Revolver has teamed with Drug Church for an exclusive "blood red with black splatter" colored vinyl variant of their new album, Hygiene, limited to 300 copies worldwide. Order yours while they last!
"Even at my most didactic, I do not give a shit if someone gets the message or not."
Drug Church leader Patrick Kindlon is getting real with Revolver. But, if we're honest, at first blush his statement is a little hard to believe considering the sheer volume and scope of his creative output. There's a lot of Kindlon content to consume if one is so inclined. Between two weekly podcasts, multiple ongoing comics including Image's Frontiersman, a dedicated comics newsletter, periodic poetry releases and his musical work in both Drug Church and Self Defense Family — it's difficult to imagine that Kindlon is truly disinterested in having his message land.
But as our conversation deepens, so does his conviction. Kindlon is resolute: It's on you, the audience, to decide what to do with the art he's presenting. Take it or leave it. His charisma and brashness are undeniable — and it's easy to understand how he's attracted a passionate following (as well as some outspoken critics).
Kindlon is fluent across multiple mediums, but the occasion for his talk with Revolver is to discuss his impressive musical output — including Hygiene, the new and stunning fourth full-length from his post-hardcore outfit Drug Church.
At this point in his career, Kindlon has honed his skills as a frontman for over two decades. He cut his teeth with punk band Self Defense Family (whose original incarnation was the Revolution Summer–inspired End of a Year), and later, with Drug Church, expanded his repertoire from droney post-punk to infectious rock. Drug Church's comparative accessibility and chameleon-like ability to hit different musical niches has made them the perfect match to play with everybody from Turnstile and One Step Closer to Citizen and the Story So Far.
Thanks to his many years in the game, Hygiene ends up being ridiculously fun and Kindlon's most to-the-point album to date. Much of Drug Church's past work has found the singer channeling his thoughts into different characters: whether real-life acquaintances or fictionalized takes inspired by actual people (2013's Paul Walker LP featured a tracklist based on what the late actor might do in a day). This time, however, he's not playing sly or filtering his message. Throughout Hygiene, Kindlon takes aim at issues that affect him personally, be it friends ready to betray one another for clout ("Premium Offer") or the constant, suffocating news cycle ("Million Miles of Fun").
Musically, Hygiene — which also features performances by guitarists Nick Cogan and Cory Galusha, drummer Chris Villeneuve and bassist Patrick Wynne — serves up a distinctly fresh, heavy-yet-sweet take on post-hardcore and punk. "Tiresome" opens with a wavy, distorted riff and eventually builds to some pummeling chugs. Kindlon's voice is super gruff (in fact, it's ready-made for a traditional hardcore act) — and it's exactly the dichotomy between the hooky sounds and hardcore vocals that makes Drug Church exciting to hear.
Hygiene culminates with "Athlete on Bench," an introspective track on which Kindlon turns his gaze inward. He confronts some core existential issues about being a working (and often broke) musician ("I'm living between shrinking margins," he sings), before arriving at a place of acceptance: sometimes playing in a band can feel like an utterly insignificant act. But in Kindlon's hands this realization doesn't feel cynical, instead it becomes an unexpectedly poignant and empowering moment: nothing matters, especially what others think or want from you. The artist's job is simply to create — to hell with whether someone gets the message or not.
THE LAST TIME WE SPOKE, WE ENDED ON THE CONCEPT OF SUCCESS. SINCE THEN IT SEEMS LIKE DRUG CHURCH SORT OF BLEW UP: ON THE OUTSIDE YOU'RE DOING BIGGER THINGS THAN EVER. WHAT HAVE THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS BEEN LIKE FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?
It's funny you should ask that question. I was on my walk today; I was thinking about how cross-collateralized my life is and how kind of stupid that is. It's cross-collateralized in the respect that if I say something on the podcast, it costs me money in three other places. It doesn't cost me money on the podcast. It costs me money in music, it costs me money in comic books. And in this respect, my life is cross-collateralized, but I don't cross-promote. So really there's no benefit at all to my lifestyle. [Laughs] Which is really stupid.
