The British band Drenge’s June 15 performance in Baltimore will be its last stop on the U.S. end of their tour – but Rory Loveless wants you to know that his group isn’t ready to wind down in the U.S. or elsewhere.
In the face of accolades and air time from David Letterman, the group that was unknown two years ago isn’t just handling the rigors of touring – they’re gearing up for more.
“I don’t really know what to do but carry on,” the rocker muses to me. “So that’s what we’re doing, basically.”
If Rory Loveless knew the secret to his band’s sudden stardom, he might be tempted to form a new one and be manager. The ascent that Drenge has enjoyed in the last 18 months has been an extraordinary string of firsts: first release of a U.S. single, first public mention by a member of Parliament, first appearance on American television as of their January debut on the Late Show with David Letterman. Now the group composed of Rory, his brother Eoin Loveless, and a recent addition in bassist Robert Graham is bringing its brand of blues-punk rock to Baltimore, capping a four-day blitz of America’s Northeast.
Castleton, Derbyshire, might be the very last place you’d expect to have nurtured the latest pioneers of punk rock – and Rory agrees. The town in rural northern England with fewer than a thousand inhabitants doesn’t have much use for punk rock – or the two brothers who have won national acclaim before reaching higher. “It’s full of old people, really, who don’t care so much about all that,” Rory told me in our phone interview from Seattle. “If it’s not stopping them having their afternoon tea, everything’s fine with them.”
The rest of Britain wasn’t so blasé. “Be the great Labour leader you can be,” a former MP wrote in his resignation letter to Parliament in 2013. “But try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge.” A small but intense local following bloomed into something more as the group – just Rory and Eoin, at the time – traveled from festival to festival opening for stars like the Arctic Monkeys, who a decade ago were on a similar trajectory.
“They’re a fantastic band,” Rory says of the Arctic Monkeys. But Drenge has an even bigger influence. “The punk rock scene in the U.S.A. is what kick-started this band. Groups like Thee Oh Sees. We just wanted to put a load of energy in the band and they’re in my opinion the most energized bands on the planet right now. We also like watching Kanye West on YouTube because he puts so much into his performance and you just feel like you’re here.”
As they had the chance to prove for David Letterman, a Drenge performance is nothing if not lively. Now they’re promoting Undertow, their second album since their self-titled creation Drenge made the charts in 2013.
The group will be performing at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery at 8 p.m.
William Dahl is a recent graduate of The College of William and Mary, where he majored in Government and studied abroad in La Plata, Argentina. He has worked for community foundations in Argentina and Miami dedicated to community engagement and prosecution for human rights abuses. A native Virginian, he moved to Baltimore in 2013 to join a financial research firm, where he enjoys being able to write on the side.