Drug Apts. are too punk for TV
How a bunch of co-workers formed one of Sacramento’s most elusive, haunting rock bands.
Whittney Kebschull lamented that life in Drug Apts. would make a great, cheesy ’90s television series.
Jokingly, of course, but it’s possible. Girl trades the icy tundra of Minneapolis for sunnier Sacramento, gets a job at a restaurant and joins a rock band. The drummer, Michael Thiemann, doubles as her boss, something of a celebrity chef who also played drums in a notorious punk troupe 20 years ago. His best friend also plays in Drug Apts. and jammed in that troupe, the Yah Mos, though he declined to be named for good (read: mysterious) reasons.
Then there’s Matthew Maxwell (guitar) and Dylan Craver (bass), two inseparable guys who worship Nirvana’s Bleach and bro out on a regular basis. Maxwell once took great joy in feeding an internet troll unflattering band photos. Craver just wants to “drink brews and play tunes” with his buds. Kebschull witnesses their antics at work every day, and then at practice.
“I’m in a fucking band with my co-workers,” Kebschull, who sings in Drug Apts., laughs.
But as bandmates, the five deliver something that’s hardly scripted or television-ready. The music is unapologetic, and the performances, like pagan rituals held in basements and old warehouses, feel spiritually dark and daringly impulsive.
“It feels like it could fall apart at any second,” Maxwell said. “We’re getting a chance to release.”
The intro to “Dig,” a track off the upcoming self-titled EP, demonstrates their love for primal, unfettered sounds: a cymbal that rides rapid, mimicking a rattlesnake; creaking scrapes along steel strings; feedback that emulates a flatline—all to a haunting guitar hook that wails like a wounded ghost.
Then there’s the chorus, with Kebschull’s rabid cries bleeding over a rambunctious punk riff. All the while underneath, Thiemann, like a mad butcher, commits murder over his snare and toms.
The sound is easy enough to characterize. Violent. Vulnerable. Disorderly. But it also feels too liberated to tether to a single genre.
“It definitely has the essence of punk rock to it,” Craver said. “But, I wouldn’t say that it has the sound of a stereotypical punk rock band. We definitely engage in those DIY ideals. I think that meant something to a lot of us when we were young, so that sticks around.”
The debut EP releases digitally Friday, November 4, with a vinyl due soon after. It was produced by Zach Hill and Andy Morin of Sacramento noise rap group Death Grips, and it’s being distributed by Berlin-based label Interference Pattern Records, run by Tyler Pope, the bassist for LCD Soundsystem.
If those names beg the suspicion of a grand marketing strategy surrounding Drug Apts., there isn’t one. Hill is an old music buddy of the band, and Pope played bass in the Yah Mos.
“It’s just a bunch of friends helping each other out,” Thiemann said.
Drug Apts. will celebrate its EP release at the Red Museum on Thursday, November 10. The members are writing new tunes, but the rest is unplanned, and it’s their preferred way of operating. Though life can seem strangely congruent like made-for-TV scripts, it’s always been about progressing organically as a band.
“I feel like we all have this raw part of us in not trying to be anything or anyone,” Kebschull said. “A lot of music and entertainment is all surface and glitz and all that shit, and I don’t want that. I want it to be as real as possible.”