, "I like you. Do you like me?"
"Uh, I can't tell you I've never been crushed by women. I don't know, I've had some bad experiences and I've had some really good experiences. I've always been shy, so I always had a hard time talking to girls. It's hard to explain. I can remember specific instances where I really, really dug a chick and she (bleep) hated my guts. I don't really even know how to answer that, to be honest."
Okay. What do you think of Jesus Christ?
"I believe in Jesus Christ, totally. I was brought up an Irish Catholic, and there was no way around it. But I don't really care for the Catholic church and its hypocrisy."
What do you think about Christ's claims to be "the Way the Truth and the Life . . . No one comes to the Father but by Me?"
I guess I believe it. I don't know whether it comes from Irish Catholic guilt, or actually really believing it. I think I do believe it. I believe that there is a higher power, and that there is a way you've got to act, and a way you've got to behave in order to get to the next life."
Do any of the other teachings of Christ come to mind or impact you on a daily basis?
"Just being true to yourself and true to other people. I firmly believe in honesty, and just truly being nice to people. And I think there are a lot of people who are just complete phonies, and they climb on people's (bleep) just for the sake of furthering their career. I've never been a political player. I consider myself a straight shooter. I don't bull (bleep) either. I'm not gonna sit around and tell you I really like you if I don't believe in what you're saying. And I won't go out of my way to dishonor you, that's for sure."
It's funny . . . we always do an editorial on the back page of our magazine, and for the next issue I'm gonna have a picture of Milli Vanilli. I'm gonna try to get a hold of a press photo, and the title's gonna be, "Are You Faking It."
I'm just gonna address honesty.
"I think that there's some people out there, like I've said before, that are trend chasers, and they're afraid to take a risk, and they're afraid to let you get too deep inside yourselves, because they're afraid they won't get a record deal, and that they might sell themselves short, and I think that's pretty damn sad. I also think it's bad how record companies make people feel that they have to act a certain way in order to get ahead."
What sort of experiences have you had with church, whether it be Catholic or any other?
"Experiences, as far as . . . ?"
Good . . . bad . . . things that you've gone through that have influenced you, things you've observed that you like or don't like.
"Well, like I said before, I'm a firm believer in God, and a firm believer in Christianity. However, speaking from my own personal experiences, I have been through the Catholic church, and it's just one big corporate pile of crap. I don't go to Catholic church. I just have a very hard time believing that you have to feel guilty if you act a certain way, or that you have to feel that the price is going to Hell if you don't act a certain way. I think that as long as you're a good person and that you treat other with respect and kindness, there's no reason why you have to burn in Hell. This All or nothing' teaching where there is no acceptability of any mistakes, really -- I think it's really sad. It just turns people away. I do have faith, but I just do not agree with the Catholic church."
Do you think those principles that you expressed are really a reflection of the Catholic church, or Christianity as a whole?
"I think they're a reflection of Christianity as a whole. You mean the bad points I was talking about?"
The parts about, "if you don't act a certain way . . ."
"I think that it's . . . I can't say about other religions. I don't really know of any other religions well enough to speak, but I can talk about the Catholic church, and then I can definitely say that it's so conservative that it's become a big . . ."
My perception of Christianity as a whole is that there are certain ways of living, like you mentioned, and that there is a penalty for not living up to that, but the whole concept of Christianity is that Jesus came so He could bring forgiveness, because all of us are guilty of something. And so, there are those penalties, but there is an opportunity for forgiveness -- and to me, that's what Christianity is all about.
"People have to have . . . I don't think guilt is a way of forcing somebody to act a certain way. I know people who are devout Catholics, they go outside the church, and they're like, having affairs, you know what I mean?"
"And to me, it's just, it goes to show you what guilt can make you do. You're not being honest when you're behaving like that. And it's scary. And I saw a lot of that where I grew up. Also, I think it inhibits people an awful lot. I don't think it's healthy for a person -- to feel like they have to watch everything. You've gotta be yourself, and try to live your life, and you try every day to better yourself. But, at the same time, you can't go act like a hypocrite while going to church and going to confession."
I don't think that is necessarily something that solely the Catholic church is guilty of.
"I'm sure it's not. It's in every religion, but again, I can't speak for every religion."
From my perspective, that's one of the concepts of Christianity, is the power that's available to the person when they are forgiven. With their relationship with God Himself, they can use His power to live above hypocrisy, to live honestly, as well as -- it's a churchy word -- but, righteously. It's very freeing, because it's not based on guilt. It's based on a relationship.
"It would be based on free will."
It's like if you're married or something, or have someone you love, you don't want to cheat on them, because you love them, so there's a whole different motivation there, rather than if the person will hit you if you cheat on them.
Well, do you feel like the band's music has any messages that tap into the spiritual side of where you come from?
"I think there's definitely some spirituality. A lot of the lyrics have to do with Lucia's sister who passed away in the past year. And a lot of individuals that she had known, who died. "Could You Care," is about a baby that's about to be aborted by its mother -- about the baby talking to the mother, and that's certainly another side, rather than the other side. It's not pro-life, and it's not pro-choice. It's just something for people to think about."
I applaud you guys for releasing a song like that, because it's definitely not politically correct to take a perspective like that, because it could easily be labeled "pro-life."
"Well, people are going to do what people are going to do. We have no control over that."
Well, you can pass on to Lucia that the staff here, and stuff, we'll pray for her. It's not always easy to go through the death of a loved one. Well, I appreciate taking the time with you.
"Thank you, man. I appreciate it."
Maybe if you come through Austin, Texas, we can see each other.
"Definitely. When we're down there . . . hopefully we'll be down there. We're going to head out toward the end of March. We'll give you guys a call and you can come check out the show."
Okay. I'd love to.
"Thank you very much, Doug."
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