Brooklyn based duo Drive - In are back with their debut EP This Is Not A Rom -Com, inspired by their love of the DIY indie and punk scenes, they've come together to create something so incredible, but something that perfectly describes them, check out their interview below with our writer Minna.
How did the two of you begin your musical journey? Ally: I got into music from a really young age. I used to look through my dad's vinyl and live concert DVD collections, and I have vague memories of watching Fleetwood Mac's The Dance on TV with my parents. I remember being in awe of Stevie Nicks and her stage presence. It really spoke to me, and I remember wanting to do exactly that so badly! Then the next big moment for me was when I was six. I remember being at Mass (I went to Catholic school. We went to mass weekly.), and we were singing some random hymn, and this kid in front of me turned around and said, "Wow! you're really good!" I got so shy and hid behind my hymnal, but I never stopped singing after that. Then as I grew up, I got very into pop punk and the whole Warped Tour scene and the alternative music scene. Both communities, in general, have given me so much joy and catharsis and ultimately got me seriously into songwriting in the first place. I learned how to sing and harmonize by listening to bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mayday Parade, hellogoodbye, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and Paramore over and over again until I got it right. Those communities inspired me to learn how the voice works and how to express myself, and I wouldn't be the singer I am today if I hadn't been so obsessed. Mitch: I've always been playing music since I was a little guy. I recall seeing Phantom of the Opera when I was ten and was blown away. Like almost in tears. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to chase that feeling and be a part of it. I've been writing tunes and playing guitar since I was fourteen. Started off with interests like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Audioslave, and Linkin Park. Then as I got into my late teens, I leaned more toward John Mayer-type stuff and got into Blues and Jazz. I always had a soft spot for metal as well, and maybe some of that bleeds into my tunes subconsciously, haha, but I don't play much metal. How did 'Drive-In' form? Ally: I met Mitch through a mutual friend in 2019. I was looking for someone to help with some music I had been working on cause I felt like I was on to something, and my buddy Frank Poma told me about Mitch. We met, creatively clicked, and the rest is history! Where did the name 'Drive-In' originate? Ally: Before working on this project with Mitch, I was brainstorming names with this other dude named Ian, and I remember we had come up with a short list of names that we thought were cool and conveyed the thought. One night I was at a party with my friend Quinn Devlin, who's kind of an honorary band member, and he started talking about how everybody thinks they're the hero of their own coming-of-age story. I don't know why that stuck with me so much, but after that conversation, I thought of what I wanted Drive-In to be, and I wanted it to be music that could kind of soundtrack your own coming-of-age story. That's how I've thought about a lot of the music I write, so with that in mind, I started thinking of things that encapsulate that cinematic and transient feeling. Drive-In just came up, and it felt really good. After we settled on a name, I thought it was funny that it ended up being somewhat referential to the two sides of music I grew up listening to, which were the DIY-indie music world and the emo/punk scene. There are two bands that I love, one called At The Drive In, which is a hardcore band, and then the other is Drive Like I Do, which was the original name of The 1975. It's funny how all these little things in your life kind of line up, and then that just makes so much sense. A lot of creatives collaborate, but what was the push that made you both think, "this needs to be released for others to hear." Ally: I think a big lightbulb moment for us was when we really started to flesh out "Narcissus." It was just such a vibe, and we both got so excited about what we were doing with it. I think the only logical step after that was to work on a full EP! Mitch: For me, anyone with a unique voice and story is worth hearing. I think a lot of artists play it safe so when I hear honest relatable lyrics it really catches my attention. I heard Ally's lyrics and thought I could contribute instrumentally and help bring them to life. How does your collaboration process work? Ally: From my perspective, I do write most of the lyrics by myself. I mean, Mitch gave a couple of suggestions to help fine-tune some of my thoughts. Most of the time, and even still, I'll be sitting down or on a walk thinking about something, trying to process the experiences I've had or things I'm dealing with, and it'll just pour out of me. I'm not the best at talking about those things or experiences with people. In discussions, sometimes it can be challenging to verbalize how I'm feeling, or I feel like I'm bothering people with my problems, but if I'm writing it down, it forces me to confront it and think about how I'm feeling. A lot of the time, I'll think of a hook or phrase and stick with it until it all flows out of me. It's almost like I had a therapy session. Then I send it to Mitch, and I'm like, "Hey Mitch, here's a song," and communicate with him about what I'm hearing in my head instrumentally, and we'll just like work through it until we're both happy with it. "This Is Not A Rom-Com" is spectacular! How would you both describe the EP? Ally: I'd say sonically, it's a