"The best part is when the sun drops and it turns to night - down-town L.A. completely changes and so do the people haha... "
Swapping the back streets of London / Essex for the sun-soaked pavements of Los Angeles should be an easy task surely? Well for Joe Crudgington it's worked out alright, although for the time being he's back in London. Being the frontman of Industrial Rock / Metal outfit Drownd brings it's own challenges as he goes on to explain during our interview with him, but things on the other hand are sweet too - a label signing, an album release later this year and a full live show to come... Joe talks to us about this rollercoaster ride and why metal is close to his heart.
Hi guys so firstly how does it feel signing to Armalyte Records?
"Hi Rhys! Yeah man, it was a great thing to sign up to Armalyte at the start of last year. It's nice just for a bit of recognition that people are into your stuff and it's not just yourself grinding away thinking that you're writing good stuff. The guys that run it are great too - massive music fans that have been in the scene for ages so they know what they're talking about, plus their roster includes some pretty impressive artists (PIG, Cubanate, Chemlab, plus loads of others), so it's quite an honour to have my name, DROWND on there with them. They're just a really nice label to deal with and genuinely care about the quality and content of the finished product - the way to be as far as I'm concerned."
Given the nature of the band in terms of the line-up, you must be excited to finally showcase your music live at the end of the year?
"Ah for sure - DROWND did it's debut show on the 10th December 2019 at The Black Heart in Camden with Riotmiloo supporting. It managed to pull a decent crowd for a first show, as really, no one had any idea what to expect - people had basically just put a load of faith in me and hope haha... It could in theory have been a total s**t show, but alas, as a debut, I think it went really well - sounded great thanks to all the hard work programming the live set, rehearsing it up and visually I think it came across pretty well. Definitely plenty of room for improvement, but a good first show to get under the DROWND belt. There will be big changes to visuals, stage attire and line up changes in the future too, so plenty of exciting stuff for the DROWND live shows if this pandemic bulls**t ever leaves us to crack on and pick up the pieces."
Given you're into Marilyn Manson, NIN and Gary Numan, etc were they artists/bands you grew up listening to, or was your music landscape totally different?
"I've always been into heavy music since I was a kid - I mean I think I speak for a lot of people my age when I say that I was massively into the music that was on the soundtracks of games like Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Matt Hoffman's BMX, Dave Mirra's BMX etc... These tracks were like a gateway into Manson and NIN - I mean when I first listened to NIN and what Reznor was doing, it blew my f**king mind man - I'd never heard anything like it - the songwriting, the sound design, the production and engineering of the records, etc - just something else entirely.
I still listen to these artists literally everyday, alongside a lot of soundtrack / score work (the American Beauty score has been being played heavily recently) and also since I found out about him a while back, I've been well into an artist called Ghostemane - I love his heavy, evolving, genre spanning music and he's got the images and visuals as well as a savage live show to back it all up. Skynd are another one - again, great sounding original, well produced music but with concepts, visuals and a live show to back it all up - the full package."
Last year you moved to California, what was the transition like from living in the grey streets of London to the sun-soaked boulevards of Los Angeles?
"Whoa L.A. is a crazy ass place - that's for sure. It's worlds apart from other cities like London I think - people seem somewhat more inclined to help and collaborate out there. I mean I've been fortunate to meet some great and talented people in my time there and would consider to be good friends too. The weather out there helps massively, I mean, where I was, you'd get up in the morning, virtually guaranteed sunshine and crazy high temperatures, have a swim, have some breakfast and then crack on with writing music.
The alternative music scene seems a lot bigger out there too with plenty of different gigs going on all over. It's quite an inspiring place to be too - I mean, I love down-town L.A. - a lot of people hate it, but it's so f**king weird and scary in certain areas that you can't help but be inspired. The best part is when the sun drops and it turns to night - down-town L.A. completely changes and so do the people haha... At the moment I'm back here in London which seems like an absolute world away from L.A. what with the current pandemic sticking its teeth in nicely, but fingers crossed this s**t will be over soon and I'll be back out there asap."
Do you feel that in recent years the Industrial - Goth blend has had a resurgence of sorts? Or has it been chugging along nicely?
"Hmm I'm not really sure - I think it's always been there and always will to a degree. I think every now and then an artist or two will make it big from kinda within that scene, but as far as my experience goes, the goth / industrial stuff has always seemed pretty insular - just my opinion. That said, the fans and people involved in the goth scene are HUGE supporters which is great and they are genuinely interested and care about the music that you put out."
Joe, you undertook red carpet duties at both The Heavy Music Awards and Metal Hammer Golden God awards - talk us through your emotions that night.
"Haha yeah that was great for sure - it was bizarre. I mean, we would be knocking about backstage and then Ozzy Osbourne would just casually walk past... It was also the first time I met Skynd too who were there and involved with the event which was great."
Given the state of the world as it is with COVID-19, do you feel it's more important than ever for musicians and fans to engage together in any way they can?
"It's a weird time to be in at the moment, isn't it? So much uncertainty. That's what is doing me in, the fact that I can't plan anything - we've already had one DROWND show pulled thanks to COVID-19 which was supposed to be at the Lounge in Camden which will be rescheduled at some point. The other band I play in, Sulpher, has had loads of dates cancelled and re-arranged which sucks - we literally played 2 shows in Toronto JUST before everything got shut down - we only just managed to get flights back to London haha! If I'm honest, I'm highly doubtful we're gonna be doing any live shows for the rest of 2020, I mean, I've basically resigned myself to it all kicking off again in 2021, but fingers crossed I'm totally wrong and we can get back to live shows and some sort of normality. But in the midst of this lockdown I have been writing like nothing on earth and it's the best sounding stuff I've written to date in my opinion, plus I've got tonnes of ideas for videos, images etc which we are currently filming and putting together as part of a real special release. Watch this space.
What are your plans for the forthcoming year? Do you have any greetings you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"I think I kinda rattled on a bit with the last question and semi-answered this one. But yeah, my plans are basically finish what I'm working on (which I'm very excited about) and see what people think of it. Then I'd like to see where we stand with live shows and get some worthwhile gigs booked up. There's also some exciting Sulpher dates lined up too with a few festival slots and a couple O2 shows and maybe some small tours later in the year, but it's all a bit hush hush for now and just waiting to see where we stand with this current pandemic. Time will tell.
Thanks for your time mate, Joe."