Drug Church’s ‘Strong References’ is a stormy cut of sarcastic, anthemic hardcore punk

Frontman (and comic book artist) Patrick Kindlon talks to NME about how his time as a nude model influenced Drug Church's latest punk-rock ripper, ahead of a run of UK dates

At once twinkling and terrifying, grizzly and gleaming, Drug Church‘s sonic concoction thrives on its duality. Taking the energy and aggression of hardcore and infusing it with a hefty dose of arena-ready anthemia, the New York punks’ take on rock n’ drawl is a sarcastic, sneering, yet also effortlessly catchy one.

Take ‘Strong References’, the latest track from their upcoming LP ‘Cheer’, which we’re premiering below. Flip-flopping between an airy guitar line and chest-rumbling bass lines in a way that channels the Pixies at their most acerbic, it’s a two-toned track that sounds ready for arenas one second, and fit for a sweat-soaked basement maelstrom the next.

Frontman Patrick Kindlon – who also fronts punk collective Self Defence Family, and lives a double (triple?) life as a celebrated comic book artist – is the sarcastic centrepiece of it all, barking and drawling like an America-raised Mark E. Smith as he eye-rolls his way through a tale of empty compliments. “You are the next big thing,” he sneers at one point, while the chorus finds him really letting loose – “You look good in that – I mean it,” he screams, “Maybe lose the shirt though.”

Below the exclusive first play of ‘Strong References’, we chat to Kindlon about making aggression accessible, and how Drug Church found their knack for cynical rock rippers.

Drug Church play the following UK dates this month, supporting Boston Manor.

21st September – Thekla Bristol
22nd September– Electric Ballroom London
23rd September– Mama Roux’s Birmingham
24th September – Rescue Rooms Nottingham
26th September – Hangar 34 Liverpool
27th September– SWG3 Glasgow
28th September– The Key Club Leeds
29th September– Gorilla Manchester

Drug Church seem to come from a hardcore punk background, but there’s also this big, catchy anthemic side to tracks like this and ‘Avoidarama’. How do you fuse the two?

Mix of personalities in the band. The guitarists love that big riff landscaper rock like Foo Fighters, whereas I’d sooner listen to [steel] rebar being cut. In some bands, that clash doesn’t work very well. But I think we’ve found the sweet spot where the guys who love anthems are happy and the guys who love barking into $12 microphones are also fulfilled. As far as how, I’m not really sure, though I suspect they’ve met without me and put a plan together to minimise the damage I do to an album.

Your lyrics are also a bit twisted and sarcastic-sounding, if you don’t mind us saying so. Where do you draw from for this stuff?

Once you hit 25, it gets hard to do ‘earnest’ with a straight face. You’ve heard the same sentiments delivered the same way too many times. Casual music fans can get by on the standard fare – the ‘heartfelt’ sentiments that avoid specifics, and rhyme in the prescribed fashion. But if you’re someone who has invested a lot of time into music, it’s difficult to be fulfilled by that material, even if you can admire the craftsmanship of it. So, what do you do? Put some spice on it. Add some personality and hope for the best. In this case, it’s a bit dark but not particularly grim. Which is how some might describe me, so it’s at least honest.

“Once you hit 25, it gets hard to do ‘earnest’ with a straight face”

– Patrick Kindlon

Talk us through ‘Strong References’. How did it come about? Are the lyrics based off personal experience?

Yeah, that one is real. Sometimes I sing about other people or things I’ve witnessed from afar, but this one is about me. I did some nude modelling when I was younger, but that wasn’t exactly my intention. I would end up in these situations where I’d be asked to get more naked than I anticipated. For some reason, I was thinking about that around the time this song was written. I was reflecting on the fact that somewhere out there someone has a bunch of negatives of my 20-year-old dong.

Let’s get down to the details – “maybe lose the shirt, though”. Talk us through this shirt. What’s so bad about it?

I mean, it was probably covered in flour from the bakery I was working at and smelled like body odour, but I think the real issue with the shirt was that it was covering my body and these fellas wanted a look at that chicken chest of mine.

“By being a truly incapable adult, I can streamline life enough to get some art stuff done”

– Patrick Kindlon

And Tony Ward – where does he fit into all this?

That’s a bit of a dated reference. There was a time that he was a legit big name in modelling. He was dating Madonna and all that. He has a big enough name that when it came time to write the song, I couldn’t think of a single other male model off the top of my head. So he’s the one referenced. I think I also think of him first because I had some friends who knew him and what they told me about his lifestyle really stuck with me. He’d go to Milan, make $50k in a weekend doing some runway or editorial or whatever, then come back in three weeks without a dollar to his name. As a certified Foolish Man myself, I respect Tony’s foolishness.

You also released a Self Defense Family record this year. Plus a whole bunch of comics. How on earth do you find the time for all this?!

By ignoring all the details of life. I don’t know where a tour is going until I’m in the van. Don’t remember anyone’s birthday. Been in a new house for a month and can’t begin to spell the name of the street I live on. By being a truly incapable adult, I can streamline life enough to get some art stuff done.

What can we expect from ‘Cheer’ as a whole?

Big choruses wedged between a man barking at the moon. Obscure references. Hummable songs that inspire fist-pumping. Stagedive music for petty criminals.

Drug Church’s ‘Cheer’ is released November 2 via Pure Noise Records.