We spoke to Drag Me Down from Swindon, UK! Their trio consists of;
- Oscar Manners – Vocals / Guitar
- James Bowles – Bass
- Tristan Gorman – Drums
*All questions answered by Oscar.
1. Welcome! We’re happy to have you here. We want to talk about ‘Disappointed’ which will be out on August 1st. What inspired the lyrics to this track?
Thanks for having me! The lyrics for Disappointed are basically about how you can feel like you’re trying your hardest to please everyone around you, but everyone still feels let down when you don’t come through exactly as they expected. I love talking about this kind of thing because we always put 100% effort in for little reward sometimes, and it can be demoralising when people just shrug their shoulders and say “eh”. I think a lot of people in creative and arts industries like music, graphic design and videography can relate to this way of thinking, which can get them down sometimes. I want people to know they’re not alone and we’re all here to support one another, especially in this crap time where it feels like our world is crumbling piece by piece with each passing day.
2. What was it like writing for the new track?
I did this song with James at our respective home studios during the early days of lockdown. I wrote the song fully after just a few hours after waking up from a dream I was still on the road (we recently finished a crammed January/February cycle with our other band Sunset Sunday), and as soon I was mostly done with the instruments I sent it to James to track bass. He always knows exactly what to do for each part, and our synergy is part of what makes DMD so special because we’ve been playing together in local bands since we were about 12. The vibe for this track was very bouncy and upbeat, and James packs this track full of great playing that serves the song. As for drums, I actually play drums myself, so my writing and recording was just practical considering there were no studios open during lockdown that we could’ve gone to. Tristan is a great drummer in his own right and always comes through when we play live with very few mistakes if any at all. Also I don’t think he necessarily needs the stress of recording and writing right now considering he’s also in a number of quality bands which he is the guiding shepherd of, not to mention his Uni dissertation haha! The man is a machine.
3. I’ve heard Disappointed, and my feelings were the opposite of the song title. What a bop! Where do you think this ranks in your discography?
Oh thank you so much! In terms of production and overall quality this is definitely the best. I have to give mad shoutouts to our producer Zac Pritchett for always going the extra mile in the name of getting tracks rocking and great sounding. We also worked with Grant Berry who mastered this track; Grant’s a fantastic guy who used to play guitar in one of my favourite bands (Me Vs Hero) and he’s also mastered a ton of other belters by bands like Stand Atlantic and Boston Manor. In other words when it comes to pop punk he knows his stuff! I feel this song is the quintessential DMD tune if you’ve been listening to us for the past year or if you’re just starting to get into us.
I feel like all our songs have an element that makes them identifiably Drag Me Down, I’m not sure if it’s the fact we go a little deeper into personal struggle than other bands, or maybe it’s that all of our songs have this element of catharsis and release for us members. What I can say is that this EP is personal to me and feels like the beginning of a new chapter in our story. At the end of the day it’s up to the listener to decide what they like and dislike. Some people like our first two albums and 3 EPs, which I wrote in secondary school and can confidently say suck! But that’s just my opinion.
4. Another favourite of mine is your last release ‘Who We Are’ featuring Omar Al-Hinai (We Struck Gold). What was it like working with him on this track?
Recording Who We Are was such a cool time. Omar was my first choice to guest and I’m happy he agreed cause his part is slamming and he gives that song such a neck-snapping, spin kicking breakdown. He immediately agreed when I asked him about it, and he gave me a range of styles that he could record remotely from his studio. I was spoiled for choice really. We’ve always loved hardcore and metalcore in DMD and especially We Struck Gold, so it felt good to have a part that was very different from what a lot of bands were doing at the time. I was just settling into Uni and felt we had to write a song that would make a statement, and Omar had a big hand in helping us achieve that. Playing it live is a bit tricky however because my screams aren’t amazing. The first time we played it, a friend of mine called Zander Dale (from Take Flight) helped us out and killed the part!
