Coronavirus update: View cancelled events here

Interview: Dry the River chat to Skiddle

We caught up with Dry the River guitarist Matthew Taylor to find out how they're dealing with their whirlwind success on both sides of The Atlantic.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 30th Apr 2012

Dry The River recently set about their biggest UK shows to date, fresh off a whistle- stop tour of the US.

Their blend of raw lyrics, tumbling harmonies and uproarious instrumentation has seen them garner an admirable fanbase both sides of the Atlantic, and all this with their debut record only having been on the shelves little over a month.

With festival slots dropping in left right and centre things don't look like calming down any time soon either; they're hot property.

We caught up with guitarist Matthew Taylor to find out just how much fun they've been having Stateside, and how they're dealing with the whirlwind...

Welcome back! You’ve been over in the US for a fair while, what was the one thing you were most looking forward to when you got home?

We didn't want to come home! That was the trip of our lives! It was so much fun… a real road trip. Having said that, the shows back here have been amazing so far. It's nice to play to people who have our album finally! We're on tour so much that we don't really have home comforts anymore, so would've been happy staying in our RV roadtrippin! Although the first thing I did when I got back was have a roast dinner.

Touring the US must be completely different to touring the UK, how did you find the whole experience? Were you surprised at the reaction you got?

It is very different. The drives are a lot longer! Cardiff to Scotland feels about ten minutes to us now. We were supporting Bowerbirds while we were there and were surprised at the response we received from the crowds… it was great. American crowds seem a lot more vocal than British audiences who are maybe a little muted in comparison. That was surprising, but it was welcome… I think having an English accent gets you a long way. They lap it up!

Did you get time to enjoy yourselves, party and do a bit of sight seeing?

Absolutely. We get on very well with Bowerbirds - they're very funny, lovely people. There were a fair few nights of drinking and dancing! And the sightseeing - we made sure we got to Niagara Falls, Yellowstone Park, The Redwood Forest… it was incredible. We all came back with about 1000 photos!

You also played SXSW. That’s notoriously crazy, how did you find it?

Yeah that was crazy. We were so, so busy, I think we played about 12 times. There's so much going on there that it's a bit of a whirlwind, but it's so much fun at the same time. We had some great shows - we played Stubbs BBQ with Girls and Red Eyed Fly with Willy Mason. They were big shows for us and went well… most of the audience is hammered drunk at SXSW so it can be kinda rowdy!

Presumably you haven’t had much time to get over the jetlag as you’re back out touring the UK with many of the dates sold out. That must be a great feeling, are you looking forward to headlining some bigger venues?

That's right, we landed on Saturday morning at 7am and played OneFest that day. So we were awake for two days. No recovery time! It feels great to be selling out these shows though… they're the biggest we've ever done and so far the audiences have been amazing - singing the songs back at us… it feels really rewarding having toured for the last two years without a record.

Shallow Bed your debut album was released back in March and got a great response and is due to be released in the US this week. For anyone who hasn’t heard it, how would you describe it? Are there any tracks that really stand out for you?

It's a collection of epic folk and rock-inspired songs basically. The instrumentation is pretty rich, there's a lot to get your teeth into with the record I think. Song-wise I really like 'Demons' and 'Shaker Hymns'. They are the two songs we tracked live playing together, and I think they sound the best. 'History Book' too sounds good to me - we had The National and Beirut's brass players play on the second half of the song and they took it up a level...

There’s been a tendency to pigeon hole you as ‘Folk’. But having seen you play live it’s quite obvious that’s not the case. That must be quite frustrating, or do you like the fact that people are often surprised by how you actually sound?

It can be frustrating in that we don't consider ourselves a folk band - and being labelled exclusively as folk can sometimes mean that people wont give us their time, when they might actually like what we're doing. We don't get too het up about what we're described as though… I think that's because we don't really know what we are!

Do you think the support slot on Bombay Bicycle Club’s tour last year helped propel you and introduced you to new audiences?

Yes, definitely. All of the tours we've done so far have been really valuable for us in getting our songs out to people who might not have heard them. Bowerbirds in America and The Antlers tour round Europe were both great tours for us and were a pleasure to be playing on. That said - we are loving playing this headline UK tour where we get to play for a bit longer!

2012 has been a great year for you so far, building on last year’s success. What would you say has been the highlight?

So far it's been our five weeks in America - not to bang on about it! But it was a great time. Being the only people walking around the Yellowstone super-volcano was a memorable day.

The rest of the year is looking pretty busy for you with further dates in Europe, the US and finishing with a date at Shepherds Bush. Will we be seeing you at any festivals this summer?

Certainly! They're all being booked right now but so far we've confirmed Isle Of Wight, Great Escape, Reading and Leeds, and 2000 Trees - which is an awesome festival in the Midlands with a killer line-up. We'll be at more but I can't say until they're confirmed!

And finally… with all this touring, do you get chance to keep an eye on what everyone else is doing? Whose albums/work are you enjoying right now?

Sort of. I'm not as clued up on modern music as I once was. I spend most of my time listening to Townes Van Zandt and Pink Floyd. I really like Alt-J , and our current tour-mates Tall Ships are releasing their album this year - that's brilliant. We all really like a band called Gallops too - their album is being made now, and our friends Arcane Roots have just signed a record deal and are great… I welcome any recommendations of things to listen to! Tweet at us! (@DryTheRiver)

Interview: Michelle Lloyd

Read more Dry The River news and see upcoming events

Read more artist interviews