Chatting all things gear with the Melbourne post-hardcore heavyweights.
Combining lethal down-tuned riffs and obliterating breakdowns with lyrical themes that coast around topics of trauma, rejection and depression, Drown This City are without a doubt one of Australia’s most jarring post-hardcore acts today.
While the band’s professional trajectory has encountered some incredibly high points over the past few years, Drown This City’s success has also come at a cost for members involved in the group, with lead vocalist Alex Reade explicitly detailing her battles with inner demons across the upcoming EP Colours We Won’t Know.
After experiencing a bout of mental trauma in the wake of Melbourne’s draining COVID-19 lockdown, Reade channeled her energy into writing new material with the band alongside guitarist Josh Renjen and newly appointed bassist and co-writer Toby Thomas, with the ensuing songs ranking among some of the best ever penned by the band.
New single ‘Borderline Existence’ ebbs and flows between brutal verses and soaring choruses courtesy of Reade’s astounding vocal acrobatics, while ‘New Burn Order’ sees Thomas and Renjen’s instrumental sensibilities collide for an insanely heavy, emotionally cathartic cut that promises to be an EP highlight.
In the lead-up to the new EP, we caught up with Toby Thomas and Josh Renjen to take a peek at the gear that the band used across the record for a sneaky insight into the creation of Colours We Won’t Know.
Axe Fx-II Mk2 – Josh
I’ve been using the Axe Fx-II since about 2014, for both guitar and bass over the years. It’s probably showing its age a bit now, but it has been great to dial in tones and effects on this preamp/effects processor.
My particular model was originally owned by Northlane’s Josh Smith, though unfortunately didn’t feature any NL patches when I got my hands on it as I had picked it off a third party. The depth of customisation with these units is pretty incredible, though you do need to spend some time with it to refine what you’re after.
I’m currently waiting on a shipment of the Neural DSP Quad Cortex, so once I’ve dialled in some tones and had a play with it, I hope to replace the Axe Fx-II with QC in my future live rig.
Ibanez RGD7UC – Josh
This has been my go-to 7-string for the last number of years now. I originally purchased it from an online seller in 2016 for a very reasonable price, and it’s been part of my live rig since.
It’s stock loaded with a pair of BKP Aftermaths to give it an aggressive and punchy tone, the Tight End Bridge is comfortable and holds the string tension reliably as well. The body itself is beautifully cut with a beveled edge and the neck is quick across its 26.5” scale. It’s got all the little features like locking tuners and such that you’d expect, and it’s been a really solid component of my rig over the years.
Majority of the guitar writing for Colours We Won’t Know was completed on the RGD, and followed by tracking with the 070.
Aristides 070 – Josh
This guitar is an absolute beast. Aristides instruments are produced out of a factory in the Netherlands, where they use a material called “Arium” to cast the guitar in a mold.
Despite not being made of wood, the tones produced can be pretty incredible and the build quality is usually pretty decent. I was lucky enough to have a friend lend me this 070 to record CWWK, he’s had them loaded with a pair of Fishman Fluence Modern’s and a couple of other features as well.
I’d love to have one of these in my own personal collection however already have a couple of guitars on order already, so it may be a little while before I get my hands on one of my own.
Empress Compressor – Toby
I’ve been rolling with this Empress Compressor for years now. Playing a variety of bass techniques, a compressor is a vital part of my board.
I’ve used a lot of compressors over the years and this thing just fits all my needs, it’s transparent but adds a unique crunch to the tone. A friend of mine graciously sold this to me a few years back for a very reasonable price and I haven’t looked back.
Darkglass Microtubes X7 – Toby
For distortion I’ve found the X7 works best while playing in such a low tuning. I can essentially approach shaping my tone how you would in a studio setting, keeping a big clean low end and distorting your preferred level of high end.
This is a really clever bit of gear, which really helps the bass cut through a mix, even if you’re playing in F.
Two Notes Le Bass – Toby
I’ve used this preamp for years, playing shows and in the studio. Playing Drown we don’t use physical amplifiers and I’ve always liked the convenience of a rig in a bag.
This bad boy fives me two pre amp channels that I can run in parallel or series as well as its own tube that you don’t get with a lot of pedal pre amps. Two Notes stuff is amazing and really complements the passive bass I’m using at the moment, it keeps things thick but gives me that nice clank you want out of any modern metal bass tone.
I could go on about this spaceship-looking pedal and everything it features, but it would take way too long.
DSM Noisemaker OmniCabSim Deluxe – Toby
Finally in my signal chain and what I use as my DI is my OmniCabSim. I call it my 8×80 in a box because that’s essentially what it does. It’s a fully analogue cabinet simulator, which makes slight adjustments on the fly to match the room really easy.
It’s made by this rad guy in Chile who’s making really amazing bass and guitar pedals, I have a few more of his pedal that I’ve incorporated into different pedal boards over the years and they never disappoint. I believe this model may be discontinued so I’m stoked to have been lucky enough to snatch one up.
Dingwall D-Roc Standard – Toby
Alright, the work horse. Before joining Drown, I never would have dreamed of tuning to F but it gave me an excuse to pick one of these up. The multiscale gives the low string a 36.25” scale length which is vital for tuning a bass this low.
The body of this is similar to mahogany, which keeps the tone really rich to compliment the extended range. And, well, look at it. It’s stunning, yet obnoxious and it does everything I need it to do, what’s not to love.
Drown This City’s new EP Colours We Won’t Know arrives via UNFD on Friday May 28.