English four-piece Drop Down Smiling recently released their brand-new single ‘The Fear Of Missing Out’, so now seemed like the perfect time to catch up with the band. Lead guitarist Mike Brown drew the short straw and filled in the blanks on our introduction to Drop Down Smiling. Check it out below, and don’t forget to crank up ‘The Fear Of Missing Out’, as well as giving the band a follow on their socials…
DGM: What are the origins of the band, and how long have you been playing together? I believe there was a hiatus period?
MB: The four of us have been playing together since the age of 16. We had a few different guises/band names and styles, but as Drop Down Smiling about 9-10 years with various gaps!
DGM: How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?
MB: I’m trying to remember when the first proper gig for the four of us was! I remember a few early gigs and definitely feeling a mix of nerves and excitement, but we have always been quite military with practice and prep for anything we do, so for the majority of performances, we have drilled the set.
DGM: What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe Drop Down Smiling?
MB: We’ve always had trouble placing ourselves in a particularly specific genre; it’s obviously in the realms of modern rock but that’s still quite a broad description. Previous producers we have worked with have said System of a Down meets REM, Nine Inch Nails meets Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and the most recent is Bring Me The Horizon meets Biffy Clyro. Personally, we’re not too sure, but if you like a broad range of rock music, light to heavy and hopefully fresh-sounding, then we should at least have one song you like!
DGM: ‘The Fear of Missing Out’ is the new single. What was it about this one that made you choose it as a single? What are the lyrical themes behind it?
MB: We released a song last year after a long period off, then Covid hit and we had a couple to finish off which proved difficult. Finally getting this one done, after not having heard it for a while, we had forgotten that it was probably one of our favourite recently written tracks.
Definitely aptly titled, The Fear of Missing Out addresses the social pressures of ‘fitting in’, the issues we face, and self-destructive habits we form while under constant bombardment from ‘the-grass-is-greener-rose-tinted-glasses’ lifestyles presented to us on social media.
It’s a song about the anxiety that comes with comparing your regular life to the highlights of others’. Fuelled by the desire to be connected to others, especially this year, it’s about the skewed sense of ‘normal’ that develops when your main outlook on the world is through the glowing brick in your hand.
DGM: What goes through your head in the run-up to releasing new music? Are you excited? Nervous? Both?
MB: Our first proper release was under a different name, and was back in the day when it was CDs and digital downloads and no streaming. We were pretty thrilled to get our single stocked in HMV and similar stores and played on Kerrang! How things have changed! It’s still amazing to release music but we definitely miss the physical nature of releasing music on CD. This one is a strange one as it’s all on streaming sites and not even a gig or tour to promote it!
DGM: Are ‘The Fear of Missing Out’ and previous single ‘Profiles’ indicative of what a new album would sound like? Are there plans for a new album?
MB: Short answer would be “yes” in terms of sound but “no” in terms of album haha! We released a full album back in 2016 but the landscape has changed so much since; it seems most bands release multiple singles or short EPs to bring more regular content out rather than an album every XYZ time period. I think we might look at doing a number of singles, as many as we can, then maybe a full compilation of these.
DGM: In what ways has the band grown over the last few years?
MB: Since 2012 we had a big re-invention and really pushed ourselves to diversify and improve. This included a bit of a style improvement and all of us improving vocally, so we heavily combine close four-part harmonies and live work with electronic samples.
DGM: There is a strong mix of rock and electronica with Drop Down Smiling. In your opinion which band, through the years, has managed this mash-up the
MB: Way back when, I’d say Klaxons, Enter Shikari. Currently, Nowadays, Bring Me The Horizon, Don Broco. We recently discovered Yonaka who does this well, but more subtly. I think you would be surprised how many bands use these kinds of techniques live as it massively expands what you can do, definitely a less-is-more approach to blend well with the more raw sounds of distorted guitars and so on.
DGM: In terms of a similar audience, who would be the ideal act for Drop Down Smiling to support?
MB: We all have different musical heroes so to speak, but collectively I think opening for Don Broco or Biffy Clyro would go down nicely!
I remember watching Brandon Boyd from Incubus talking about genres and audiences and saying that they felt privileged to be able to play Reading and Leeds (more mainstream) festivals, as well as appearing at Ozzfest and Rock Am Ring (heavier/alternative) the next week, so in a roundabout way I’d like to think we are placed in a similar category – I could see us supporting heavier acts as well as more mainstream artists.
DGM: The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent. In what ways do you feel a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
MB: Speaking personally, the bands I’ve been discovering lately have just had a bit of a fresher feel to them. Not that I care to admit it, but my attention span is lower than it used to be, so a band really has to grab me with something hooky and new.
DGM: What are your first musical memories? And what was the light bulb moment that made you go “I want to do that!”
MB: It might not be fashionable to say this nowadays, but I think we were all influenced by the Nu-Metal scene of the 2000s. Some tracks from that era you would prefer to forget, but there are a lot that stand up really well now.
DGM: Who has been the biggest influence on you becoming a musician?
MB: For myself, it was Iron Maiden, Metallica, Zakk Wylde at age 14-ish.
DGM: What current social issue are you particularly passionate about?
MB: We’re all quite big on the ever-worsening climate issue.
DGM: What is the album that you have in your collection or Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
MB: Hmm, I think there is some Enya in there, and Eurovision 2017 – 2019; a pretty cool selection.
DGM: Although 2020 was a year to forget, there was some great music released; what would be your album of 2020?
MB: ‘Bring Me The Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror’, and ‘Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings’.
DGM: Who would you class as an underrated songwriter?
MB: I could list about a hundred, but I think two bands that never really got the attention they deserved were ‘Canterbury’ and ‘Arcane Roots’. If you haven’t heard any of their stuff remedy that right now!
DGM: What are your plans for 2021 should COVID ever disappear?
MB: Firstly, maybe have a band practice and see if we can remember how to play any songs, then we would really like to do a few UK shows and tour Belgium again.
DGM: How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
MB: So everything is @dropdownsmiling, but here is a handy link with all of them on.
Stream The Fear Of Missing Out here.