Drought CultThe Drought Cult from left to right: Echo, Ford, Overn

Things start getting spooky the deeper you get into the North Bay Area. As you exit 101 and make your way into West Sonoma County, sprawling vineyards give away to dense forests of old growth redwoods, misty valleys, and gorging rivers. Needless to say this lush netherworld cultivates some sick music.

Hailing from this area is the Drought Cult , who have been repping the heavier, darker aspects of Wine Country since their inception almost four years ago. The trio — featuring guitarist/vocalist Francesco Echo, bassist Jef Overn and drummer Dan Ford — is debuting the video for their new single "No Beliefs" right here at The Bay Bridged. Filmed and edited by Anthony Jimenez, the video tracks two characters from opposite tiers of wealth with some iconic Bay Area settings as a backdrop. But we wanted to know more, so we met up with them to get the scoop. Check out the video below. 

The Bay Bridged: First of all, I'd like to comment on the crazy Bay Area imagery in this video.

Echo: We got a lot of good imagery around here! I definitely think it coincides with our sound. Well, maybe not what other people would think. Maybe someone stands out on the coast and hears a ukulele strumming.

TBB: Speaking of imagery, you guys are very much a visual band. How does your imagery tie into your sound and aesthetic?

Overn: When the Drought Cult started we had a lot of backing tracks, a lot of synths, a lot of different flavors. But at some point we just abandoned all that. So we tried a couple different things, added some distortion to the bass, [and] stripped it all down. After that we were like 'OK, I guess we're going to be a spooky, heavy band now.'

FE: I want to make a band with the perception of being spooky and a little bit obscure and harness those things into something that is a little bit more mainstream. I want to find a medium where aesthetically, it's really DIY, post-punk, post-rock. Bringing in 3 part harmonies next to fuzzed-out guitars. A bass sound exploding out of an amp next to a dream synth, ya know. I think the general idea of juxtaposition is becoming the theme of the Drought Cult.

TBB: Do you think you guys represent Sonoma County in that aspect?

FE: I think we try to represent a part of the North Bay that is, for the most part, unrepresented. It already exists on its own without us...but consciously trying to identify with that. Like making decisions about where we exhibit this project and how we present it. Being musicians that play in other bands around here we get painted into a corner anyways, so it's easy to see what is successful and what is given a platform and what is not. So I feel like we're trying to tread that middle ground. It's tough though.

TBB: When I think of other spooky North Bay Area bands that had a hard time getting pigeonholed, I just think of AFI.

FE: That's a good example, because that whole genre of music in this area has had a heavy history and now I feel like it's being steered towards the days of old. Folk and Americana are being pushed to the front. But there's this whole ocean of bands that we know from here that play here that don't get the same kind of exposure.

TBB: Do you think folk and Americana are given more of a platform around here because of how easy it is to market to the Wine Country scene?

FE: I do, but I think it has a lot to do with everything happening in San Francisco. I think it has a lot to do with people in money-making industries coming to a place like this that is so rich with culture and creativity. They want to exist in that world and want to connect to it and in some ways...use it to their advantage. It's easy for a tech company to hire a folk band at an event to make it look like their connected to this world. It's just so accessible. Because of that, a lot would say that folk and Americana is the sound of this area. I actually think we sound like Sonoma County, but I don't think that is what the outer majority of Bay Area people would say.

TBB: How does the Drought Cult sound like Sonoma County?

FE: Vast. Textural. Rugged. Ethereal. There's a lot of connection between imagery and sound in my mind. For us, dusk on the coast. A foggy morning on the cliffs on the coast. A rainy day in Armstrong Woods is really intense. Silt and quicksand and water. It's treacherous, it's cold, it's misty. But it's solid, piercing silence. It prompts inward reflection. Letting go of yourself....I'm getting way too heady with this right now (laughs).

TBB: No, this is good! Let's get heady. 

FE: Breaking free of conceptions of self and breaking free from what you think other people might perceiving and just being true. The Drought Cult could record a folk/country record tomorrow and get more radio play but —

Ford: It would still sound like gothic country (laughs). We can't get away from that.

TBB: Back to the video. What's going here? You got Dan and Jef playing the main two characters?

FE: Yeah. The main idea of the video is outlining a major juxtaposition we see a lot in our region — Sonoma County and San Francisco. A lot of wealth and greed sitting next to art and poverty. Not even just poverty, but people who are living sub-income and artistic as a choice and a lifestyle versus people who get into tech. That's the more literal interpretation of that concept.

TBB: So you're showcasing a disparity between these two worlds that overlap in the Bay Area. Where do you think the Drought Cult operates within that disparity?

FE: I believe we operate right in the middle of that and I believe we are very lucky to be able to do that. I feel like so many people are so immersed into whatever their day-to-day is, whether it be their professional life or just finding something to eat, not a lot of people can move in between those realms.

DF: I do think we also realize that at any given point, we are just a couple steps away from being completely destitute and homeless. I've been there a few times in my life and I definitely feel lucky to be able to be in the middle now.

TBB: The epilogue to the video kind of puts you in that headspace that life is bigger than our day-to-day. 

FE: Yeah, the intro to the video is the more impressionist representation of that idea. It's a series of shots with stars and nature. As time progresses in the video, you're going from outer space into nature, into the cityscape...and it's kind of just a reminder that we're so honed in to the complexities of our everyday lives, we forget to feel humbled by how insignificant we are. Realizing that we are tiny organisms on one planet, in the midst of this vastness that we're not even built to comprehend. It's wondering what or why it is, but wondering how you fit into it. It's just some heady shit man (laughs).


The Drought Cult, Manzanita Falls, Green Light Silhouette
Hopmonk Tavern, Sebastopol
March 22, 2019
8pm, $10 (21+)

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