The Barfly is the biggest cheese of all
“You know what, man?” grins Matt Caughtran, The Drips’ sweet, dough-faced frontman, “That was the raddest thing ever. I love those dudes – because I’ve always been one of those crazy dudes. To have guys like that show up really means something – when dudes who listen to GBH 24 hours a day are coming to your shows… It’s not like The Drips are a hardcore band, anyways…”
Perhaps not when placed next to GBH, but The Drips’ breakneck punk-rock plugs deep into the more melodic vein of SST Hardcore (Husker Du, Descendents), their flab-free pop – played out on swaggering metallic guitars, nailed down by machine gun snares and illuminated by Caughtran’s kerosene-doused bellow – very much a sunshine-flip to Caughtran and guitarist Joby J Ford’s day-job in steroidal thrash-punks The Bronx.
“It’s sort of a ‘circle of friends’ thing,” smiles Matt, unthreading the groups’ tangled family trees. “Vince and Dave (bassist and drummer, sons of Los Lobos guitarist David Hidalgo) were childhood friends with Joby, and he played in their group. I joined, and we became the Drips. Then Joby and I started writing songs that didn’t really fit with the Drips, and that’s how The Bronx started.”
The Drips hit the back-burner while The Bronx rode the success of their self-titled 2003 debut, a brutish rush of shrapnel guitars and deadly dynamics you really should own. When the pressure of recording the follow-up, their first for a major label, began to tell last year, Matt and Joby were glad to blow off steam with The Drips.
Which is where The Drips came in. Re-ignited, they added Distiller Tony Bradley on second guitar, dusted off the songs they’d written six years before (and wrote a couple of new ones) and got into the studio. The result - a blistering eleven-song amphetamine-ripped dash - is gloriously kinetic noise candy, tunes painted in frazzling neon guitars as Matt howls along as if ‘Oi!’ were the sweetest sound he ever heard. “The
Examples of The Drips’ unabashed pop sensibility include interpolating a slice of Men Without Hats’ 80s New Wave hit ‘The Safety Song’ into careering closer ‘Coastline’, drubbing Matt’s vocals with dubby echo on the lightning-strike ‘Downbrown’, so his voice scars audible traces into the galloping melee, and ’16, 16, Six’, the group’s ballad. Unfolding to a sugary skank The Police would’ve approved of, it’s a Teen Love story that’s honestly awkward, clumsy, painful - not unlike Teen Love itself. Judging by how the screamo boys yelled along to lyrics like “This is the story of a broken heart / I tried to love but it fell apart”, striking heroic poses like they were some sozzled divorcee singing ‘I Will Survive’ at Karaoke, it could make The Drips huge.
“If it sounds awkward and naïve, that’s because I wrote it a long time ago,” offers Matt. “It was the first love song I ever wrote, and it was about my first girlfriend, who I was with for seven years. It was a tumultuous relationship.”
For all their phosphorent ferocity, The Drips onstage are mostly defined by Caughtran’s amiable, excitable charisma, grinning non-stop, like every moment – sharing his mic with the moshpit, leaping into their out-stretched arms – were his best ever. Which is pretty much the truth.
“Shit yeah, man,” he affirms. “The