The story so far…
Drew’s songs are pretty much written in a haphazard way, the discipline of chaos. Like literary writers who utilize automatic writing. In his own words “The sculpting of words and melody is very instinctual, like a channeling from something beyond me. For me, a song is a landscape, in all its varying colors, the landscape of human pain but always an open sky, even if there is a wait for the clouds to part. People ask do the words come first or the melodies? I guess I can only answer this as an entwining of melody and lyrics with no particular linear processing. It’s like the song forms itself, and you the song-writer propagates the evolution.”
In contrast to Drew’s previous more experimental and left field albums, released on “Boy George’s” label “More Protein” and then on UK Indie label “Open Season”, Drew’s latest album CLOSER is definitely more focused, relying on the power of “The song” as opposed to a leaning upon production quirks and more avant-garde colouration. A certain humility resounds throughout the songs of CLOSER, it is apparent Drew serves the songs in construction. Classic, cinematic tracks both epic and beautifully fragile, an expose of a very troubled soul indeed. Portraying an emotional honesty that can only come from facing the self-conjured Demons, spawned from poor choices and the hedonistic “Rock Star” ego molded Fair Ground rides.
The albums first track CLOSER portrays an emotional honesty that expresses a vulnerability, yet juxtaposes against a Heartbreaking swell of Majesty with its rising string and horn arrangements. Drew’s voice is the “Defeated Knight” within this Kingdom of the broken, a surrender of sorts.
The second track “Darker Clouds”, one could only describe as “Rock n’ Soul”, an alt-rock “Ain’t no sunshine”, with the intimate, yet harrowing echoes of “Nina Simone”. In the words of Drew “When I create a song it has to be a landscape, a lonely desert with a panoramic view of the Stars and beyond, perhaps Tarantino and Ridley Scott should produce my next record….UFO’s, ET’s…yeah why would I not be fascinated by them….”.
On the subject of un-Earthly beings the song “My days with the Astronauts”, the third song on CLOSER, is one of a kind, an alt-rock, Country crossover. Twisting chord modulation with skyscraper dynamics, imagine “Muse” meets “Fleetwood Mac” with the fusion of “Jeff Buckley” and “Harry Nilsson” singing the lead vocal and harmony. Lyrically the song is a surreal tale of “Alien abduction”, the “Astronauts” take away the troubled human and purify that human pain and suffering in the way only “Alien Astronauts” could!. What’s very evident is not only is Drew mercurial in nature, his music is even more so.
Having grown up in a little Village in Sussex U.K, Drew (Real name Alex Dew, Drew is a nickname based upon people constantly misspelling Dew as Drew so it became his nickname and stuck.), decided upon music college in West London, at 18 he just wanted to Rock, for some years now he had already written and recorded many songs on his cassette 4 track recorder. He had also played in a few “School” bands. The West London College was pretty small and mainly run by failed Jazz musicians, who Drew found bitter and jaded, but he didn’t care he was out of his small Village in the “Big Smoke”. He set up a trio with a couple of guys on the course who liked to “Rock”, there wasn’t much choice most of the drummer’s goal was to play quieter!. A wild Greek lunatic drummer and a bass player who liked to jump around “You got the job”. They gigged in all the usual “Toilets” from Camden to Richmond. Drew began sending out demos to record companies with pretty much no interest, but then a review in an NME unsigned submission section was unbelievably favorable and grabbed the attention of the manager of “The Verve”, and Drew was taken on unofficially. Fast forward a few months Drew was playing in London venues under the name “Fake”, the shows were busy, comprising of press and A+R scouts, Drew was not even 19 yet and hindsight Drew considers it was “Too early, songwriting depth and meaning only comes with age, WTF does some 19-year-old idiot know”.
The “Verve’s” management team was stumped as to what to do with this eccentric act who couldn’t be pigeon holed, time passed. During this hiatus period, Drew garnered the attention of “Boy George”. George saw Drew perform at a packed out XFM Radio sponsored gig at “The Borderline” London, hung out with him backstage with his good friend “Amanda Ghost”, he was full of praise for Drew and that night phoned the manager of the label “More Protein” (Georges label) and stressed “We’d better sign him before someone else does, he’s got lips to curl up and die in, he reminds me of early Marc Bolan”.
Drew signed to “More Protein” and released three records with them, one of which was reviewed by “Moby” as a guest reviewer in the NME; who described the music as “Great”
The un-pluggable “John Peel” at “Radio One” picked it up and played it out on his show a few times, Drew was most honored being a massive fan. There was also excellent play listing on both Radio One and XFM, the future seemed bright, with promising distribution figures from both independent and major record shops. But as is often the story with new musical talent, the momentum of the act didn’t quite break through enough to progress into a career with steady growth. Drew describes that period of time as a “Blank space in time”, which leads us into the next phase, his second main band “Blankspace”.
