Radar Band Of The Week – No.32: Dry The River

Dry The River: meet the folkies with punk blood in their veins

It’s an absolute dive,” says Peter Liddle, cheerily, when describing the cosy Monkees-style residence that all five members of Dry The River share in the insalubrious surrounds of Stratford, east London. “Imagine a student house but 10 times worse; I live on a mattress on the dining room floor,” he adds. “We’ve got miraculously tolerant neighbours.”

With a rehearsal room in the basement, you’d hope that they were, but for a band brought up on the hardcore racket of At The Drive-In and Refused, the sound that Dry The River make isn’t as neighbour-torturing as you might expect. Despite all having spent their formative years playing in various local punk bands, their current project is a touch less abrasive.


“I went off to uni in Bristol and wrote a bunch of acoustic songs in my room. It was just a natural thing – it wasn’t a Road-To-Damascus kind of conversion,” explains Peter of his sonic about-face. Initially recruiting transient musician mates to help him in the studio, the current incarnation of the band have existed for a year and a half and are readying themselves to ride the crest of the post-Mumfordian folk boom, recording their debut later this year.

If their demos are anything to go by, they’ll be doing so with Fleet Foxy harmonies and delicate, pastoral melodies that explode into barnstorming, heady choruses which give a heads-up to Muse, Jeff and Tim Buckley and, oddly, on forthcoming single ‘New Ceremony’, Meat Loaf.

Lyrically, they trawl a rather different sea to the Loaf; for starters, we can’t quite imagine the drivetime rocker crooning about dancing to the shipping forecast. Instead, the band bow down to the wise wordsmithery and religious imagery of Leonard Cohen. “I read an interview where he was saying he’d written about 50 verses for ‘Hallelujah’ and he was sitting in his hotel and beating himself up about it because he just couldn’t quite get the words right.”


Hopefully, Dry The River will stay away from such self-flagellation over the coming months. They’ve every reason to.

Need To Know
• Peter was born in Norway to a British dad who worked on the oil rigs, and he didn’t live in the UK until he was six
• Guitarist Matthew Taylor fractured his arm last year after falling off his bicycle. Thankfully the only thing it buggered up was the video for
‘Bible Belt’.
• Last year the band had some gigs in traditional folk music venues in the Outer Hebrides and coastal Scotland, mostly “playing to 20 fishermen”.

This article originally appeared in the January 29 issue of NME

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