Forming from the ashes of Marc Sunderland’s Peter and the Wolf, Liverpool-based The Drifting Classroom are gearing up for their debut release, Oubliette – out 8 July (Skinny Dog) – but are already eager to start their second. They launch single Doo What at Manchester’s Night & Day Cafe, 6 July, before touring (full dates below).
Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
Because our influences are so varied, we normally have trouble answering this one. We get compared to a lot of different artists – from the Eagles and ELO to The Shins and Squeeze – which normally reflects who the listener is and what they take from the music, which I think is a great thing. In terms of influences, Elliot Smith, The Beatles, Paul Simon and Nirvana are big ones for all of us. We all have strongly opinionated musical tastes, but would include the likes of Pink Floyd, Mississippi John Hurt, Radiohead, John Barry and The Doors among many, many others.
How have you evolved as a band over the years?
Marc’s previous band Peter and the Wolf were a straightforward three-piece folk-rock band, so it’s been a real evolution and challenge to be playing as a full five-piece band in terms of arrangement. We’ve become increasingly collaborative in the process of making Oubliette – working towards a common goal of creating the best music we can is the best part of being in the band.
Were there any alternative band names before you arrived at this one?
The name 138 was seriously considered for a while, as this number haunts Richie everywhere he goes. There are a few subtle references to this on the album cover artwork, if you look close enough.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We’re currently working on the follow-up album to Oubliette, which we’re hoping to start recording towards the end of the year. We learnt a lot from doing this album, so looking to push the envelope further with the next one in terms of songwriting, recording and production. Sounding great so far in rehearsals, so really looking forward to getting started on it.
How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
Primarily, by making the best music and art that we possibly can, which is why we’ve produced this album specifically with vinyl in mind as the true” format. In addition to sounding better, for us the whole physical package of an album is an extra connection to the music, and a massive benefit of the current vinyl revival. The artwork turned into a real project of its own off the back of this – the album name actually came from the cover artwork. Not losing sight of the business side of music is hugely important also, however, especially given the changes to the industry with the advent of social media and internet audio services (iTunes, Spotify, etc) in the past few years.
What’s on your rider?
Always bottled water. And towels.
Tell us about your worst live show.
We’ve not had any particularly bad shows so far (fingers crossed!), but have had a few occasions where stage monitors have malfunctioned mid-set. Trying to stay in time when you can’t hear the other guys on stage definitely gets the adrenaline going.
The Drifting Classroom play:
•Wednesday 6 July – Night & Day Cafe – Manchester
[‘Doo What’ Single Launch w/ Skinny Dog Records]
•Thursday 14 July – Hull – The Adelphi
•Friday 22 July – Wigan – Old courts
•Monday 1 August – Amsterdam – Paradiso
•Friday 19 August – Liverpool – The Zanzibar
•Saturday 20 August – Blackpool Bootleg