An interview with Drones’ Lois McDougall


Since returning with ‘Josephine’ late last year, Drones fans across the world have been waiting with bated breath for the bands’ second album, Our Hell Is Right Here, to arrive. Now within touching distance, we have a candid conversation with vocalist Lois McDougall about vulnerability and the importance of self-care. We also chat about how the Ren Aldridge (Petrol Girls) collab came to be and more.

Words: Renette van der Merwe

Live photo: Bethan Miller


Our Hell Is Right Here is out this week, congratulations! Tim produced it right? What led to the decision of doing it ‘in-house’?

Thank you! Yeah, Tim (our guitarist) is a great producer and engineer in his own right, so it made sense for us to keep things in-house. It gives us that extra control of how we want the record to sound. It was actually a comfort to not have anyone else in the room when recording these deeply personal songs to be honest. It was definitely swings and roundabouts though as having full control meant that sometimes we would overthink things and Tim would spend hours tweaking the smallest things.

You talk about finding the value of self-care during the recording process. I think for so many people prioritising their feelings feels selfish. How important do you think it is normalising putting yourself first?

Absolutely. I felt a huge pressure when sharing the lyrics for these songs with the band because everything we’ve written previously has been more about world issues/politics. I felt a looming guilt that I should be using this musical platform to shout solely about those bigger issues, but when it came to it, I realised you have to look after yourself before you can help other people, and I was really not ok.


“I realised you have to look after yourself before you can help other people”

I want to talk about how cohesive this album feels, because you were scattered across the country whilst writing and recording this right? How do you think it turned out sounding like you were right there alongside each other?

Most of the record was written pre-COVID but there was a lot that had to be recorded and polished in the moments where we could during 2020, like harmonies and extra production. Although we’ve been physically apart for a lot of this process, the songs have definitely brought us together and made us stronger as a band and as friends. We’ve put everything we’ve got into this record. Even in things like the artwork… we’ve thought long and hard about it all to make it cohesive.

Ren Aldridge from Petrol Girls makes an appearance on the title track and it adds this really powerful contrast between the two of you. Why do you think Ren was perfect on this song and how did it come about?

We were so chuffed that Ren wanted to be involved on this song. When we wrote it I knew I wanted an edgier, powerful vocal on that part and Ren was the ideal person for it. We’ve played live shows with Petrol Girls before so were already friends and it all just clicked into place.

There’s plenty of vulnerability on this album. Were you ever in two minds about putting certain things out there for listeners to hear?

Once I was over the initial fear of crossing the boundary into writing more personal lyrics, there was no looking back and everything just came out. We wanted to make an honest album and issues that affect the individual like mental health definitely deserve discussing with as much vigour as wider issues. We’ve had nothing but good feedback from people wanting to open up conversations based on the singles so far, so we’re excited for everyone to hear the full album.

Lastly, how are you celebrating this album release? Zoom pizza party or what’s going down?

It seems that way! We were holding onto the idea of a live show by this point, but we’ll just have to have the biggest party possible when we can all see each other again. It’s going to be huge. Imagine the passionate energy that you’ll feel at your first show after all this. We’re buzzing for it.


Essential Albums

What’s the first album you owned?
I was 10 and it was Pink’s Missundaztood. I remember making my Dad play it in the car. Sorry Dad.

What’s the last album you purchased / streamed?
Last one I bought was Bob Vylan’s We Live Here on vinyl.

An album that reminds you of home?
An album that reminds me of my family home is Eva Cassidy’s Songbird. My mum was always playing it in the kitchen.

Something people wouldn’t expect you listening to?
I love 80’s pop like Cyndi Lauper, Bronski Beat, Pat Benatar, Go West, Tina Turner. So probably an 80’s hits album. Waah… I wish I was alive then.

If you had to cover an album, what would it be?
Probably Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World. That, or a combination of my favourite Britney Spears songs… yup.

Settle the argument

Vinyl or Spotify?

Nothing beats playing a vinyl record.

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