‘High energy stoner rock’ might be a contradiction in terms, but it perfectly encapsulates Druganaut’s riff-heavy, doom ‘n’ groove sound – one which they’ve taken to stages across the UK (and even Ibiza) over the last five years.
The Newcastle act make a return to Hammerfest in North Wales this week, two years after their debut at the annual metal shindig, and they’re in the mood to get the party started, as vocalist Craig Relf explained to Richard Holmes…
RUSHONROCK: How did you find your Hammerfest debut in 2014, what stood out about it?
CRAIG RELF: It was a bit of a mixed bag of emotions really. We had played Hard Rock Hell a few months before which was our debut for (organisers) Chic Festivals and it went so well, the room was filled to the brim and the crowd loved it. When we played HRH we clashed with a ‘hair metal’ band so people who were into metal came over to see us, unfortunately when we played Hammerfest we clashed with Corrosion of Conformity! I remember getting on stage and looking out at about 100 people in a 2000 to 3000 capacity room and my heart sank… luckily for us COC played a stinker and within our first couple of songs we had the room full, and it was business as usual!
Hammerfest certainly got us a lot of attention and a lot of new fans. It was definitely a turning point for the band.
RUSHONROCK: What’s changed for Druganaut since then?
CR: The biggest and most noticeable change is that we are now a four-piece. We recently parted ways with one of our guitarists, so Hammerfest will be the official debut of the new, streamlined Druganaut.
RUSHONROCK: What makes Hammerfest special? It’s obviously very different from a lot of large scale rock festivals…
CR: It definitely has a very different feel to other festivals. I enjoy camping as much as the next idiot but it’s really nice having somewhere decent to stay and knowing that everyone else there is there for the same thing: great music, great people and a great party atmosphere.
RUSHONROCK: What’s happening with new material?
CR: We have been writing new material and getting it out live and we are currently working on a new EP, which hopefully will be getting a hard copy release some time this year.
RUSHONROCK: You played Hard Rock Hell Ibiza last year, how was that experience? It must have been a bit of a contrast to your normal gigs?
CR: It was awesome, a holiday in the sun with loads of mental rock and metal fans! That’s the thing about Chic Festivals – when you go to one of their events you get accommodation and the show so everyone’s in the same park or hotel. There’s a real feeling of family, of community and you find a lot of the same people go to shows over and over again because it’s so welcoming. They really do a great job.
RUSHONROCK: And what about the Hard Rock Hell Doom versus Hard Rock Hell Stoner show in Sheffield this October? How did that come about – and how do you feel about sharing a stage with bands like Torche, Candlemass and Orange Goblin?
CR: Every time we have played one of these festivals we have always had an amazing reaction from the crowd and they have asked for us to come back time and time again, and to the credit of the organisers they listen and give the people what they want. It’s going to be an awesome show with some great bands. We can’t wait to strut our stuff and hopefully continue to build our fanbase and reputation.
RUSHONROCK: Druganaut has been a key part of the North East metal scene for a number of years now, how has that scene evolved in that time – and what does it take to make it at a national level?
CR: The local scene was dead on its arse about eight to ten years ago due to a serious lack of talented bands and promoters. Now I think we’ve got one of the best and varied scenes in the country due to the hard work of younger promoters and some amazingly talented musicians.
It’s a pleasure being a part of it as with there being many great bands, everyone has to step their game up. If I have any advice for bands wanting to make it on a national or international level it would be to network, contact bands from other cities, organise gig swaps and most importantly, don’t be a dick!
RUSHONROCK: What’s next for Druganaut?
CR: We have had some interest from labels about releasing our new stuff and we are hoping to sign a deal sometime this year. Once the record is out we really want to get on the road and tour worldwide.
RUSHONROCK: Finally, will your famous shorts (or any wrestling gear) make an appearance at Hammerfest?
CR: Of course! There’s nothing like a fat bloke in tiny shorts to get the party started right and although there will not be any wrestling gear I do have something special lined up for the show…
Druganaut play Hammerfest VII, Pwllheli, North Wales on March 10 and HRH Doom vs HRH Stoner at the O2 Academy Sheffield, October 1-2, 2016.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/druganautband/
Photo by Gordon Armstrong.