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The Drift Collective

Spanning a network of vilages from Sussex to Devon, Drift Records formed at the end of 2005 following various ‘collective’ activities. They’ve evolved into a full recording releasing and touring machine, and its musician head honchos are set to head out across Scotland and the UK. Alan Souter spoke to co-founder The R.G. Morrison.

itm?: How are you?

The R.G. / Drift: Alright, thank you for asking – yourself?

I’m very well thank you very much. So where does this Q&A find you?

I am in a small office in London. One side of which has me listening to some CD’s that Dunc Red Deer from Manchester gave me and writing out some ‘catco’ details for the forthcoming Drift releases; the other side of the room has me on the phone as I am a booker at a children’s modelling agency. It’s the perfect balance.

Tell us a bit about the Drift Collective, who’s involved, what’s the story!?

Er. Johny (TPoB) and I started Drift because we wanted to release records exactly the way we wanted to, in our heads it was something along the lines of Sub Pop and Track and Field. Find a great band, hang out with them, then take a risk and release EXACTLY what they want to. The Collective keeps stretching, but we have four records out now, four more produced (Mary Hampton, Nada, Tandy Hard and Matt Eaton) and we just announced that we are going to work on Albums with Thomas White (Electric Soft Parade) and The Tenderfoot. There’s the second album’s from Johny and I, Cottonmouth Rocks, Caruska….We’re also trying to court some Scottish scoundrels as well.

It should all be clearer by the end of the year… we’re just trying to release as many of the awesome noises we have under out hats as possible.

The recently released ‘Drift Collective’ CD has been picking up some great reviews, what was it like making/compiling the album, did you all play on each others tracks etc… in true collective spirit?

Yeah, totally. I think that when Fence termed “Collective” people used it to class a group of bands that were a bit similar, but in all honesty I think if you don’t coherently all collectively contribute to one another it’s a really misleading moniker.

There’s a lot of crossed branches in the Drift family tree, and I think that it has attracted more people to get involved is it is collaborative. It’s exciting to know that one of the collective will always bring something to one of your songs.

Are you looking forward to touring as a collective?

It’s a lot of fun, and I am sure there will be some stage sharing. It would be ideal to take out everyone, but logistically it is becoming harder not easier. The Drift orchestra will appear one day!!

Drift has so far released 3 albums plus the compilation and they’re all packaged beautifully – Where do you get the wee brown envelopes the initial Drift releases came in, very cool?

Ta. Yeah, they are lovely and it was the perfect way to introduce what we were doing. I have always been involved in the Drift Record Shop (Totnes, Devon) so I have seen A LOT of packaging come through the doors.

I just had an idea about each release being like a letter to who ever bought it, and as luck would have it the shop is two doors up from a paper specialist, so I just kept trying things until I found a combination that fitted. Then it was a case of exploding lighters and hot wax for hours on end. I think people thought I was doing junk.

Unfortunately it means that the stock is always “live” – so some shops wouldn’t take them as they were ideal for the thieving crowed. We have gone across to a more commercial friendly packing now, but we made sure that the quality was really high digipacks so it still felt like something special.

We are going to be releasing EP’s and live collections on our CDR label D.ft.I.Y, which will be back in a more low-fi packaging again… just got to work out how to fit them together?!

You actually recorded your album in a Church in one day – how was that experience.

Freezing!!! it was very clam, and very serene, but we did suffer with the temperature. Also Steve Grainger annoyed God with constant swearing, blasphemy and smoking, so he punished him with a lightening bolt to his laptop… the original plan of “purely Analogue” was rather forced upon us with a reel-to-reel tape machine…. Sounded right though when all was said and done.

I’d love to do something there again.

Has the label detracted from your own musical ambitions? (ie logistics, time-wise, ins&outs of running a label and being a performer! etc…)

It’s hard going. We feel a lot of responsibility to do the best possible for the Drift artists. They are all friends of ours now, so they have to bear with us (out of guilt) – but we do put them all first, so behind the day job, ordering for the shop, releasing records… actually writing and performing for me has become about fifth in line.

I have pencilled my second album into the release schedule, so I have to record it now…

Your proudest achievement so far?

I have no idea. Perhaps that I got invited to an industry meet and greet thing… they soon realised that I did not have any business cards so stopped talking to me.

Umm. I am very proud to be releasing Matt Eaton, Tandy Hard, Nada and Mary Hampton. They are ALL brilliant; so it makes us feel like the labels we set out to be.

Best piece of advice you’d give to aspiring musicians or labels starting out – or the best piece of advice you were given when you started?

Make sure your songs are real. Write about real things, and sing in our own voice because you have to give music fans more credit that to try and trick them… they’ll all hear through it.

If you’re good then opportunities to write and record will find you. The whole industry is on its knees now anyway, so being signed by a major label out of obscurity just won’t happen anymore…

But then what do we know? If you want to be famous just buy NME and do what ever is popular a bit faster, with a more pronounced accent than the last lot.

What’s next for Drift?

Work out how we are going to afford to release these deluxe packaged releases, and hopefully continue to meet all the good people who like to listen to them!

We’re in it for the long haul.

The Drift Collective (featuring The R.G. Morrison, Mary Hampton and Thirty Pounds of Bone) are on tour, calling at:

28 Feb 2008 – Tunnels 2, Aberdeen
29 Feb 2008 – Market Bar, Inverness
01 Mar 2008 – The Observatory, Glasgow

More at www.driftrecords.co.uk