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D.R.U.G.S.: Flying High

“I’m excited. It’s been an amazing time so far. It’s kind of our second US tour in our minds and, you know, we did three in total, but the first one kind of doesn’t count because we’d released one song and had not really come into our own yet,” says Owens, who doesn’t cease using the word “amazing” or sounding like today is the best day of his life throughout our conversation.

D.R.U.G.S., Owens’ current main gig and something of a supergroup. Boasting members from bands such as From First To Last, Story Of The Year and Matchbook Romance, the band only released their debut album this year.

“I’d parted ways with my previous band [Chiodos], I decided that I wanted to do things the right way this time around,” says Owens, who then went through his Rolodex (which would contain names that’d no doubt make you puke with envy) to assemble the right cast. “So I wanted to do something similar [to Chiodos] but I wanted to make it reach out to more people. I didn’t want it to be so heavy, but I wanted it to be heavy.”

What Owens put together and named D.R.U.G.S. (an acronym for Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows) are on their third US haul and are in the middle of wowing Warped audiences with their super-polished post-hardcore, blending elements of metalcore riffage with pop hooks and shiny programming. Does the vocalist consider the terms “supergroup” or “side project” accurate? Yes and no.

“The word ‘supergroup’ should be in play, because we are a supergroup,” asserts Owens. “And we’re a supergroup that’s taking it to the next level, and I hope the people think of it as a supergroup in terms of everyone is talented enough to play [well].” As far as being a side-project – a label that some people have used due to Owens’s impressive output with other acts and D.R.U.G.S. members having pasts in other bands – this is not a term that Owens considers fair.

“I think that the majority gets it, I think that everyone pretty much knows this is my band, this is what I do and I’m not doing anything else,” he says. “We’re not going to dissipate in a year and go off and spread our talents thin.” One of the admirable things about the outfit’s self-titled debut is the song “Laminated ET Animal” (one of two tracks with palindromic titles, incidentally), in which Owens, a bipolar sufferer who attempted suicide after being fired from Chiodos, shares his experiences with his illness. It is understandably a song close to his heart, and disorders of the mind are something he believes should be discussed.

The Congregation of Atreyu

“I had one of my best friends the other day try to take their life, and I spent time at the hospital with them. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I dedicated a song to them a couple of days ago because of the meaning behind it,” says the singer. “And you know that [the song] has a lot to do with mental health issues and the fact that I’m still here despite how crazy I am.”

Drugs Cover

Has he had many fans come forward, say “right on” and thank him for discussing what many people live through?
“It’s kind of crazy, because it’s not as many as I’d like,” he says. “I haven’t had as many people come up to me as I’d like. I think that this kind of thing is new.” He believes that the band’s newness has something to do with the lack of focus on the subject, and once people have had a chance to absorb the album, then more attention will be paid to the lyrics. “I think these people understand that I feel like every fan that I have stuck with me, the ones that truly understood stuck with me and I feel like we’ve been on a journey together, and I think that once the shine of this band wears off they’ll really start paying attention to what it is I was saying. And I think it’ll come.”

But for now, D.R.U.G.S are busy winning over festival-goers with their music. They are scheduled to play the rest of the current Warped Tour. There were a few days off in July, though, while Owens was fulfilling a lifelong dream and starring in a movie, directed by Jules Mann-Stewart and titled K-11. IMDB suggests the film will be released next year. “Basically what I did was I flew out to LA, then I did this amazing, amazing project that I was really excited about,” enthuses Owens. “It has Goran Visnjic from ER and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It has Portia Doubleday from Youth In Revolt, Jason Mewes from Clerks.”

D.R.U.G.S’s frontman has long – since way before he wrote his first song at 15 – wanted to act.

“I took dance classes, I did everything, and I acted a tonne. I did musical after musical after musical, and it wasn’t until after an older friend showed me this entire world of punk and hardcore and all of that that I decided to write my own music.

“So when this opportunity came I knew that it was something I was destined to do and it was something that I’d be really good at. And I’m really excited, I think a lot of people are going to be impressed and I can’t wait for them to see what I can do on the silver screen.”

The Congregation of Atreyu

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