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The Drones

Perth, Australia, has a reputation as being one of the most isolated major cities in the world, with most of a continent separating it from Australia's other big population centers and the vastness of the Indian Ocean facing it on the other side. Little wonder, perhaps, that the Drones initially formed on the basis of two people getting out of town in 2000. Guitarist/singer Gareth Liddiard and guitarist Rui Pereira, formerly of the Gutterville Splendour Six, had gained some attention -- even a bit of John Peel airplay -- but felt that the music scene was dying on its legs and, after an abortive first version of the group, relocated to the east, first to Sydney and then to Melbourne. Local advertising turned up drummer Chris Strybosch, formerly of the Stunt Car Drivers, while bassist Fiona Kitchin was invited to join them there, so she made the trip from Perth as well. The inspired combination resulted in even more inspired music, hot-wiring a frenetic blues/trash-rock heritage in the vein of earlier Australian legends with similar overseas inspirations, with Liddiard's often extreme vocals the killer touch. A self-released EP and series of performances around Melbourne gained the Drones swift attention, eventually resulting in a label offer from Spooky for their full-length debut in 2002, Here Come the Lies. Further touring led to some initial overseas appearances; however, while the group's second album was recorded in 2003 for Spooky, the Drones wanted to look for another label to release it, resulting in some delay while the band raised the money to buy back the tapes. The sophomore album was eventually released in 2005 as the brilliantly titled Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By, which, as the group's first full international release (thanks to the All Tomorrow's Parties label), gained the group even more exposure, matched by a series of energetic tours. Strybosch was in the meantime replaced by new drummer Mike Noga, and the end of 2005 found the Drones planning an even more extensive series of dates worldwide. That same year saw the release of The Miller's Daughter, followed quickly by Gala Mill, the latter of which was nominated for the 2006 Australian Music Prize. Havillah, the band's fifth studio long-player, dropped in 2008, with the J Award-nominated I See Seaweed arriving in 2013. Feelin Kind of Free, the group's seventh full-length outing, followed in March 2016. Drummer Mike Noga died on August 27, 2020, at the age of 42.
© Ned Raggett /TiVo
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