Drugstore interview

After an absence of 7 years, those masters of the dreamy, incandescent pop song Drugstore are back.

With three dazzling albums released between 1995 and 2001, triumphant festival appearances at Phoenix, Reading and Glastonbury, and high-profile performances with the likes of Thom Yorke, who contributed vocals to the single 'El President', Drugstore bewitched us and won our hearts, before promptly disappearing without so much as a by-your-leave.

But now we can fall in love and prepare to have our hearts broken all over again, as Drugstore have announced what's set to be an emotional comeback show at Camden Dingwalls in September.

Between band rehearsals and working on brand new material, charismatic Brazilian-born singer-songwriter Isabel Monteiro was kind enough to take a break from her hectic schedule and talk to The Music Fix.

Isabel, it's great to have you back! Where have you been these last few years and what have you been up to?

After the release of Songs for the Jetset, we were all pretty desperate for a break. I remember receiving a fax from the record company with the interview schedules and just thinking "there's just no way I'm going to do that... 40 phone interviews to Germany? No thanks, mate, can't do this anymore".

So, basically, I walked out. I switched off and everybody else went off to do their own thing. Bands that spend as much time as we did on the road go a little crazy, you know? You start longing for some quietness.

So, Mike went back to America, and has been working on his music and also doing some pretty cool Lomo photography. Daron got married! And writes music for TV commercials! I guess somebody had to!

And so to the reunion... why now? How did it all fall into place?

About a year ago we met up at the Groucho Club. I think Mike was in town for my birthday or somebody else's (probably had a pretty good night out, given that I can't remember...) Daron was a little drunk and kept saying to me "You're great, you know? I mean you're really great, I mean, you're really, really great..." I kept telling him, "No, Daron, YOU guys are great, Drugstore are great!..." and so forth. We spent the whole evening drinking and telling each other how we're great! Pretty pathetic, really...

A few weeks later he sent me an email, suggesting the gig. But it took us a while to get things going, with Mike in America and Daron busy running his mini-empire, and me always caught up in some kind of trouble.

You've had a fantastic response from Drugstore fans online to the announcement of the Dingwall's show. Were you aware there was so much love still out there for you? You also seem to have embraced the whole spectrum of social networking. You're active on Facebook, Twitter and even have your own blog keeping us up-to-date with new demos that you've been working on. How are you enjoying such a close relationship with your fans?

I was amazed and moved by the response we've got. I didn't even know there was a Facebook page for Drugstore and that people out there gave a damn.

Drugstore's music has always been pretty close to the bone, so having a blog where I pour my heart out and the occasional mad rant at Twitter makes perfect sense to me.

The music is almost completely sealed-off from the rest of the world. I tend to see things better from a distance, but having that immediate connection from 'the cave' to the rest of the universe makes the whole process more engaging.

I hear you received a very special gift from one anonymous online fan?

One Drugstore fan was so taken, or probably fed-up, with me moaning about my dodgy guitar he sent me an email with a link to Chappells Music Store saying, just pick the guitar you want! Now that's the kind of action that makes you feel really good about the universe! He sent me the email on Sunday evening. By Tuesday morning the guitar was at 'the cave'. Can't begin to tell you how meaningful to me that was.

Can you tell us about the demos that you've been recording in your 'cave'?

I've written some 20/25 songs. Haven't had time to get all my ideas organised yet. But I've started demoing a few and decided to put them up on the blog straight away, even though there's a pretty good chance I'll get tired of them, move on to something else and they may never appear on any album. People have been able to follow the whole process, from me waking-up to no food in the cupboard, to struggling to tune an ol' beaten-up guitar.

Back to the Dingwalls show... any clues on what we can expect?

I'm super-excited about the Dingwalls show. Just thinking about it makes me weak at the knees. It's more than music, you know? It's pieces of our lives being put back together into a shape that makes perfect sense.

Now that you've had the chance to put a little space between you and Drugstore's past, what do you look back on as your favourite songs or highlights to date?

We've done so many cool and amazing things, there's just too many highlights. From singing with Jeff Buckley, to having a Mariachi band - in full regalia - at Glasto. It's a long list!

Is it too early to look beyond September and ask "what next"?

I've got nothing planned, but hoping that other cool things will come our way.

I'd like to think that there is a tiny, tiny spot in the universe that belongs to Drugstore - a little place where I can carry on doing my music till the day I die. I have a rough album idea in mind, but we'll have to wait and see what happens in the next chapter!

Drugstore play Camden Dingwalls on Monday 7th September.

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