Dreaming of a bigger life than their sleepy hometown of Fleet and with self-awareness transuding from every sonic pore, Drug Store Romeos crafted The World Within Our Bedrooms. In the shimmering wake of its release, Hattie Kilner caught up with the fast-rising indie darlings on all things colourful and introspective.
Our interview begins with arguably one of the most important topics in the world. My cat. Or, as far as any of the members of the band can tell, the rather chubby grey blob in the background of my ‘professional’ workspace (the sofa). Johnny and Charlie from Drug Store Romeos and I have been asked to chat between ourselves for a little while before the interview begins and so, as a (completely self-proclaimed) expert at chatting utter crap, I don’t hesitate to sing her praises while she, in turn, claims the screen time she always so deservingly demands. After gaining herself a career as a mice-removal service for the boys, we turn to the topic of music.
I’m really interested to find out how the band would describe their sound; it’s dreamy and otherworldly and, despite being well versed in ‘obscure Spotify genres’, I can’t quite put my finger on it. Thankfully, the boys come to my rescue.
“I’d say we’re lo-fi indie meets seventies keyboards with a nineties influence.”
“I always want to answer this question slightly differently every time I answer it,’ muses the band’s drummer, Johnny, “I’d say we’re lo-fi indie meets seventies keyboards with a nineties influence.” Charlie, the guitarist, looks deep in thought. “Yeah I agree. I feel like we have a few defining characteristics. We’re definitely ethereal, I’d say quite melancholic, minimalistic, introspective… there’s a bit of suburban in there, dream-pop is our genre really, but combine that with shoegaze… definitely some post-punk threads, especially with the drum line, we’re also psychedelic, synth-y, I guess have more modern indie vibes, and add in new-wave dreamy. It’s all quite nostalgic really!”
Left both impressed and still a little confused, we move onto the band’s relationship with colour which is so prevalent in their social media. Jonny pauses a second before replying, “colour is something we’ve always strongly associated with music and have always used to describe songs to each other. Especially with us doing ethereal music I think the presence of strong colours are very important for us. We’re trying to get across how we all see the world and I think it translates to everyone else with the fact that we’ve always tried to convey it with our artwork, press shots, and music videos.” I note that it reminds me of a series of books that I read when I was younger which centred around synaesthesia.
“Yeah totally!” Charlie agrees, “I think we’re all probably low-level synesthetes. Every corporation of melody we make has shape and colour in our heads. As we create the songs, we’re adding a visualisation in our heads. There’s a lyric in one of our songs that I really like, it goes ‘your Tuesday’s yellow, so is mine’ and it’s about someone else’s Tuesday appearing yellow in their heads and how it’s cool that theirs [the speaker in the song] is the same.”
When asked about how they incorporate this into their shows, Charlie laughs “it’s taken us quite a while to work out how to sound good live, so now we’re there we’ve finally reached the stage where we can warrant spending time on the lighting. I’ve recently started to master this 3D software where you can put the song on a timeline and it synchs with the song. It should all be very cool.” Naturally, I can’t move on without asking the all-important question, “if you had a colour to represent you, what would it be?”
‘You can’t speak to [Drug Store Romeos] without feeling relaxed, as if talking to some friends from your hometown.’
Charlie takes his time considering this before taking me (virtually) to his window in order to show off a holographic purple eyeshadow in the light: “Definitely something with iridescence, probably purple.” Johnny decides on a light blue that caught his eye in his room. “It just seemed to speak to me.” While I am cautious of sounding too much like a hastily made Buzzfeed quiz, I must agree. The relaxed, otherworldly feel of the band’s music seems to translate directly to its members. They’re undeniably cool, softly-spoken while confident, playful while meditative. You can’t speak to them without feeling relaxed, as if talking to some friends from your hometown.
We finally move on to the main topic in question, their new album The World Within Our Bedrooms. “It actually was partly recorded from our bedrooms. In some of the songs some sounds are included from the demos we recorded entirely from our rooms. I think there’s something really appealing about making music from home, there’s no time pressure and there’s an element of spontaneity combined with the ability to sift through sounds for hours.”
The album has been years in the making for the band and I’m keen to know how they got to this point. “We’re finally fully and totally happy with the body of work that [the album] is. There’s been points in time where we could say we were ‘ready’ to release it, we had enough material and had spent plenty of time on the scene, but we’re finally really happy with it. This album’s really trying to shift a balance between our hi-fi aspirations of making songs that can be played on the radio and our love of really lo-fi tape recordings by artists who never went beyond their town but made these really wonderful, personal records that you’d never hear.”
In theme for the interview, we finish on a silly note. Charlie answers my question first ‘If I could have anyone opening one of our shows…’ He thinks for a minute, “oh, I’d go for Alice Coltrane. She’s made some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.” Johnny also gives the question its due thought. “See, it’d be cool because we’d be able to be there and watch it. I’d probably say Angel Olsen.” We all agree that this would be a great show.
Btwz, new album’s out now and they’re playing Dot-to-Dot in Nottingham in Sept (wooo).
Written by: Hattie Kilner
Edited by: Olivia Stock