Work Drugs:
The TVD Interview

The release of a brand new 10 song album shows that there is no slowing down for Philadelphia’s hardest working independent band.

After releasing their “Amore” EP on Valentine’s Day, Work Drugs, Philadelphia’s self-described “premiere Bat Mitzvah and Quinceanera party band,” are back with a collection of songs that continues to show growth and maturity from a young band with an already impressive catalog of songs. Mavericks is officially Work Drug’s third full-length released this week and is self-produced and self-released. Work Drugs is made up of primarily two members, Tom Crystal and Benjamin Louisiana, and live, the band expands to a five piece. 

To celebrate the release of Mavericks, Work Drugs are playing a free concert on July 10th along the banks of the Delaware River in Philadelphia at Morgan’s Pier. It’s just one of a handful of upcoming shows scheduled. The others include a trip down to Baltimore on July 13 and a pair of shows in southern California on August 30 and 31.

Work Drugs recently ventured out to Stockholm Sweden to take part in the Hultsfred Festival, and prior to their trip I was able to catch up with one half of the band, Tom Crystal, to discuss the new album and its influences, their DIY spirit, and the road ahead.

What can we expect from the new album Mavericks?

Definitely some yacht rock tendencies—especially with the title track, as well as some straight ahead uptempo dance cuts like “Young Lungs” and “West Coast Slide.” It’s a line we always seem to straddle.

Who have you guys been working with on the album?

This album sees some of our live lineup start to stretch their legs a bit, between various sax parts by Maxfield Gast, Mr. KC holding down the groove, and Jonas O putting down the beat. I think this record helps to better display the energy we put into our live set.

For being such a young band, the amount of work you guys have released so far is incredible. How do you guys stay creative?

Songwriting is something we really enjoy, and very early on we decided that we would have more longevity as a band if we focus more energies on songwriting and recording versus playing a lot of shows. Now, that’s not to say we don’t enjoy playing live, but by being selective in the shows we take on, it makes it more enjoyable for us by ultimately keeping things more fresh.

What is the typical songwriting process for a Work Drugs song like?

Typically, but not always, someone starts to riff or a groove, and then usually Ben will reign that into some sort of arrangement. Then verses usually present themselves based on the mood the music usually creates.

Who/what are your influences on Maverick or in general?

Recently we’ve been influenced by some of the earlier Sade records, The Style Council, and George Duke. In terms of the imagery, the songs were mostly written during a couple of excursions in California last year, so a lot of themes and lyrics about what we experienced are reflected in the songs.

How has the Philadelphia music scene shaped you guys as a band?

Philly is a great place to base a band, lots of opportunities to play, and with a lighting rod like WXPN in the city, there are always opportunities to be heard. There are lots of great bands always coming up in Philly, and I think we appreciate that vibe of creativity that permeates the scene.

It’s amazing the following you guys have created without a label or management. How do you guys manage to juggle everything?

It’s certainly not easy, but if you really love what you do, it’s never tedious. We understand how difficult it is to be heard, and ultimately have someone appreciate your music, so when people reach out with requests, questions, love notes, etc… we try to respond to everyone. If someone felt compelled to reach out, we think its important to respect that.

Back in March you guys mentioned turning down a deal with a major label. Would you guys ever consider signing with one? What would it take?

We are not swearing off the majors by any stretch, but I have just heard so many horror stories with labels shifting hands, A&R people getting fired, and labels changing directions that end up stranding artists or forcing them into multi-year limbo while the label figures out a way to best monetize that artist.

I can emphatically say that any deal that we got involved with would have to have “outs” for us to get out of the relationship if people don’t do what they say they will do.

Which bands/artists are you guys listening to?

Currently Junip, Rhye, Kings of Convenience, and Jesse Ware but usually it falls back on tried and true classic stuff like The Doobie Brothers, Kool and the Gang, Brothers Johnson, Narada Michael Walden, etc.

What has been your best moment as a band so far?

Playing our first sold out show in Philly earlier this year was pretty special, and I guess playing the Fillmore in San Francisco with TDCC (Two Door Cinema Club) was pretty cool.

After the album comes out in June, what can we expect next from Work Drugs?

Who knows? More songs most likely and playing select shows.

Where do you see yourselves and Work Drugs in a year from now?

Hard to say, but we are really attracted to the unknown. Hopefully everyone is still happy about the project and eager to be creative and continue working.

Work Drugs’ Mavericks is in stores now. Dates and venues for upcoming shows, as well as past shows, can be found here.

Work Drugs Official | Facebook | Twitter

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