"I feel like this has unlocked something in me that allows me to enjoy my life instead of falling into a state of masochism"
A new D.R.U.G.S. album is now out in the world via Velocity Records, and you should already be obsessed.
'Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows' finds the band on ferociously fantastic form, pushing post-hardcore into exciting and exhilarating new places via the means of crushing riffs and expansive ideas. It's grand, gorgeous and gruelling all at the same time, and one of the most welcome returns of 2022 so far.
To dive into how it came to be, we sat down with Craig Owens to talk about creation, catharsis and change...
How does it feel to have a new D.R.U.G.S. album out in the world after so long?
"It feels amazing. It was an album that almost wrote itself. It was a very subconscious experience, and it's very healing to be able to release it at this time. Anytime you release a piece of music, I feel as though it is healing because you are sharing a part of yourself. I am just a vehicle, so being able to share my life experience with others feels like my purpose. It feels good to have it connect with everybody as well. It's been going over so well. COVID definitely held us back for a minute, but it also allowed me to write that little bit more, and it also allowed me to go into the studio with someone like Howard Benson. Everything happens for a reason, and I am glad to be here with this body of work."
So what happened after you released 'King I Am' back in 2020? How did you feel as though the reaction to that was, and how did it influence what the next step was going to be?
"I think with that song, I just wanted to let people know that I was back making rock music. It was the first rock music I had made outside of a small grindcore project I had done for fun in a long time. It was me saying, 'You can expect more, but here's a little something to show you I'm serious'. It only lives on YouTube now, and I love it because it adds to the lore of the project. If you were there at that moment, you know about it, and you could feel the excitement around it, and you can relive that whenever you want. I like easter eggs and having to search a little bit to put all of the pieces together. It all adds to the bigger picture."
So then, what was the plan?
"It was all about starting to write the record. The music always comes first, that's what matters the most. I had to let so many moments overtake me, because that's where the catharsis I get comes from. From then vocalising experiences that I have had, whether they be through actual lyrics or through riffs and melodies, and sacrificing myself a little bit to the process. I'm blessed to be able to do that and to have been able to do that for so long. So the focus was very much on piecing everything together in a way that honours the project and the moment that I am in currently."
So within the experiences you were pulling from, what made it right for D.R.U.G.S? What were the central emotions that kept on cropping up?
"I think that in terms of the writing, a lot of it has to do with grief. In order to move on in a project, or even in terms of your personal life, you have to go through these stages and waves of grief as they hit. The thing is that I don't actually know what a lot of the record is about. I was so subconscious that I detached as much as possible. And because of that, this was the easiest record that I have ever been able to make. I think that every collaboration along the way allowed it to blossom that little bit more, all from that central feeling."
And in terms of finding those collaborators and the collective of people within the band now, what did they bring to the table? How did you let them know what was suitable for what you envisioned?
"I would say that in the past, the energy in collaboration was different throughout my various projects. But this time around, we didn't really talk about it. Jona [Weinhofen, Guitar} got it, and I didn't need to add anything. The same when working with Mitch [Rogers] from Varials, where we focused even more on sound design. D.R.U.G.S. is a particular thing to me. It's fast and aggressive with low tuning, Nightmare Before Christmas production and a great song on top. That's what it's all about. And everybody involved understood either because they were familiar with the project or they understood what I wanted to do."
Having the time and space must have really helped in that as well? You didn't really have a deadline after all…
"I'm meticulous and take pride in my music, and I'm aware that this is my chance at immortality. This is what will live on after I've gone. So, making all of it at a time when I could do that was important. And I feel like, along the way, it connected in all of the ways that I wanted it to. It's sometimes difficult for me to write for one thing, despite writing every day. Every one of my projects has a different sort of writing within it, and this D.R.U.G.S. record is not different. So putting my head down, doing the work and not judging what came out the other end was the best way of approaching things. I could be writing five or six songs a day sometimes, and every one of them would feel like surgery. Just thinking doesn't actually accomplish anything, so it's a case of moving your feet and doing what you can to get it done."
The idea of not judging what comes out of the other end is interesting. Is that something that you have found has become easier over the years?
"Hindsight is always 20/20, but I would say at the beginning of my career, I never overthought anything just because I was grateful to be making music with my friends and doing something that I was proud of. I didn't have time to overthink it. But there have been some moments, maybe at the start of the second wave of my career, where the overthinking started. It was within the freedom of my schedule that happened. Coming into all of this right now, I realised that when looking back, my biggest successes were in the moments when I didn't allow myself to get in too deep on what it all means. I ultimately enjoyed the experience much more as well. Letting go made for a really easy and genuine experience and allowed me to really love the songs. I feel like this has unlocked something in me that allows me to enjoy my life instead of falling into a state of masochism."
To have been able to learn and understand that this deep into your journey can only breed positivity, and it makes whatever the future holds all the most enjoyable as well…
"The only constant thing is change, and I feel like I have done a lot of work on myself over the past few years to allow those lessons. That comes from all sides of who it is that I am, from lifestyle to work ethic. My focus is always to get better at the things that I love. It's really rewarding when you can come out to the other side and recognise the growth in pursuing your goals. I consider this a new beginning in a lot of ways. I feel like I have unlocked some great things in what I can do, and I can't wait to put out a tonne of music in the future that reflects and surrounds that. D.R.U.G.S. is my focus, and this isn't going to be a one-time thing. That was always my plan. But I'm just excited that I'm being able to move forward with that plan taking place. I feel like it has helped me heal some of my past in ways I didn't expect, and every night when we play these songs, that will continue."