The Draft (Reunion!)
Reinvention can be a bitch. But for the men behind The Draft - three-fourths of legendary post-punk outfit Hot Water Music - taking a powder was never, ever an option. Instead, frontman/guitarist Chris Wollard, bassist/spokesman Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo - the nucleus of what became this new band - stared down their collective doubts and insecurities, flipped off their detractors, took the next evolutionary step.
Although their captivating, incendiary debut offering is called In A Million Pieces, it's by no means a reflection of The Draft. Arguably as cohesive an album, if not more so, than anything HWM ever laid down in its decade-plus of existence, the disc is downright daring in certain respects. And with that notion, Black's enthusiasm comes as little surprise. "There's nothing on this one that I want to bury," he says proudly. "I love all twelve songs."
The cathartic but melodic "Alive Or Dead" - from which the disc draws its title - is as much of a vibrant, memorable anthem as it is a testimonial to the difficulties ushered in by unexpected change. Not to be outdone, the simply awesome "All We Can Count On" - with its irresistible, chant-along refrain and xylophone touches - is just another in a number of vigorous swings on an album conceived and realized with the shackles off.
And one needs to look no further than the scorching, ska-inspired thump of "Let It Go" or the blissful, bombastic rock & roll opus "Wired" to hear how In A Million Pieces not only thrives on equal parts effort and innovation. "There were definitely some confines in Hot Water Music that don't exist within The Draft," Black says. "We're a different band. And even if our fans aren't looking at it that way, we are - especially from the writing standpoint. So for us, it's nice to say, "Shit. I don't care if we would never do something like this before. On some level, I'm sure it was purposeful for us to do some stuff that's different as a way to get our own identity going."
From the edgy, hook-laden "Bordering" catches Wollard's guitars ringing atop Black's rumbling bass and Rebelo's furious drumming, it's just one example of how The Draft have lined their debut disc with sonic gold. Be it the urgent charge of "Longshot", the memorable punk rocker "Not What I Want To Do" or the scorching, gang-chorused "Lo Zee Rose", the band has cut a new melodic path.
For Black, the kick of trying something new far outweighs the risk of mixed public opinion. "We kind of feel like, if you don't want to put yourselves out there for public scrutiny, then don't play shows and don?t play records," he says.
"I figure there will be three types of people that hear the record," the outspoken bassist continues. "One - people that never heard Hot Water Music and can listen completely without bias. Two - people that purchased it because they were supportive of Hot Water and are into it; and Three - people that hear it and were into Hot Water and want to hate it. So I'm just ready for all three and we expect that there's going to be detractors no matter what."
Backbiters be damned. The Draft are alive with zeal and optimism as captured to perfection on the explosive, victorious "New Eyes Open." With it, Wollard captures what it means to not only stare down adversity, but kick it in the pants. Or as Black sums up confidently, "It's kind of nice because even though we're using most of the same people, it's like having a whole new set of tools."
New eyes open, indeed