Drug Church frontman Patrick Kindlon talks a lot. The unflinching honesty he exudes throughout his many bands, his multiple podcasts and his prolific comic career allow his audiences to decide pretty immediately whether they want to get on the ride or hop off. But whether anyone's paying attention doesn't matter much to Kindlon one way or the other — he's always been speaking his mind on record, from the DIY days of End of a Year (now Self Defense Family) to Drug Church's current stature as a headlining post-hardcore act.
Their spectacular fourth album, Hygiene (out March 11th via Pure Noise Records), is chock full of Kindlonisms — from choruses about wanting to dig your eyeballs out due to the relentless news cycle, to why he won't toss away his favorite songs when the people who wrote them commit a moral wrongdoing. His lyrics are sharp, unapologetic and most of all really fucking singable, so we wanted to talk to him about the five musical figures who most inspire his singular writing approach.
"The through line with these guys that we're gonna be talking about [is that] we're not talking about geniuses," Kindlon tells Revolver. "We're talking about men who express themselves perfectly and quickly. That's what they do. They're not great musicians, they're not geniuses. There is something to each one of them that they express themselves in a way no one else can."
I don't think he wrote any of the lyrics during his time with Dag Nasty, but he's just great. I'm fascinated by guys who aren't interested in being the smartest dude in the room. They're not trying to show up and talk, I've only seen Shawn talk a couple times. I don't know him as a man, but it doesn't seem like he's trying to flex. It doesn't seem like he needs to be the center of attention. And then when he puts his pen to paper, what he comes up with is genuinely insightful, emotionally intelligent lyrics about topics that you don't always hear about.
And, he's also done that with Jesus Eater and Red Hare. I'm just impressed with him. Because, look at me, when I'm in interviews I'm talking a lot. I'm trying to hold court and get people's interest and attention. He doesn't seem like that at all. He seems like a guy that's about going to work when he's got his pencil out. I think that he really gets the job done, I think he's one of the all-time underrated hardcore lyricists.
So, Rob Miller, sometimes known as The Baron from Amebix and later Tau Cross. I hate when people have to give their little caveats and bullshit like this, but Rob Miller got himself in trouble. He's persona non grata, but I'm not judging the man, I'm judging his work. His flair for the dramatic is unparalleled. He is fearless in how it's not cinematic. It's the opposite. It's like oral tradition, somebody trying to weave you into a story, like a bard's tale style.
That's probably like he's into making swords and shit. He's about that medieval flair, and to bring that to at the time, contemporary topics like ballistic missiles. To bring that notion of a storyteller and talking about dropping nukes, this is a mind working outside of time. He has the best voice of all time in aggressive music. And then when you pair it with these lyrics that are evocative, very visual, I think he's just a genius.
What makes All Else Failed and Luke specifically such a marvel to me — and probably also why they are a cult band and not a very big band, despite being better than their more famous contemporaries — is everything is idiosyncratic. Everything is unique to them, including the lyrical perspectives. The perspectives are not ones that you hear in aggressive music ever. A consistent theme in their music is the idea of being a burden in romantic relationships and friendships. That's a thing that many people connect with, right? They say the tipping point for suicidal ideation is typically feelings of being a burden o your loved one. [Luke] delivers that in this way where it's honest about the fact "I'm bad for you, and I've got nothing else, so I'm not letting go."
I've given them their credit on this one a hundred times, but they have a song that better encapsulates the experience of performing for other human beings than any I've ever heard. It makes [Bog Seger's] "Turn the Page" look like the fucking Crayola version of an idea. That song is about this idea that you can't ever really connect with what I'm doing, because what I'm doing is a performance based on a feeling that I had when I wrote these lyrics. And even if 10 hours passes, I'm in a different space. And if you are in the space that I am in, when I wrote those lyrics, you are not doing as well as I am right now. [Laughs] There a divide between the two of us that has to be recognized, because if you walk into this thinking that it's a one to one that you and I have an in-the-moment experience, you will be disappointed.
A discography as big as Killing Joke's means you've explored all the topics that you want to explore. Coleman has a consistent, apocalyptic sort of throughline to his lyrics that make them bigger than they should be, makes them more esoteric than they would be otherwise. Because hanging in the corner of the theme is this idea that something that you don't have control over is about to happen. The way that he manages that within songs is fantastic.
If I had to get deep on it, it's that the will of the individual is primary, but also likely to be crushed by outside forces. Think about how good you have to be at what you do to make somebody walk away from many songs with that same notion. That's a career right there. You know what I mean? I think if I was like a hack music critic, I would say there's something ominous. There's something foreboding to what he does. There is a malevolence to his work. That's not first-person, he's not the malevolent one. There is something malevolent lingering. Perhaps the world is malevolent. Perhaps the mob is malevolent, but it's just the shadow hanging over all of this.
So a lot of people low-rate Karl because his lyrics read like a pamphlet. But the proof is in the pudding. Twenty years later I remember the lyrics, "Reject the anthropocentric falsehood that maintains the oppressive hierarchy of mankind over the animals." That's literally a pamphlet, it's a slogan that I remember 20 years later that has the words "anthropocentric, falsehood." [Laughs] You know what I mean? I can barely say "anthropocentric." He's not everybody's cup of tea, that's clear, but he is exceptional at what he does.
He also has a flair for the dramatic. The song "Wrath of Sand," which is about assassinating vivisectors. It's a very visceral track about the release that someone might feel doing a very violent act for a good thing for a good purpose. Now, for many listeners, even if they're vegan, if they're very extreme on that fringe of that belief, then the idea of shooting somebody in the head is rather extreme. But in the same way that people at a certain time had a hard time with Eminem's lyrics because they felt like, "why is he talking about killing his mother?" Look, if he wanted to kill his mother, he would've choked her to death in that goddamn trailer.
That's not what it is. The way that normal people manifest their anger is [through] thoughts of killing. That's normal, no matter what we think. Killing is not normal, thinking about killing is very normal. The song "The Order," that song is actually quite creepy if you listen to it. It's deranged, but, when you really do care about a thing and the movement forward is in inches and you don't ever think that you're gonna arrive at a just world in your life, these things are resonant. These extreme views, talking about killing people, it's resonant.