Drew left “More Protein” and went through various managers as if he were “Speed dating”. And in Drew’s own words “Plenty of pointless time wasting meetings with wanker A+R’s..” Eventually, he landed a deal with UK Indie label “Open Season”. A couple of releases and to cut the story short pretty much the same as before, critic acclaim and many interested parties, “Stephen Dalton” writing for the UK’s NME, reviewed Drew’s act “Blankspace” at a packed out Camden, London show as ” Bigger than time….”, claiming Blankspace was the only current band who could cover “Neil Young’s” hit “Expecting to fly” and do it justice. Great press and Radio one airplay but again the act just didn’t break through. In Drew’s words “The dream was just crumbling away, revealing the bullshit aspects of the music business. It was hard to turn a blind eye to the wreckage that surrounds you, and not feel disappointment and disillusionment… I kind of just gave up..I did keep writing but the dream was fading fast.”
Over time crumbs of opportunity presented themselves, but once bitten, twice shy, so to speak. “So many managers full of shit and actually just a hindrance”.
Drew was running out of funds and became a pub covers singer, then this progressed into being a wedding singer, then the progression led to being the wedding singer drunker than the audience. In Drew’s words “Yep I was truly lost, I could entertain a crowd like making a cup of tea, but the enthusiasm faded pretty quickly, I didn’t pick up a guitar to play predictable mainstream songs over and over again to give a bunch of pissed strangers something to dance to, it’s like Tiger Woods making a living playing Crazy Golf tournaments..”
Fast forward a few years of Drew trawling around the UK playing weddings, Drew was spotted by a retired industry manager at a solo acoustic gig, in a tiny bar in West London. He was blown away by Drew’s voice, and contact details were exchanged. They met for coffee the very next day and Drew handed over his latest self-produced CD of 11 songs. The call came the next day “Drew, this album is unbelievable”, the Svengali, who shall remain nameless, proceeded to play it to lots of his old contacts and the resounding consensus was indeed a stunning album. From “Philip Tennant” the manager of “The Waterboys” to “Liam Teeling” at the time head of Sony ATV, who discovered the singer “Seal”, described Drew as “Thoroughbred”.
In a short space of time, Drew went from a washed up wedding singer to a very hot prospective Singer-Songwriter. Private showcases, with just Drew and guitar in studios in London, this led to funding to embark upon a US songwriting tour. Walking into music executive’s offices in LA, Nashville, NewYork… and blasting out his songs in the sterile bright lights of the corporate rooms. As well as writing sessions with established songwriters including “Eric Rosse”, producer of “Tori Amos” and “Pam Sheyne” co-writer of massive hit “Genie in a bottle”. This was to Drew a renaissance, an almighty second wind and it felt like “I’ll break on through to the other side this time”. But interested parties sat on fences, stalled and sat back, waiting for “Something to happen!”. History repeating this surge slowed to a grinding halt.
Drew was in a glittery bubble of hope, it felt so close to becoming living the dream he had always had, that bubble truly burst this time and he came crashing down to Earth. “That bubble was my protection from the chaos that was my life, destructive relationships, the wreckage of a failed marriage and the crushing realization that without this bubble of hope, I was just a washed up wedding singer”. Reflecting on this stage Drew darkly jokes “That’s when I started to drink properly”.
What followed was a period of self-destruction “Sculpting out some pretty frightening chaos fuelled with gallons of Devil Juice”.
After a time of the Rollercoaster ride of insanity and self-medication, Drew had two choices as he puts it “Man up or man down…I chose the latter, I simply abandoned that sinking ship, with all it’s drunken sailors still partying”. Drew moved back to to the Sussex countryside, bought some running shoes, joined a boxing gym and became a carpenters assistant. Initially, all I did was train like a Marine, coughing, and spluttering, “Man I’d piled on the pounds”, but fighting back and growing stronger every day. The mist of pain and fear began to lift and Drew started recording ideas, first on his cell phone app, then he started attending “Open Mics” to air the songs, patiently letting the songs evolve in their own time, this time no flakey manager to send them to in the hope some CEO arsehole will jump on them. “It was a re-birth, I was finding the reason as to why I created music again, after having lost it for quite some time”. And this is what you will hear in Drew’s latest album CLOSER, it’s the sound of facing that madness and chaos, and the beauty of release from surrender.
“CLOSER is my Phoenix, rising from the ashes, cell phone sketches to open mics, leading to fully formed production of the songs”.
What is a Rock Star really?. “It’s just a human being who feels like they can touch the stars and feel the euphoria and wonder of that moment, but then at some point they come crashing down to Earth, they are wounded, but a true Rock Star finds the strength to channel that experience into songs, so others can get to share in those moments of utopia, only with a humility forged in the Rock Stars heart is this possible”