Metal for people who don’t even know they like metal
Back in 2014, Sump Pump Records put out “The Des Moines 4 Track Compilation Vol. 1,” an assortment of songs by Annalibera, The Seed of Something, Fetal Pig, Gloom Balloon and others. Among the tracks was “Spirit Compass” by Druids, which is the title track for the Des Moines metal band’s new EP. Druids plays a release show for “Spirit Compass” Dec. 1 at Vaudeville Mews.
“That song was meant to be recorded on a 4-track; we wrote it for a 4-track,” said Luke Rauch, singer/guitarist for Druids. “But we ended up liking it so much that we wanted to record it the way the rest of our songs were recorded.”
Druids took a different approach to recording “Spirit Compass” than their past EPs and albums. In the past, the trio would head into the studio with the songs fully worked out. For “Spirit Compass,” Druids wrote during recording, spending more time in the process.
“We were tweaking things as we went, which was a new experience for us,” drummer Keith Rich said. “Usually we show up, and the songs are what they are — no switching around. It’s a whole different beast, recording over a year. The songs evolved quite a bit. We were shaping them up to be the best they possibly can.”
Another change was working with producer Brandon Darner of The Envy Corps. Druids recorded the album in Darner’s home studio, with his The Envy Corps bandmate Micah Natera engineering. Druids is the first metal band Darner has worked with. He approached the band following its 2016 80/35 set.
Darner’s studio is state of the art, but because it’s in his home, Druids can still boast having only done home recordings in their almost decade as a band.
“Actual studios are overrated,” said bassist Drew Rauch, Luke’s brother.
Druids has had a busy fall, touring regularly around the Midwest. The band has also had a number of notable local shows, like playing a Pants Off Podcast showcase at the Maximum Ames Music Festival, paired with Traffic Death, Courtney Krause and The Fut. Half of those bands (take a guess which ones) are not metal bands, but that’s not unusual for a Druids show.
“You get exposed to an audience that normally wouldn’t go to your show,” Drew Rauch said. “People who go to see The Fut or Courtney Krause might not go see just us, but it goes over really well. We played a Tires CD release show earlier this year. It was awesome.”
“I think a lot of people don’t know they like metal, or heavier, aggressive music,” Luke Rauch added.
“I think there’s a stigma, but there’s such a wide range of metal,” Rich said. “You can get lost in it. If you don’t like this, you might like a different kind of metal. I just say we’re a heavy band.”
“I just say we sound like Slipknot,” Luke cut in, echoing everyone’s aunt everywhere.
Next year will mark 10 years since Druids got its start, though the band operated as more of a side project until about four years ago. The band has plans for its 10th year, though. They’re just not saying exactly what yet. Touring and… something.
“We have a plan started,” Drew Rauch said.
“What it will end up being is anyone’s guess at this point,” Rich said. “We’ve been a band for a long time, but not in the state we are now for anywhere close to 10 years. It feels like we’re just getting our feet wet.” ♦