by Paul Gargano
April 1999

Drown on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 1999

Drown on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 1999

Say what you will about America as it races towards the millennium, but the country is soft. Where else in the world does Matchbox 20 sell 10 million records? Where else have politically correctness and money-hungry lawyers made it hazardous to speak your mind? And politics being what they are, where else can a mockery of a sex scandal not cause a country to reassess their moral and ethical standards? Yes, America in the 20th century can’t boast the hardest of inhabitants. In fact, with hundreds of television stations, the Internet offering the world at our fingertips, and Domino’s promising a piping-hot pizza in “30-minutes-or-less,” we’ve got little reason to leave the house. In a world ruled by survival of the fittest, we could be doomed, but don’t tell that to Drown.

In a music industry seldom recognized for rational thinking, Drown—frontman Lauren, guitarist Patrick Sprawl, bassist Sean Demott and drummer Marco Forcone—have survived more adversity than any one band should have to face. They’ve proved they’re amongst the fittest, and Product of a Two Faced World is their double-fisted heart punch to an industry that’s stabbed them in the back a few too many times. With debut Hold on to the Hollow unveiled in 1994 by Elektra Records, and the following three years bogged down by bureaucracy, last year’s Product of a Two Faced World, the band’s sophomore release and first for Slipdisc/Mercury, provided vindication. “No more days putting faith where it doesn’t belong, I’ve been held down here for too goddamn long. Seen you all come and go and I’ve been led on. But I am still alive and I proved you wrong,” charges frontman Lauren in “1605 (for my suffering),” a crushing condemnation from a band that refuses to go away, let alone quietly. First single “Kerosene” is an addictive rush of power and rage, swelling within a steady instrumental hook that could rival any of today’s heaviest players. Minutes later, you’re screaming “I’m tired of living like this!” right along with Lauren, whose art is reflective of his iron will and practical approach to the chaos of music world run by suits. “Once you get dropped by a major label, regardless if it is was political or musical, that’s it. It’s like a curse to your band,” says the frontman, referring to the band’s tumultuous runs on Elektra and Geffen in the mid-‘90s (major structural changes and priority shifts away from heavy music ended their tenure with both labels, the latter before even releasing an album). “At that point, everyone that was really into you and really thought you were just the freshest thing on the block, instantly is like, ‘Oh, I heard those guys just got dropped.’ Well, I always felt, fuck that, because if the music had validity at one point, and you were into it at one point, why does that change because some stupid record company can’t figure out what it is?”

If someone has a right to be charged about the said topic, it’s Lauren, who was doing with Drown what bands like Korn and the Deftones have found tremendous success with in recent years. While there are no hard feelings on his part, and he’s prepared to combat the nay-sayers who call Drown wagon-jumpers, even his assertions otherwise can’t soften the blow he must feel every time he hears a “new band” with a similar feel. “It’s just like any other trend—When something happens, everyone tries to jump on it. Fortunately for us, we never gave a fuck about the trends,” he states. “I’m not influenced by an album that came out yesterday, I want to be influenced by records that really meant something and really have roots to them.”

What does Lauren have to say about the recent influx of aggro-metal wanna-bes? “Where’s the soul? Where’d you come from? If you listen to Korn, or whatever, you should go back and look at what they were into and check that out. Then find those bands and check what they were into and learn where the music comes from. Don’t just hear a record and go, ‘I want to sound like that. If I tune my guitar this way, I can be cool.’ That’s just stupid… If someone hears our record, and it’s got big, heavy guitars and emotional lyrics and real performances from the souls of real musicians, and they want to refer that in their brain to a band like Korn—who also make real music—well, you’re not going to offend me because I know the roots.”

You also won’t insult Lauren because he’s honest, and at the end of the day, it’s the honesty and integrity of the music, coupled with the passion and power of their live performance that keep Drown’s collective head above water. “I refuse to be one of those bands where people say, ‘Whatever happened to those guys?’ Fuck that, I’m here for a purpose. I come out of a scene of very creative people, and I represent that underground that I’m a part of,” the frontman concludes. “I’m going to stay committed and do what I do. Everyone has got their own flavor, and now that the politics are out of the way, it’s time for the world to understand what I was talking about four years ago. In the end, we gain more respect for being committed to it. We’re going to go down as the Rocky of rock, constantly fighting for everything we’ve got.”

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