I'm not big on promotion and I'm certainly not big on cross-promotion. I like different aspects of my life being isolated or compartmentalized from each other. And it's unfortunate to me that I didn't take on pen names and stage names. It was really stupid for me to use my real name if I'm not gonna cross-promote, it's just idiotic. I mean, the last year and three quarters have been, for most musicians, probably not good. [Laughs] For me it was awesome. Because I just made a lot of money. I just sort of started a new career because I knew I had nothing but time and it … it moved faster than I thought.
So now I have a proper adult income while also having the ability to make music. So, for me, it was very fun. Aside from being separated from my [Australian] girlfriend [because of] international borders … it was very productive creatively. It was still pretty productive for Drug Church because we did a lot of recording over the pandemic. The thing that I lost was two years of my time on earth that I could have been playing shows, and that's pretty serious because I'm not 22, you know? I'm gonna look pretty bad onstage in about five years. It would've been nice to have two years of prime time for performance.
BEFORE THE PANDEMIC I NOTICED DRUG CHURCH WERE PLAYING SHOWS WHERE THE AUDIENCES WERE SKEWING YOUNGER. DOES PLAYING TO A DIFFERENT KIND OF KID INFLUENCE THE WAY YOU PERFORM?
I won't say it's hard get on a stage and do a thing that you enjoy doing, but it can be less relatable. The sweet spot for me is people 25 to 35. And that's a big sweet spot, obviously, that's a lot of human beings. But that's just because I don't know how much of what I'm writing would be relatable to somebody younger than that. It doesn't mean that it's not right. I enjoy plenty of artists who are a great deal older than me. So, if a 19-year-old really likes what we do, that's awesome. But for me, I just always wonder, Oh, does this make sense, to somebody who's younger? I don't know. I always want us to go out with Clutch. That's my dream. [Laughs] I like a slightly rough-around-the-edges crowd that is there to have a good time. It doesn't matter if they're young or old, because it's going to be a lot of liquored up electricians.
A LOT OF DUDES WITH JUVENILE RECORDS.
A Clutch crowd. I'd be willing to bet that half of them are contractors. I think that's a fun crowd. Like when we play Punk Rock Bowling, it's a great time because it's not me. I don't look in the crowd and see myself. But I see people who are there to have a good time. They're wearing work shirts and talk to me about their union gigs and they just wanna get hammered and stage dive in boots. Yo, how can I be mad at that? [Laughs]
WE SPOKE BEFORE ABOUT HOW SOMETIMES THE BAND WILL WRITE SOMETHING THAT'S A LITTLE TOO POPPY AND YOU'RE NOT INTO IT. DOES IT EVER GO THE OTHER WAY, WHERE SOMETHING YOU WRITE IS TOO EDGY FOR THEM?
No, but there have been lyrics that they think are stupid. And they'll ask, "Oh, can we get rid of that stupid lyric?" But they're tasteless, so who gives a shit. I don't think the lyrics are all that edgy, honestly. It's not like I'm like calling for the destruction of Israel or something. It's like, you know, it's largely personal stuff. It's projecting characters and whatever, but I wouldn't call it all that edgy. I don't think they're very bothered by anything like that …
Look — there's always compromises, because my bandmates would like for the band to be a band that people like — and I'm a little less invested in that idea. They're not corny, they're not willing to do all the dumb shit other bands do and I respect them for that. But they would like people to like us. And it's not like I want people to hate us, but I am a little bit more fatalistic about this sort of stuff where I just think it is what it is. People like what they like, or they don't like what they don't like. And it's like, there's little I can do about that …
WHAT MADE YOU STEP AWAY FROM BEING ACTIVE ON TWITTER?
