Interview: Drugs Of Faith – White Punks On Hope

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 12:47 AM (PST)



Drugs Of Faith are one of the best take-it-or-leave-it heavy bands going today. A cultivated and honest sound, awareness of underground culture, electric presence… and they have lyrical depth to boot! Both poetic and socially engaged while full of great riffs for both rocking and grinding, DoF have yet to let me down. Richard Johnson and pals not only write great songs but Johnson also has one of the most blood curdling screams in all of music, a throaty howl that is relentless when he really lets it out beyond the general hoarse spoken shouts of most of the group’s material. But when the moment strikes and emotions peak, Richard can roar the head off any aesthetically stunted death core poseur.

I love that some stuff can still be found of solid quality in the metal spectrum that addresses social concerns, whether it be any given DoF release or, for example, the killer new Exhumed record Necrocracy.  Drugs are a band who, regardless of what I have going on, I always try and make time to cover when a new and substantial release comes out – because they just deserve it AND you owe it to yourself to hear them.

Drugs are one of the coolest, most meaningful bands out there and the good people behind CVLT Nation have just streamed the D.C. area based group’s bitching new EP Architectural Failures HERE! Give it a listen and rejoice then read this MR Exclusive with Richard Johnson right HERE.

How are you today? What is going on in the Drugs of Faith world (or just yours)?

Richard Johnson: I’m doing OK. Having a coffee before work and diving into your questions. Drugs of Faith is doing fine. We have our new EP coming out, and we’re pretty excited about that. We haven’t played a show since the gig at which we shot our new video, so I can’t wait to get back out there.

After Corroded, did you premeditate the sound of the new material or did it just come out this way? 

Two of the songs are new and two have been around for a while—we hadn’t recorded them until now. We felt like going more extreme as a whole on this EP, and also we wanted the recording to be a little more raw. By that I mean we let a couple things slide that we would have spent more time on with Corroded—we wanted to have somewhat of a feel of banging this one out.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the recent Government Shutdown, if you would be so kind. 

There’s been some limited criticism of the way the mainstream media reported on the partial shutdown (or slimdown, if you’re a Fox viewer), and it deserves to be criticized. Pointing the finger at Congress as a whole as the mainstream did wasn’t an accurate way of portraying what happened. The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party forced this issue of tying negotiations on Obamacare to the budget instead of keeping it separate. The sound bites like “negotiating with a gun to your head” and “holding the economy hostage” were accurate.

The Republicans then blaming the Democrats for not negotiating, and the mainstream press presenting that position without context, was part of the coverage problem as well. Democrats refusing to negotiate on “repealing or delaying Obamacare” is different from what they were actually doing: refusing to negotiate on “the Republicans blowing up the economy if the Democrats don’t agree to repeal or delay Obamacare.” And then the Republicans said, “The Democrats won’t sit down with us.”

I hasten to add that I’m not coming from a general “Democrats good, Republicans bad” across the board stand. I’m talking about this specific issue here.

Architectural Failures is a great title. It evokes both hope and despair. The ideal of reached for growth coupled with the crushing defeat of entropy and human failure. Nice! 

Thank you. There was no uplifting sentiment intended in the title. But I like what we do to be open to interpretation.


What is your favorite part about playing live these days? 

It’s good when we play a new song for the first time. There’s a bit of nervousness about that, at least for me. One of the things that was interesting about the opening slot we had on the Decibel Magazine tour in Philly this year was that I was really nervous before we went on. I haven’t felt stage fright like that in a long time, at least as far as playing distorted music is concerned.

Also, I love the feedback, the energy from the audience. It’s awesome when you can tell people are paying attention, and when they respond. For me, that’s what I’m doing this for: playing in front of people. Crafting music and putting together releases is great, but that’s just part of it.

Do you judge Drugs success by the popularity of other bands? I mean, I feel like DOF is very underrated and I always jump when I hear you have new material looming. What for you would be a benchmark for what you want this band to accomplish, now that more time has passed since you formed? 

Well, I have to agree with what Invisible Oranges wrote about us not being more popular: we don’t play enough shows. It would be great if we drew more people, and consistently, but we’re not on a large label and we don’t play as much as we should, nor do we work with a booking agency—not that that’s a requirement. There’s of course plenty of bands that have grown their fan base just by busting their asses on the road. So I’m not complaining.

Do you feel like Drugs of Faith is your comfort zone? I mean, these songs are very solid but don’t ever sound dialed in. 

I’m glad you feel that way. I don’t ever want to get to the point where we’re putting out the same stuff all the time, like we’re phoning it in. It’s a concern with me that our records don’t all sound the same, I mean, beyond them all having our signature. If we don’t know what a “Drugs of Faith” riff sounds like, we know what it doesn’t sound like. But again, we don’t want to be formulaic either, right?

We’ve thought about adding another guitar player, as there’s places where there’s room for one with lead breaks and layering of riffs, but that would complicate things also. It’s good to be a power trio.

What is some stuff in your music collection that would maybe startle people? 

 Let’s see. I own a couple of Letters to Cleo CDs. I’ve got some of my older sister’s LPs from when she was into 80s music and clubbing, like Modern English, Culture Club, Peter Gabriel, Pet Shop Boys. I listen to some soundtrack music. I don’t know about startling.

Pet Shop Boys rule, but can you share a memory of the first time you became aware of the power of “punk”?

Wow. I think I started going to local shows when I was in high school. Hardcore and metal and punk. The first ones I went to must have blown me away, how much fun and energetic it was. But it depends on how you define “punk,” doesn’t it? I didn’t realize until much later that punk is about what’s in your head and not necessarily the clothes you wear or the music you play, or even whether you play music at all. It’s a cliché but it’s true that punk is an attitude.



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