photographed by PETE VOELKER for SHK N4

New York City’s Post-Punk/Britpop quadrant, Drowners, met incidentally… The way people meet when they move to New York and travel through inextricably linked social circles. In late 2011, the band’s  unequivocally charming frontman, Matt Hitt (singer/guitar), moved to NYC via rural Wales. Spurred by the city’s ardent movement and cursory attitude, the downtown scene provided the impetus for him to focus on creating new material. Soon after,  Hitt found himself bandmated with musician friends Jack Ridley III (guitar), Erik Snyder (bass) and Lakis Paylou (drums). “It was super organic. No one made a flyer saying, ‘Trendy Lower East Side Punk Band Seeking Members!’” he says, noticeably straight-faced over a sip of draft beer. I can’t help but laugh at this; I’m not sure he wants me to. “We all came to know each other from friends of friends, and from hanging out at the same spots and talking about music.”

Stepping out with a debut compilation is a defining moment, one Drowners chose to approach with the same carefree attitude that preludes their infectiously cool Post-Punk sound — opting for the DIY, sans publicist approach. While playing their way through the milieu of the Indie Rock landscape, the guys found themselves thrust under the emotionally encapsulating reality of what it means to be an aspiring artist living in Manhattan. Even when the pressures of gigs with random temp jobs, bartending and DJing piled on, a location change was out of the question.

“Not to sound too cliché, but it’s almost a Manhattan vs. Brooklyn thing… The reason we like Manhattan more, why I like Manhattan more, is because there’s such an urgency to do stuff,” says Hitt. “It’s almost desperation, in that it’s pretty much unaffordable. That’s something people may not understand… Unless you are Kings of Leon, you can’t afford to live in the city just doing music. I think that desperation comes out in the sound.”

During those budding stages, Drowners’ released the well acclaimed 3-track EP Between Us Girls, featuring the popular “Long Hair” track, and found themselves amongst an enthusiastic response and proper media praise. “For Between Us Girls, I wrote a batch of songs and we recorded demos of them over at Erik’s house,” explains Hitt. “It got re-tweeted by someone and caught the attention of Nick Hodgson, former drummer of Kaiser Chiefs, who was looking to start his own label. Then those demos got re-mastered and that’s what became Between Us Girls.”



Six months into it, the fashionably conscious Drowners’ found themselves signing an ink deal with Frenchkiss Records, recording a debut full-length (alongside producers Gus Oberg and Johnny T) and opening for another Britpop-influenced act: Arctic Monkeys. “I was a little skeptical at first, because all the shows were sold out before we got on the bill. But as we were loading in — because Arctic Monkey fans will wait outside from like mid-afternoon — we saw some of them wearing Drowners shirts,” says Hitt. “Actually, I was just talking about this with someone, there was a switch that happened at those shows. You know, as a band when you’re first starting out no one claps when you come on stage… Then they’ll clap after the first couple of songs. But on this tour, at one point they started clapping for us as we went up on stage, which kind of felt like a big thing.”

The band recently released “Luv, hold me down,” the first single from the aforementioned debut album, showcasing a seemingly romanticized ruse of youthfulness with an emphasis on good times. Deemed by their label’s head honcho, Syd Butler, as “ready to take over the world,” Drowners’ are hitting the road in the name of promotion, allowing their live show to further seep into the Indie world’s consciousness. “The main thing now is a lot of touring… We have a good time,” nods Hitt. “We wake up and then have some food, then go play a gig, which is what we do in NYC anyway… It’s like a traveling friendship.”


More DROWNERS here.