The time of year has once again emerged; the rain falls, the skies adopt a wearisome shade of grey, and melancholy becomes a regular acquaintance. It’s unfortunate, but it’s quite simply an inevitability, and so we at ItDjents believe you should endeavor to embrace it with open arms. To give you a helping hand in doing this, we’re very pleased to present to you this week’s official Weekly Featured Artist, Driftless. This brand new, Minnesota-based trio are already taking steps towards proving their worth as ambient and atmospheric experts with a thoroughly striking brand of instrumental post-rock. This outfit have managed to amalgamate something truly emotive; a fitting companion for any bleak, autumnal afternoon. Let’s take a closer look.
Driftless are formed of a modest three members – guitarists Tony Viegas and Evan Partridge, and drummer Grant Lillvis. A minimalist lineup, but a simultaneously effective one. To kick off our interview, the boys gave me a brief outline of the how band’s inception came about, in addition to the concept behind the name:
Driftless was formed shortly after most of the band moved to Minneapolis, MN. Grant and an ex guitar player of Driftless used to jam post-rock in their college house basement while Tony and Evan also played in the same band. After the guys’ previous bands didn’t work out, they were looking to start a new project that was different for everyone. Eventually the four rented a practice space and began work on writing what would eventually become “Still. The band is named after the “Driftless Area” which is a region in western Wisconsin that was untouched by the ice age glaciers. Most of the members met in college which lies in the northern region of the area.
The character of the Driftless sound really is all about the atmosphere; for the most part, the songs consist of a percussion-based backbone of slow, accented drum beats, a variety of chord progressions, and hauntingly beautiful lead melodies that soar over the top of the mix. Every element contributes towards painting a stunning picture, but for us, the signature sound of this band comes in the form of the epic, ambient tremolo leads that often formulate the hook or concluding sections for the songs. In this regard, the work of master stringsman Scott Carstairs (Fallujah) comes to mind. Each song serves to create an uncanny aura of utter melancholy, almost as if it were specifically designed for you to listen to whilst driving down lonesome country roads in the middle of the night, or whilst hiking through stunning landscapes. Once again, the guys offered us a few words on the subject:
We want to write songs that kind of make you pause and take your thoughts in new directions. The title “Still” is based on this aim. We want the music to feel very calm yet hit you right where you need it to and make you feel a certain way. We don’t see ourselves as a standard post-rock band either. While we all enjoy listening to a 20 minute Godspeed song and questioning our existence, we find ourselves writing songs that are more manageable in length and more to the point.
As has become somewhat of an ItDjents custom, we went on to question the guys on how they would describe their music in just a single word. The nature of this question has often proven to produce some fairly arbitrary responses in the past, which is understandable, but in this instance the guys opted for the word ‘Landscape‘. This is as fitting an answer as we could possibly think of ourselves; the product these guys create is truly representative of an eclectic and colorful canvas, bearing not only a variety of music styles, but, more importantly, evoking a range of emotions. As far as we’re concerned, this is a rare feat.
Driftless are an outfit that we feel represent something rare, and truly great; a combination of simplicity, a subdued approach, and sheer beauty. Despite being a brand new band, they’ve clearly been able to make a true sonic statement through the Still EP, laying a solid framework and foundation for their sound, and leaving us with the unequivocal assumption that there’s more to come. In addition, whilst this is an outfit that fit loosely into the rock category, we certainly wouldn’t hesitate in urging any music fan to give it a shot. The take-home principle is that the Driftless sound is one that will inspire, move, relax, and determine; this emotional impact is something we assuredly attribute to the mesmerizing atmosphere and ambiance that is present throughout. What we’ve stumbled upon here is the potential for absolute gem, and being a brand new band with just one EP in their back-catalogue, all we can do is hope that this band will emerge into the scene with all the might and prowess that we believe they’re capable of.