Between Us (Morrissey) Fangirls - An Interview With Matt Hitt Of Drowners
It’s a cold Wednesday afternoon in Cologne when NYC based leather jacket lovers Drowners arrive for their first ever gig in Germany, supporting Cage The Elephant. It’s quite too late for a pre-gig interview, so we meet up with frontman Matt Hitt after their set outside the venue for a chat. And he had some confessions to make…
Sabina: Is there anything you can say in German?
Matt: Du bist schön wie eine Blume! [You’re beautiful like a flower!]
S: How do you know that?
M: A guy from Cologne taught me.
Vanessa: You’re playing with SKATERS, right?
M: We’re going to tour with them, they’re our friends. I used to play guitar in SKATERS for about 3 months because their guitarist quit.
V: I didn’t know that! I love SKATERS!
M: You love SKATERS? Who’s your favourite member?
V: I don’t really have a favourite…
M: Mine is Noah… and then – Mike, Josh, Dan.
V: Did you already listen to the album?
M: Yeah, I did. I’ve got it on my phone, do you want it?
V: Oh, thanks, I already got it from SPIN this morning, they’ve got a stream there.
M: Oh, something’s dripping from the roof, I hope it’s not piss.
S: 3 days ago I interviewed Temples here and was like “Hey you’re going on tour with Drowners” but they didn’t know you. How did it come about that you’re touring with them?
M: We didn’t know the Cage The Elephant guys either. It’s a lot of stuff that goes on with the booking agent. I’m actually fucking excited to play with them because they toured with The Vaccines and I heard that they’re very fun. I’m looking forward to it. They don’t know us now, but they’ll know us afterwards, because we’ll be drinking all of their beer.
S: You’re named after a Suede song. Which band name would you have chosen if it hadn’t already been taken?
M: The Cramps. I think The Cramps and The Clash are the best band names ever. But they were of course already taken.
S: The song “Let Me Finish”, is it influenced by Kanye West’s infamous incident?
M: I haven’t heard that one before (laughs)! No, it’s influenced by a girl I used to know. Well, I still know her. This is actually the only song I ever wrote on a train, in my head. I typed the lyrics into my phone and when I got home, I had a melody. I wrote it all in one go.
S: Trains are inspiring.
M: Yeah, they are. I like subways. And people argue on them – at least in New York. People arguing on the streets are my favourite. I walk especially slowly past arguments when I see one
S: You don’t listen to music?
M: No, I like listening to people talk instead. I write a lot of lyrics that way. “Let me Finish” is about umm… about bumping into an old girlfriend.
S: You have a degree in English literature.
M: Yes I do!
S: Who were your favourites to read?
M: My favourites…umm. Ernest Hemingway, JD Salinger, and I really like this poet named Gregory Corso. He was a Beat poet. He was pals with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. He’s my favourite poet.
S: Don’t you like the Romantics?
M: Yeah I do, who am I kidding? Yeah I do like the Romantics. My favourite would be Coleridge. The Mariner’s Tale. It’s a good one, isn’t it? [It’s called “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”]
(keeps pulling at his jacket) This new jacket I’m trying out, it’s too small. I got the other one in the bag, this is my first time wearing this.
S: You wanna go change?
M: (giggles) No no no.
S: You were compared to The Smiths and The Strokes. Which one is more flattering?
M: Err…I think they’re equally flattering. I mean, I like the energy of The Strokes and the musicality of The Smiths.
S: What about the lyrics?
M: Of course I like the lyrics, yeah. But yeah, I love them both the same.
V: She’s a Morrissey fangirl.
M: Oh yeah? So am I.
S: I always try to avoid talking about Morrissey but yeah.
V: At our last interview with Stephen Malkmus we talked so much about The Smiths.
M: Actually I have a Stephen Malkmus story. You know “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, the festival? I went to the one that Pavement curated. And the friend I was with was a huge Pavement fan and when we saw Stephen Malkmus, my friend kept looking at him.
