Damian Hughes, Allusondrugs
IN a music scene where the bands have to compete harder…
than anyone else; finding success stories is quite hard- when an act does rise; sustains attention and appeal- it is always rewarding. Yorkshire-based Allusondrugs are one such example: an act that have forged their own sound; encapsulated live crowds- and risen to public prominence. It may be early days, but the signs are all good: the band has owned festival after festival; their gigs are legendary- their online following is swelling by the week. With stunning music and tremendous band interplay, the boys have a shining future ahead. Determined to quiz the band further, I caught up with Damian (the band’s chief songwriter). Without further ado, here’s what unfolded…
One thing about Allusondrugs (that really strikes me) is your blend of sounds and genres. Which bands/artists have influenced your work?
There are loads, far too many to mention. We like all like a bit of Deftones and My Bloody Valentine. There more than just what music I’m listening to that goes into what I write though; there are dreams I’m having, films I’m watching, feelings I’m feeling, food I’m eating. It’s all just whatever my life feels like at that particular time. But then again, maybe I’m just lying about all that stuff to appear more deep. Menace Beach, All the Best Tapes, Louise Distras and Salvage My Dream are all good artists that take up a lot of space in my head.
You have had a busy 2015: any particular moments/gigs/months that stick in the memory?
All the festivals we played this year were really good, especially Y-Not (that was amazing). Liverpool calling was really fun too. It was a tiny place at the back of a pizza bar but it was one of the most fun gigs I’ve played this year- lots of sweaty love and everyone having a great time. There was lots of stuff to climb on too.
I know a lot of people note the resemblance (your lovely lead) shares with Kurt Cobian. Does that ever get boring or annoying? Is it something that has (perhaps unconsciously) influenced your sound?
Do my singer’s facial features influence the music I write? No, really really not. The amount of stick Jason gets for that is silly. People say he’s trying to imitate him because he looks a bit like him in the lower part of his face and he had bleach blonde hair for about a month. You can’t choose the way your face develops can you? It’s not like he got presented with a bunch of mouth and chin combo deals and said “I’ll have that one!” There is a certain musician that I think he looks up to a lot but it sure as flip is not Kurt Cobain. I don’t think he even listens to Nirvana; all I’ve heard him listen to for the past 6 months is Mac Demarco and Erasure.
On that note: which acts of the moment would you recommend? Any particular favourites?
Menace Beach, All the Best Tapes, Louise Distras; Salvage My Dream, Vukovi, Forever Cult, NARCS, Trash, Bruja
Having performed at various festivals throughout 2015; have you guys got into the ‘festival swing’- or is still a bit never-wracking?
There’s always nerves, but nerves are good. Nerves keep you on your toes. Nerves stop you from being too comfortable. If you’re complacent on stage you probably won’t give it your all and it will be obvious. I can’t see how anyone can go on a stage in front of loads and loads of people (and really care about what they are doing without) feeling even a little bit nervous beforehand.
Can we expect some new Allusondrugs music soon at all?
What goes into recording your music- in terms of influential themes and people? Does one member write a lyric/another music or is a collaborative process?
It all comes from the spiritual plain, I tap into it every so often and all this raw feeling and spiritual energy flows through the filters of my mind and out onto the paper or into the 4-track and I feel so connected to the universe. It’s a real trip maaaaaaan. I write the bulk of the tunes, Jason writes the odd one. Jason’s songs are a bit more green and mine are a bit more purple. We take the tracks to the rehearsal room, play them over and over until they actually start sounding like music; then somebody might suggest changing a certain part slightly (and I’ll be a complete baby about it and start throwing things).
If you could choose your dream festival line-up (of any bands/acts past or present) who would they be?
Cardiacs, Nirvana, The Beatles, Amy Winehouse; Robert Johnson, Janis Joplin- anybody else that I didn’t get to see before the split up or died.
A lot of great new bands- like Bi:Linguial- have split and called time. Do you think there is a lot of pressure for bands to succeed; do you feel like you have to hit targets/work to a particular beat?
Everybody wants to do well. It’s not a pressure to succeed; rather, it’s a desire to succeed. If you want to do well you have to work hard and think about what you’re doing. This applies to everything in life.
When you guys need to unwind/relax, what do you find most effective?
You want me to say drugs don’t you? (Moi? Hell, no! – Sam). I don’t drink or take drugs and I’ve recently quit smoking. If you look after your body and your mind you will find yourself not needing to relax that much. That said, sleeping and eating good food is amazing. I’m starting to think about meditation.
The band clearly has ambition and plans for the future. Were you to turn into an established mainstream act, could you see yourself changing your sound- or would you keep it faithful?
We’d do whatever we felt like doing.
You hail from Yorkshire- a county that is producing some fantastic new musicians. Are there greater opportunities (in Yorkshire) or do you have your own theories (as to why it is so fertile)?
I think people are throwing themselves into music more in this area because there’s not as much to do. It’s not just here though; Liverpool is also a hotbed for talent- there’s a lot of good stuff happening in Scotland. I don’t think there’s any more opportunity up here than there is in London for example, but there’s definitely a lot more “competition” in London, there are so many people in one place so naturally there will be a lot of bands in the same place. So maybe it’s just that the north isn’t as saturated as the south. I could be wrong.
In terms of your own music, which song are you most proud of and why?
I don’t have a favourite, I don’t think any of us do. There are one or two songs that are a bit more boring to play but people seem to really like them and it’s great to see everyone in the audience coming together and having such a good time so it’s worth playing them.
Your social media numbers are huge- expanding by the week. How important is social media with regards your creativity and success?
Social media has zero bearing on creativity; it’s just a promotional tool. But for that purpose it is extremely important, in a time where everyone is glued to Facebook on their phones (and laptops) it’s there that your promotion is best residing on a day-to-day basis. I’m not saying that good old-fashioned methods (like word-of-mouth and putting posters up and handing out flyers) aren’t all perfectly valid methods of promotion- but you should absolutely not neglect your online presence just because you want to stay oldskool (sic.) or whatever.
Not long ago, you recorded at/visited Abbey Road Studios. Given its heritage and history, was it weird- or does it seem like a natural home for you guys?
We had some mastering done there. It’s a massive place. It was really cool to see the place were so much important, historic music was brought to realisation.
What advice would you give to upcoming acts/bands- those who want to succeed/follow in your footsteps?
I’m not really in a position to giving advice because we’re still a relatively new band ourselves. All I can say is just work hard, work very (very) hard, all the time.
I always like to hear which albums/songs influence musicians. As a band- or each member can choose- which three albums have been most important to you?
This changes constantly. Right now it’s:
Menace Beach – Ratworld
Severed Heads – Come Visit the Big Bigot
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
With your music in demand, can you see the band moving (to London or abroad) or are Allusondrugs remaining where they are?
Right now we stay put. Maybe later we go somewhere else. Honestly I’m not particularly fond of this country; there are better places to live.
As you have been great sports, you can choose any song you like- I will play it here…
This is amazing!
Arca – Sheep (Hood By Air FW15)