On the surface, Drug Church is just another hardcore punk band. They play fast and loud. Vocalist Patrick Kindlon often sounds angry. It’s the kind of music your grandma would probably hate.
But underneath their aggressive facade, the Albany quintet’s catchy melodies and dark humorous takes on current societal and cultural issues make their tunes — like the ones on their brand new album, Hygiene (out now on Pure Noise Records) — as profound as any more “mature” artist. Drug Church is able to sing about topics and connect with fans who would likely be turned off by some self-righteous band with a “message” so to speak. Hell, even Kindlon himself doesn’t want to hear about his lyrics being anything of particular importance.
“I think any profundity in music is best when it’s accidental,” Kindlon says. “We wrote a record that we think is fun, and maybe there are a couple moments in it where you pick something profound, or in some small way transcendent, or at least meaningful. That’s the best way. That’s how music is supposed to be. The bands that try to be deep or try to mean something to you — I think they ultimately look silly. I just would like people to stage dive, and if they get something out of it, that’s awesome.”
SPIN spoke with the vocalist and songwriter ahead of Hygiene’s release to learn about Drug Church’s fourth album and more.
SPIN: How do you feel Hygiene compares to the previous Drug Church albums?
Patrick Kindlon: I consider it a really nice companion piece to [2018’s Cheer]. This is me being as self-aware as a musician as I’m capable of being. I think it’s as good as [Cheer], slightly more melodic, not corny and pretty fulfilling. That’s the best I can offer. It is as melodic as I’ll allow the band to get. This is not good salesmanship, but the songs are strong. I don’t have any epic story about how it was a painful time in my life and I had to overcome that. It’s just a fucking good alternative, aggressive record. It makes me want to stage dive.
With Drug Church now over a decade old, how have you seen the band evolve and grow from a little side project to a really beloved group over the years?
Well, we only really started making money on it in the last couple of years. It would be easier to say, “Oh, wow, we really got something here!” if we had been blessed enough to be making money early on. I think that if you don’t make money on something for a long time, you don’t see it through that lens, you see it as much more real in some respects, because it’s something that you worked toward for a long time. When you work a long time to make a little bit of money, you realize that it could have just easily gone the other way — or it could go the other way tomorrow. To me, it’s still just something I stumbled into.
Aside from Drug Church, you also still have another band with Self Defense Family, a few other creative projects, and a day job on top of that. What’s the secret to balancing all of those schedules at any given time?
I’m not even that busy. I think it would be very easy if I was even 10% smarter. The only thing that makes this hard is that I don’t have the most organized mind. I think that somebody who was enterprising and entrepreneurial — and didn’t watch hours of YouTube a day — could do what I do very easily. If I had twins or something, that would be a problem, but I don’t think there’s any challenge here. I play music, I write comic books, and I have a job writing for video games. Two of those jobs I can do remotely, and the music is only time-consuming in the respect that you’re in a van all day. But being in a van all day — if you were a very focused person — you could spend two of those six hours and get a lot done. Honestly, being a touring musician in this new world where you can work remotely for your entire life might be a little bit unique, but it’s not difficult. Anybody who would say, “It’s a real challenge, man” is full of shit. For most people working an office job, they’re [at the office] for eight hours, but how many hours are they actually working? So if you apply that to what I do, I could work two hours a day and then go to the venue and perform — which is a soundcheck for 20 minutes and then play later for 45 minutes. I should be getting more done. I’m just sitting in a van all day, so the fact that I haven’t written the great American novel or become a captain of industry is pretty fucked up.
Coming off of the success of Cheer — which you’ve said was your most “professional” recording process to date — what was it like going back into the studio this time?
Well, we got to spend more money, which is cool. Shoutout to Pure Noise for that. But that’s only half the equation. We’ve worked with some really quality producers in the past for our records, but when we found Jon Markson — who did Cheer — we found a real collaborator. He made it a comfortable thing where nobody is slacking too much and nobody is grinding too hard. It’s what you would call an “ideal work environment.” When you’re lost, somebody is there to tell you what you should, at least, try. When you’re getting lazy, somebody is there to tell you to pick up the slack. When you’re being too much of a prick, somebody is there to tell you to calm down. But it wasn’t significantly different than any record that we’ve done, except that I was away the whole time because of COVID stuff.
Speaking of COVID stuff, what was that like to see the ups and downs of the pandemic while you were getting close to releasing this album?
It was a little frustrating, because my personal schedule is a nightmare for bands in the respect that my girlfriend lives in Perth, Australia. That’s where I’m supposed to live right now, but I can’t because of COVID stuff, so I haven’t seen her in two years. We were actually going to tour during January and February, but I said, “No, I think Australia will be open. I need that time off.” It turns out that I inadvertently made the right decision for the band, because a lot of people got their shows canceled or didn’t have great attendance, but I still couldn’t go to Australia. Now that the border is open, I’m on a six-week tour — which, as you can imagine, is very frustrating for my girlfriend who hasn’t seen me in two years. In terms of my anxieties moving forward, I’m not an anxious guy. I think we’ll probably be good through the summer, and I’m hoping that European stuff is reasonable with navigating different countries’ COVID rules. I have concerns going into the fall and [next winter], but overall, I feel good. We might get boned by COVID at some point, but I think things will be pretty awesome. Every time that COVID locks people down, they really want to celebrate when they get out and have a good time. The shows that were happening this past fall were bananas when things opened up, because people were just so happy to be enjoying some music. I think we’ll see a little minor version of that again — or at least I hope. Or maybe I’m deluded.