5. Disappointed will be yet another single, do we have a date for the full EP release?
Yeah, for the last year it’s been all singles because we felt we had to get a solid idea of what worked and didn’t work. It feels right to drop an EP now because I think we’ve found a sound that has that perfect balance of pop punk melody, pace and aggressive technicality that people have come to expect from us. It has the same inspiration that spawned our songs from the last year, but the whole process was refined and perfected, and what we now have is a sound that fully explores what we’re capable of as musicians, and what I’m capable of doing as a songwriter. Zac is also a phenomenal producer; I listen to everything he puts out and works on, and he’s brought some great ideas into the mix that have helped a lot of other bands out, ourselves included. That said, this is his best work yet in my opinion. I can’t say specifically when it’ll be out but late August/early September is a safe bet.
6. Who has the worst dress sense?
That’s an easy one! Ranking our band members’ dress sence from best to worst goes James, Me, then Tris although I’m sure he’ll disagree. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just James has such a popping style that he makes the rest of us look like a bunch of idiots. But when we’re all onstage wearing Swindon Town FC shirts, ripping the venue a new one and flying around the stage like madmen, style doesn’t really matter. Some bands like to coordinate their dress style/have a uniform for branding or marketing purposes. I have and always will think that sucks though, so I’m happy to disappoint any record label reps looking for a sexy new boyband to market. Like I said before though, Swindon Town tops are sometimes a necessity so the crowd knows exactly what they’re in for, which is a bunch of lads from the West Country having fun without caring too much about our appearance. Punk isn’t about style, it’s about attitude.
7. Can you share your funniest show story?
Where to begin. Probably when we booked a release tour for our single “Can’t Say Goodbye” with our friends in another Swindon band called Haydon (now broken up sadly), and on the release day the show was cancelled because the CEO of the chain of pubs (of the one we were playing at) decided we were too loud and “not the type of band he wants to play at his establishment”, despite booking us in advance with most of our music already available for him to hear. He didn’t actually come down from his room to discuss or negotiate this with us though, instead getting the poor staff to relay his announcements. This inadvertently caused all live music at that bar to be cancelled or banned, so we’re sorry to every band in Bath who now has one less place to play shows. It’s not our fault we swear! In hindsight this isn’t really funny, it’s just a bit sad. The next night we played a show in Swindon at a small venue called The Castle. Swindon being our home turf, we had a lot of longtime supporters in the room (which was tiny), so when it got to a particularly heavy breakdown, let’s just say a lot of unsuspecting punters were covered in beer by pitters. Not very funny from their perspective but hilarious from ours.
8. What has been the most surreal moment of your musical career so far?
Even though what has come out about them, probably having the opportunity to open for WSTR, that was a really cool affirming moment for us as they were one of my favourite bands as a teenager. Being friendly with so many other bands across the wider pop punk scene is a great feeling as well, we truly feel like we’re in a community of like minded people for once after so long feeling lost at sea in our local scene. The fact that people talk about our stuff in such a positive light is also really awesome and surreal because in the past I’ve had my confidence intentionally knocked by people who just want to see us fail. I’m happy to disappoint those people.
9. You’re often talking about ‘whatevercore’. Can you explain what that is to the uninitiated?
Ah yeah the real question everyone wants an answer to! “Whatevercore” is an adopted genre of ours that we made up while very drunk after a gig with our old band in about mid-2017. We played a lot of different styles but had this hardcore grounding in each song, so we just called it “whatevercore” so we’d have something to say when people asked what genre we were. I tend to blend a lot of inspiration musically into DMD, with bands like Neck Deep, Fightstar, Counterparts and even Saosin having a big influence on our formerly-normal pop punk songwriting. The main thing is, we came up with it as a joke but people are still talking about it and bringing it up, so I’m glad we’ve become intrinsically linked to this 3 year old meme haha. Hopefully it’ll turn into the new “generic pop punk” or something.
10. Leave a message for the fans!
Thanks so much to everyone who’s given us a chance, seen us live, sent us a message or listened to our music; I can’t tell you how much this means to us three in the band. Our new music is the best stuff you’ve heard from us yet, and hopefully when the world stops being a big spinning hellhole we can see you soon in some sticky floored small music venues where we belong. I want to say a big up to my man Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit, haters stay mad.