Expensive Life Lessons ft. Drew McCarty

Drew McCarty is the first musician I have interviewed for a piece of writing, and to be completely honest, I was terrified of how it was going to go. I attempted to ask my first question as casually as possible, “So when did you start playing music?”. It was then, that Drew went on a forty minute tangent that I can only describe as his musical life story. Between the bands he has played in, his personal ventures, and an overseas performance gone wrong, I was left in awe of the person that I previously knew so little about.

Starting out as a guitarist, he joined his first band in his final year of school in Ballarat. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Drew said as he described the “hardcore punk band” that ignited his love of performing, despite being a self proclaimed nervous wreck at the time. From this he went on to form his next band when he was 20, Like Royalty. It’s at this point in the timeline where he launched into a story that completely juxtaposed his calm and reserved nature that I was familiar with.

After releasing their first two singles and gathering a positive reception, they were approached by a man that wanted to manage the band. He claimed to have secured them a spot playing with Parkway Drive in the Phillipines, and had the band convinced that this was their big break. After purchasing their own plane tickets, they showed up in Manilla with a very different scenario on their hands. “He promised we would be put up in a five-star hotel, but he took us to an empty apartment instead. There wasn’t even furniture, just blow-up mattresses. Then he disappeared and returned that night completely high” he recalls. They ended up sourcing a few shows of their own, realising they might not get what they came for. But after a small show in a bar, their drummer, Sam, drank some of the tap water and fell incredibly sick. “He couldn’t move for days. We were coming up to the big show with Parkway Drive which was apparently still happening, and he put on a brave face for the performance,” Drew said. He told me that Sam never missed a beat, and played the show with as much energy as he ever had. “But after the show we couldn’t find him anywhere. Eventually we found him curled up in a corner, and he was so sick, he was taken straight to hospital. But our manager still wanted to celebrate,” Drew laughs. Sam recovered quickly after that, and they all returned home only getting back half of the money they were promised. Drew likes to call it an “expensive life lesson.”

Back in Australia they recorded an EP together, but soon after Sam moved to America which spelt the end for Like Royalty. Fast forward a couple of years and Drew was starting up his own band, Kuchi Kopi, where he was shying away from punk and writing all his own songs. It was music that would create energetic live performances with its summery/indie vibe. He was writing the music, playing lead guitar and taking care of the vocals, beginning to focus more on his own producing and song writing. They released two singles that received great feedback (notably Moon Head), but eventually it was hard keeping the band on track with members heading in different directions.

After the band parted ways earlier this year, Drew moved to Melbourne and found himself truly concentrating on his vision for his music. “I am solidifying myself as the most antisocial musician ever,” he laughs. Writing all of his own songs, he is attempting to find a way to perform a one man show that still gives a full band sound and gets people dancing. “The next step is hopefully getting a single recorded and working out how I’m going to perform it all live. Now that it’s all on my own terms I hope to be playing lots of shows,” he says. But he credits his current Music Industry course at RMIT University for teaching him more about his approach to releasing music and collaboration. He explains, “There would be hype around my music, and it would die down before I released the song because some element would take too long to finish, another expensive life lesson. I came into this course to get more industry knowledge, it has pushed me to realise I need to be very present.”

Drew’s passion for creating is evident, and his music has an infectious energy. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I have a feeling he will be one to watch.

To get a taste of his music, Kuchi Kopi’s single releases can be found at https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/kuchi-kopi
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