The Draft

The Draft

Reinvention can be a bitch. But for the men behind The Draft ? three-fourths of whom recently crawled from the wreckage of the now-defunct, 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, recruited a new guitarist in longtime associate Todd Rockhill and 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.

?I think we all knew there was no way that we wouldn?t just completely start over as a new band,? Black explains. ?We always said that the minute one of us walked away from Hot Water, then that was it. But it was totally scary. At the same time, I don?t think we had the desire to keep pushing it as Hot Water Music. We?d done a lot.?

With a new moniker derived from old school military connotations in place, the band soldiered forth, driving up to the new Baltimore facility of longtime HWM producer Brian McTernan to cut demos in the Spring of 2005. While iconic punk guitarist Brian Baker (of Bad Religion, Dag Nasty and Minor Threat fame) was in tow for those early sessions and toyed with the thought of joining The Draft, it wasn?t until the addition of Rockhill ? a man with one of the coolest genuine surnames in music ? that the lineup cemented and In A Million Pieces was perfected.

?Initially we wanted to just be a three-piece but after writing for a while we knew that ? by the time we got out of the studio ? we wouldn?t be able to pull it off live,? Black explains. ?We?ve known Todd for almost ten years,? ?He played in a band called Discount that Hot Water went to Europe with in ?99 and we knew he was a super good guitar player. Bringing Todd into the band was just one of those things that we knew would work.?

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 any more,? Black says of the rejuvenated foursome. ?We?re a whole new 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.?

And if Wollard ? despite dalliances with the microphone here and there during HWM?s decade long existence ? had any trepidations about moving out in front of the band full time, The Draft?s positively received live shows last summer coupled with his bandmates? enthusiasm for In A Million Pieces helped put them to rest. ?I think Chris was born to do it,? Black says. ?I?m glad that whatever we had to go through on this record, the end result is that this record is great. This is the best stuff Chris has ever written.?

From the edgy, hook-laden ?Bordering? catches Wollard?s and Rockhill?s respective 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.

Hi, we're Cheap Girls. We're a rock band from Lansing, Michigan.

Our first record, "Find Me A Drink Home," was released April 22nd on the CD (Bermuda Mohawk) and Vinyl (Los Diaper) formats and was released digitally (Quote Unquote Records) for free, with optional donation, on Friday, July 11th, 2008. Our split 7" with Buffalo, New York's Failures' Union came out to coincide with our March, 2009 tour. Around the same time, we did a 7" for Art of the Underground's Singles Series.

In May, 2009, our first LP, "Find Me A Drink Home," was remastered and rereleased by Paper + Plastick Records and is available now.

Our new record MY ROARING 20s was released in early October, 2009 on Paper + Plastick.

Luther formed in Philadelphia during the summer of 2010. They love PBR, Four Loko, Wawa and the 90s. FFO: Texas Is The Reason, Hot Water Music, Band Of Horses and Jimmy Eat World.

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The Draft with Cheap Girls, Luther

Wednesday, July 24 · Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM at Smiling Moose - Upstairs