You know, when a space is too nasty for me, that means that it's pretty nasty. All I saw was really profoundly, profoundly unhappy people. [Laughs] I don't get off on that. I used to think it was funny and interesting when people would telegraph their misery. I guess, why are we giving away so much of ourselves for free? Not to make this like a business class, but Twitter's this bizarre place where you give content to the world for no tangible return. And there are people who think that it's promotion, but it's not. If you talk to anybody who's worked in marketing in the last 10 years they can tell you that those very important metrics for five years are now seen as a scam. You can't convert somebody's likes or followers on Twitter to any amount of money. I got a friend who runs a record label who signs a bunch of old, legacy acts. And he loves legacy acts because he can do the math. He can say, "Okay, based on the lowest sales of your career, I can make you an offer. And I know I will make money back."
Those are hard numbers. Social media numbers mean nothing. Twitter is this bizarre place where there is an infinite downside and very little upside. So, like just being a practical person that has other things going on in his life, I couldn't really devote much time to it because it's not getting me anything. … I've seen so many weirdos on it try to hurt each other. If it was still fun, maybe I'd be on there bullshiting with people. I mean, moving forward, the thing I'm gonna just say to people is, "Hey, text me if I win something or get canceled."
HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU THINK PEOPLE HAVE TRIED TO CANCEL YOU?
Oh, I think four is the count right now. [Laughs] The thing is, if I was really a bad dude, I would kind of get it. But if I'm your boogie man, your life is like the most privileged in the world. [Laughs] I'm just a dude that occasionally says something rude or doesn't use the right word or whatever. I never mistreated anybody, never robbed anybody. So what you're mad about is the way that I present to the world. It's just weird.
But it's frustrating because even by doing this interview and talking about it, I invite that energy into my life. Because it's a whole thing where people see it as a challenge. The more I put myself out to the world, the more the 1 percent of people will think, Yeah, I don't like that. This dude is confident. I don't like that. This dude doesn't hate himself. I'm gonna try to harm him.
[Laughs] I mean, look, I don't know if this is the right venue to have this conversation, but musicians, public figures, et cetera, are more damaged than anybody understands because the last five years or so people wake up in a cold sweat.
They don't feel good about the way that other people are planning on 'em and plotting on 'em all the time. And like, you know, [some people] have the mindset that, Oh, well, you wouldn't have those thoughts unless you were a bad dude with something to fear. So there's gonna be no convincing …
There's plenty of people who've done nothing wrong in their entire life who just have dealt with some really sick stalkers, like really unwell people that are trying to hurt them. And once you see that up close, once you see behind the curtain … you're like, Oh, there's like a lot of crazy people out here. And you never look at it the same again. …
But … there are plenty of bad dudes, I'm sure. But the reality is that not every musician is some Klan member rapist. And if you think that they are, then that's like a personal problem …
That's why I'm just out of the game. People can think what they want about me. I'm the boardwalk T-shirt that says, "If you heard something bad about me, just believe it and keep moving."
A METAPHOR I'VE HEARD YOU USE A LOT IS LIKENING A MUSICIAN TO SOMEONE MAKING A HOUSE. ONCE THE HOUSE IS BUILT, IT'S UP TO THE PERSON LIVING IN IT TO MAKE THOSE MEMORIES. AND IF THE PERSON WHO MAKES THE HOUSE IS BAD IT DOESN'T INVALIDATE THOSE MEMORIES. THE METAPHOR APPEARS IN "DETECTIVE LIEUTENANT." WHY IS THAT AN IMAGE YOU RETURN TO?
Being around musicians for the last however many years … they are shitheads. There's nothing else to it. They're not deep. They're not profound. They're just people who like to express themselves in a specific way, the same way that somebody else might express themselves over a nice dinner with their girlfriend or whatever. Musicians just express themselves in music and that's it. There's nothing more special to it than that. They're not magicians. They can't give you any insight into your life. You synthesize that insight with what you bring to their raw materials. You formulate the thought around the raw materials that this person put out into the world.
It's a beautiful thing. It's great. But [musicians] are not worthy of praise. They are not geniuses. They are not special. Once you know that, they don't hit the same way. You don't expect anything from them. … And that's how we treat every other craftsperson in our lives — every single one of them. We don't expect the world of electricians. … Musicians are not heroes or villains. They're just people ... But we put these silly requirements on them.