He leaned towards me and was like “Dude, it’s Stephen Malkmus over there!” And Stephen Malkmus caught us looking at him, he finishes his conversation and then he just walks past my friend and he grins at him. And we were like “Oh my God, that’s awesome!”
V: He’s so charming.
M: He is.
V: And he still seems like he’s 20 years old.
M: Like me. Like me in a way (laughs)
S: You did two covers, you covered “Cigarette That Burns Forever” by Adam Green and “Sunday Morning” with Justin from The Vaccines. Do you plan to do any more covers?
M: We used to cover this song called “Little Red Book”. We might do that on the headline gigs. We did “Sunday Morning” because it was like a Lou Reed Benefit just after he died, so we learned it for that. And after Justin sang “Sunday Morning” I sang “Hangin’ Around”. So we might cover that one as well. No we don’t really plan to do covers, we just did them because it was…necessary. Like that Adam Green one, I had to pick a song from a certain number of artists and I know Adam from New York, and…I like that song a lot.
S: What Rock and Roll cliché applies to you?
M: We….get drunk all the time?
S: The leather jacket?
M: Leather jackets and getting drunk. Yeah I suppose so. But then again - it gets cold in New York and a leather jacket’s quite warm. And we drink a lot. We have a pub next to our practice space, so we spend every day there. It’s quite easy to get drunk. I made the worst mistakes in my life when I was drunk.
V: But it’s good for creativity.
M: I disagree. I only write sober. I never write when I’m drunk. Sometimes I come home drunk and I write down lyrics. And when I read them in the morning I’m like “this is fucking shit!”. But it is good for having a laugh.
S: The BRIT Awards are tonight. Among the nominees for “Best British Group” are Arctic Monkeys and One Direction. Who do you think is gonna win?
M: I hope the Arctic Monkeys win, because their last album is fucking incredible. And I went to see them in Madison Square Garden last week and it was amazing. So I hope they win, it was the best album for ages. No offense to One Direction though.
S: Yeah their album was quite good.
M: I’m a big 1D fan.
S: Who’s your favourite?
M: Who do you think?! Harry Styles obviously!
I love Harry Styles, I love Harry Styles! But I think Zayn is gonna be the one with the big solo career.
S: What’s the most impressive gig you’ve ever been to?
M: I saw Savages last year. I only knew one song. They were playing outside and it was like the hottest fucking show I’ve ever seen.
S: Mine was Melody’s Echo Chamber. I went to see Tame Impala and she opened for them, she was so good.
M: I like that dude called Cameron who plays bass for them. He’s fun. I was once best mates with him. He’s very amusing. (imitates Australian accent)
V: Are there any new releases you’re excited for?
M: Umm there’s a band from Brooklyn called Wet. I saw them play a few months ago, they’re really good. I think they have a new album coming. I don’t know, we’ve been practising all the time, so I haven’t really been to gigs for a while. So, Wet. They’re really good. There’s this song called “Bad Idea” and it’s the fucking best song.
S: But you did see that Morrissey is going on tour?
M: I did see that, yeah. Tom Jones is opening for him. I think I’m gonna see him in New York.
S: Have you met him?
M: Morrissey?!!! I met Johnny Marr a couple of times, when he played with The Cribs. I saw him play a few months ago in New York.
S: Oh with Andy Rourke?
M: Yeah yeah yeah. I met Andy Rourke a few times.
S: Most importantly: When are you coming back to Germany?
M: I hope very soon. This has been my favourite gig so far. Paris was good last night, but I really like the venue here. I like how cheap the beer is. It was like 7 € for a pint last night and here it’s like 2€ for a bottle.
Tonight was good because it was fucking loud. In France they have a law that you can’t go over a certain decibel. So yeah, we’re definitely coming back.
Interview by Sabina and Vanessa Pictures by Stephanie