really moody body of work with very warm, organic sonics. Mitch: The process of making this EP began before Covid, so it got stretched out quite a bit. Some of those tunes are maybe 3 years old at this point, and it kinda feels like I've always known those songs at this point, haha. The instrumentals feel like that to me as well. I love the warm, rich tones and the surfy folky textures with a sprinkle of emo over the top. I haven't heard it done too much in this way, so it was cool to make something that, to me, feels unique. Why the name "This Is Not A Rom-Com"? Ally: I mean, first of all, we thought it sounded cool! I think the deeper meaning, though explores how life isn't like the movies where everything gets solved by the third act. It's not the most groundbreaking observation out there, but life is full of twists and turns, and all we can do is our best to navigate them. In the grand scheme of all the songs and concepts I have in mind for the band, it made sense for this first record release to be titled with such a declarative, expositional phrase. I wanna say more about the overall vision I have for the band and future release concepts I've been thinking about, but I don't want there to be any spoilers.:) You're very honest throughout the EP, especially in "The One Before," what inspires you to explore these very raw emotions through your music? Ally: As I said above, songwriting is one of the few ways I can healthily process my experiences and emotions. This record explores complex feelings like anxiety, intrusive thoughts, self-doubt/hate, and complicated relationship dynamics. Everything is super personal, and I hope when people listen to it, if they've gone through similar experiences or have similar feelings, they can find comfort that someone else can relate to them. You guys play around with your sound a lot on the EP, each song has a very distinct vibe ("The One Before" is this very emotional ballad with psychedelic-esque guitar, whereas "Narcissus" has a very surf rock guitar with these pleading vocals), what inspired you both to explore your sound like that? Mitch: I think they're a reflection of the lyrics to some extent. "The One Before" feels a little more depressed and sad but powerful. It has some repeating lyrics, so an arpeggiated, somewhat repeating guitar line felt appropriate. It needed to be a bit slower so you could sit in the sadness. "Narcissus" feels more like a "fuck you, I'm over it" song, so I wanted to just hammer power chords. It has a little more straightforward rock vibe to it. When I think of my favorite albums, the tracks all sound like part of a collection, but each song is instantly unique and recognizable. I hope to achieve that on every record I am a part of as well. There's a distinct retro and gritty vibe, especially to the guitar pieces, throughout the EP— what inspirations do you draw from? Ally: Mitch and I both grew up in the Warped Tour scene, and we enjoy that aggressive, emotional type of music. As we grew up, our interests in other types of music also sprouted, and we got into this indie-DIY, alt-rock sound. When we started this project, something important for me was trying to create music that, I guess, honored our roots AND the type of music we grew into. Combining those two elements of the very raw, very emotional lyrics with something that's grounded and really doing both of those worlds justice, or at least trying to, was something we really wanted to do. Right now, I feel inspired by bands and artists like Toledo, The 1975, Phoebe Bridgers, The Wombats, Oso Oso, Pinegrove, and The Front Bottoms. Which track are you each excited about being out there and why? Ally: Probably "The One Before." It's maybe my favorite on the EP. I love the way the music becomes disjointed at the end. I feel like that kinda instrumentally plays into the idea of two people not being on the same path anymore. Mitch: My favorite tune on the record is "Overwhelmed ." It's just so honest and in your face. I appreciate metaphors, but I love just knowing instantly what a singer is saying, especially when it's done with emotion. I think with our harmonies and instrumentals in the background, we gave the lyrics a pretty huge stage. It's the song I get chills on when we play live, so it's got a special spot in my heart. What was a highlight of the collaboration process/recording the EP together? Ally: I mean, honestly, the fact that we were even able to do this at all is the biggest highlight for me. I've been writing songs since I was a teenager, but I never thought I'd ever get to a place in my life where I'd be considered an artist or anything like that. It feels very surreal. Also, to share this journey and this project with people who are so talented and so passionate about the music we're creating is really the biggest joy as well. Mitch: For me, I love collaborating with good artists. I met two of the best writers and artists I know through Drive-In. I love creation. I love listening back to something that takes me somewhere and noticing that this piece of art didn't even exist a few weeks/months/years ago. Doing this with others is a heightened experience than doing it alone. With others, you make things you would maybe never have made by yourself. For me, it's all about the excitement of creation, and there was plenty of that on this record. What's next for 'Drive-In' following the EP? Ally: I have literally no idea lol. We wanna write and record more music, of course, but we're pretty open to any opportunity the universe sends our way! We also have a pretty big show at Arlene's Grocery on 11/8, supporting The Never Ending Fall, so we'd love to see people come out for that!
Keep up with Drive - In!
Listen to "This Is Not A Rom Com" here