Dry the River, a dynamic band from east London, opened for Alabama Shakes on Tuesday, July 31 at The Vogue. This line-up reflects a trend in eclectic mixes of genres on single shows. The roots rock and soul of Alabama Shakes paired with the post-rock and folk elements of Dry the River made for an interesting evening. I sat down with guitarist and singer Peter Liddle before soundcheck to ask how touring has been.
"I mean we're more or less always on tour. We get really bored if we're in one place," Liddle says.
Just as the band gets bored in a single place physically, they constantly shift their style musically. Dry the River's debut studio album Shallow Bed showcases a range of talent and innovation. At their most assertive they are soaring vocal harmonies, sweltered by driven bass and drums, overlain with furious melodies from the violin. At the band's most intimate they are chamber singers with muffled, distorted guitars, pumping bass and drums now turned slow and thoughtful. This band has every vital characteristic - an original sound, a dynamic range, and English accents.
The band members personalities are as diverse as their sound. Will Harvey was classically trained as a violinist before contributing to the group, while Jon Warren played drums as a homeless DIY punk. Liddle was an energetic frontman for hardcore bands. Along with Matt Taylor and Miller, Dry the River was formed out of metal, punk, and hardcore bands from each members' pasts.
The band started when Liddle broke away from his past in hardcore punk and tried writing the music he listened to as a child.
"I'd written these acoustic songs really, and in my head they were just going to be like acoustic songs, then it just so happened that the rest of the boys, who I knew from other bands, they all moved to London," he says.
Liddle felt that he was forcing the folk elements to rise to the top in the music as the band came together. Eventually they let their influences creep into the mix.
"It was a lot more fun for us to play live if we could let ourselves go a little bit more, so we just kind of landed on this sound that's halfway between the two. It was quite an organic thing," Liddle says.
Halfway through their set, Liddle looks out to the audience through sweaty strands of long hair which stick to his face. They've charmed the crowd with their innovative style and the live post-rock experimentation they indulge in between songs. Even older audience members seem enthralled by the band's energy and originality. An elongated build-up ending to "Lion's Den" was the peak of the band's performance in every aspect. Taylor strikes furiously at his guitar, producing a delay and effect soaked post-rock melody, while Liddle shouts periodically into the microphone, with Miller, Harvey, and Warren giving it their all.
By the time that Alabama Shakes took the stage most were ready to dance. The group's newest album Boys & Girls contains tracks for all types of movement - from the easy sway to rocking hop. Since its release in April of this year the band has received widespread acclaim, performing on The Late Show with David Letterman and Conan. Singer Brittany Howard's raw vocal power blasts through the crowd, earning shouts, cheers, and an encore at the end of their set.
Both bands played the Lollapalooza festival this weekend in Chicago. This is Dry the River's third run through the U.S., and they love to travel.
"We try to be tourists as much as possible. I think it would be a shame to travel through America and not really experience the cool stuff you can do," Liddle says.
The band plans to start recording their second album in December and January, while on a break from their tour life. Liddle says that he wants to leave his expectations open for the next record.
"We want to really get stuck in and see what happens. I have much less of a preformed idea of what I want the record to sound like just to see what happens. I think that could be really fun," he says.
For the full interview between Jordan Martich and Peter Liddle of Dry the River, click here.
Alabama Shakes - "Hold On"
Dry the River - "No Rest"