Dry The River took the Austin Ventures ACL stage at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and broke the sound barriers between folk and punk. With their varied musical influences, which include Rush and early Genesis as well as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Rós, they defy the “folk” label that has been mistakenly applied to them.
The band can make beautiful acoustic music, but those labels may have been applied whilst touring the U.S. without a drummer on their first go round in 2010. Dry the River includes Peter Liddle, Jon Warren, Matt Taylor, Scott Miller and Will Harvey, who formed out of a series of musical projects ranging in genre from various punk rock, hardcore and metal bands.
Already hugely popular in Europe, but lesser known here in the U.S (that’s changing), the band’s origins are unusually diverse: Harvey is a classically trained violinist and Warren was once homeless and a part of the DIY punk scene. The lyrics to their songs are intelligent, and their harmonies can be haunting.
Their first single was on the Transgressive label in 2009, and pushed by the BBC. They’ve just released their latest album “Shallow Bed” on RCA March 5th 2012. Their subsequent run of UK festivals in 2011 included Glastonbury, Great Escape, iTunes Festival, Latitude, Lovebox, Hop Farm, Lounge on the Farm, Belladrum, Wilderness, Summer Sundae, Green Man, Reading and Leeds, End of the Road, Bestival and many key festivals across Europe.
Christine Thompson and Kathleene Cochrane interviewed Pete Liddle (vocals and guitar) and Scott Miller (vocals and bass) for AMFM Magazine.
AMFM (CHRISTINE): LET’S TALK ABOUT THE VIDEO FOR WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. THE VIDEO IS AMAZING, IT’S SO HEARFELT AND EMOTIONAL, AND THEN THE GIRL WHIPS OUT THE CHAINSAW. I HAD TO LAUGH. WHAT KIND OF SICK TWISTED PEOPLE ARE YOU?
Scott Miller on the left and Peter Liddle on the right explain the filmmaker’s concept in this video, shot on an ipad in Austin’s AVCB Trailer at ACL.
AMFM (CHRISTINE): TELL ME ABOUT YOUR METEORIC RISE TO FAME
I think our meteoric rise to fame is still in the future. We’ve been on tour for about 2 years now.
SCOTT: Trying not kill ourselves, but we’ve been touring pretty much one a day. Mostly in the UK and Europe, but we’ve been pushing into the U.S.
Put our first record out in April of this year, and it seems to be fairly well received. So far so good.
Planning more shows. Touring in the U.S. is pretty exciting for us. Being British, and coming here and touring across the U.S. with huge ground to cover, makes it a bit more of an adventure. It’s been real fun, and we’re looking forward to more of that.
AMFM: (CHRISTINE) YOU WERE HERE IN AUSTIN BEFORE?
SCOTT: We did SXSW in 2010 and 2011.
PETE: We could be making this up.
SCOTT: I think I’ve got my days wrong.
PETE: It was 2011 and 2012. We had just been signed, and we weren’t going to be doing it. The suddenly a week before the label suddenly told us we’d be doing SX. We frantically came out, really unprepared, our drummer couldn’t get a visa for various reasons. So we had to do all the shows accoustically at the last minute. Since then we’ve had a drummer, which has been better. (Scott laughs)
AMFM: (KATHLEENE COCHRANE): A LOT OF ARTISTS HAVE A REALLY HARD TIME WITH SXSW.
SCOTT: It’s definitely hectic, there’s so much going on and so much great music everywhere. It’s difficult to stand out.
KATHLEENE: DO YOU FIND THEY OVERSHADOW THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF SXSW BY BRINGING IN THE BIGGER BANDS?
SCOTT: Yes, everyone comes to see the bigger bands, the queue is around the corner for them.
KATHLEENE: AND EVERYONE ELSE IS SLEEPING IN THE STREETS. I KNOW HOW THAT WORKS. DID YOU GET ANY SORT OF AFTER SHOCK FROM PLAYING SXSW?
SCOTT: There was talk after we did the first one. They said, “oh, you’re going to blow up after this, everyone is going to go crazy and know who you are. But it didn’t have as much of an impact as I thought it would.
PETE: I don’t know how you can tell to be completely honest, we’re always playing shows, it’s hard for me to know a sense of trajectory for the band.
KATHLEENE: DID YOU HAVE JUST ONE VENUE?
PETE: We played five shows our first year, and it was really frustrating without a drummer. I thought this is not going to be the best way to do this.
KATHLEENE: BUT YOU CAME BACK WITH A DRUMMER.
PETE: Yes, this year we did, and we played Stubbs and some other venues, that was nice. Again, it was frustrating before, I felt like we weren’t playing our best. (first SXSW).
KATHLEENE: SO WHEN YOU CAME THE FIRST TIME, YOU WERE ON A LABEL?
PETE: Just. This time around we got more press, and a lot more accoustic sessions,
The second time around we worked with Matt Hickey, who’s obviously based in Austin, he’s our U.S. agent. So the second time we had showcases that were slightly more meaningful.
KATHLEENE: DO YOU THINK THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES? DO THE GRIND THE FIRST YEAR, AND THEN COME BACK STRONGER THE NEXT?
PETE: It just depends on who you are. The Vaccines were signed at the same time we were, and did SXSW the same time that first year. Things just really kicked off for them, so I think it just really depends on who you are.
SCOTT: It’s kind of a luck sort of situation, you just happen to get the right people down at your show, the tastemakers, and then they spread the word about you.
KATHLEENE: ARE YOU AWARE THAT THERE’S ACTUALLY A GIANT BUZZ AROUND YOU RIGHT NOW?
SCOTT: Around Dry The River, really? (laughs). Well that’s good that there is!
KATHLEENE: ACL IS OBVIOUSLY A JUMP UP FROM SXSW.
PETE: People who we’ve run into on this tour are saying “wow, you’re doing ACL, that’s a big deal, that’s cool.”
SCOTT: That’s why I’m excited to get out there and play this show. I’d say we’re a year behind here in the U.S., from where we are in the U.K. because we’ve been touring out there so much longer. We’ve done the bigger festivals in Europe and the U.K. The Glastonbury stage was 5000, and in Redding it was about 10,000.
So when we come out here, it’s almost like going back to two years ago when we were starting out, because we are less well known out here. We’ve been playing much smaller roooms here on this tour.
KATHLEENE: WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU NEED HERE TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN?
SCOTT: Just more time, and to keep at it. We need to play as many shows as we can. Every time we go back to a city a second time, like on this tour we hit Chicago again…
KATHLEENE: IT’S THE RECYCLE SYNDROME.
SCOTT: Absolutely, more people come. We just did Arizona, there were maybe 20 – 30 people. By contrast, Chicago had 300, perhaps because we have played there a few times.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES –