Hardcore band Drain appeared on the Artist Friendly podcast this week, following the release of their sophomore album Living Proof. The trio, featuring vocalist Sammy Ciaramitaro, guitarist Cody Chavez, and drummer Tim Flegal, spoke to host Joel Madden about their early days, being a part of the hardcore scene today, their live show, and more. 

Before you listen to the episode, which is out now wherever you listen to podcasts, check out our round up below of the key takeaways from the conversation. 

Read more: How Drain are inviting people to join the pit with Living Proof

drain band joel madden

Hardcore wasn’t the first genre each member of Drain gravitated towards

Hardcore may be the focus of Drain’s music nowadays, but it wasn’t the sound each member of the trio was originally into. Sammy Ciaramitaro says, “I actually got into hardcore last.” He began as a punk and thrash-metal fan, but when he realized bands like Power Trip sounded a bit different, he discovered hardcore. Tim Flegal similarly was first a fan of punk and naturally gravitated towards hardcore from there. Cody Chavez, though, was originally into hip-hop. Later, he discovered trash and was curious about thrash-metal bands playing with groups like the Cro-Mags, and that’s what then led him on his hardcore journey. 

It wasn’t big aspirations that Drain set out to pursue — it was just a love for hardcore 

Drain may be having a breakout moment and be one of the most buzzed-about acts in hardcore today, but they share on the pod that they didn’t necessarily have big aspirations starting out. The band formed primarily because they were excited about playing in a band, touring, and their shared love of hardcore. “It was just something we had to do because that’s what brings us joy in this world,” Flegal says. “That’s what I feel would separate us from some other bands — we never set out with aspirations to get big or do big stuff. We just wanted to be in a band and play music, first and foremost.” 

Drain are inviting new fans to be a part of the hardcore community

Ever since its inception, hardcore has succumbed to gatekeeping, but Drain are adamant about breaking down those barriers. “There’s a negative connotation associated within hardcore where when there’s new kids that’s no one’s seen before, it’s [like], ‘Who the fuck is that?’ We’ve never been about that. If there’s new kids at the show and it’s their first hardcore show ever, that’s the coolest thing to us. If younger kids are listening to our music, that’s all I need,” Flegal says. And Chavez feels similarly. He says he’s “always looking for the guitar players and trying to bond with them.” He even fields DMs where he encourages younger players to “keep going.” Meanwhile, Sammy Ciaramitaro says he’s happy to provide the soundtrack for people’s first stage dive. “If you wanna be the singer of Drain, you’re the singer of Drain now. Jump on my back. You got the full green light — whatever you wanna do,” he says.

The band feels very much in lock step with each other when performing live 

Ciaramitaro notes that people often make comments to the band about how tight they play together live. He explains that he feels like it just comes from the band’s early days “finding [their] flow” while jamming and playing shows. He insists that even if there aren’t monitors or a PA and he struggles to hear himself, as long as he’s with his bandmates, it’s going to be a great live performance. He says, “We are so locked on the back of our hands with each other. For the most part, you can’t buy that, you can’t force that. That’s just hours and hours of getting locked in. We know each other’s patterns and communicate on that third eye.” 

Drummer Tim Flegal prefers the intimacy of shows 

Flegal admits that he prefers shows to festival appearances because it’s a more intimate setting, and he feels a much deeper connection with the crowd. “We make it pretty well known that there’s no distinction between the audience and the band, in my opinion. We’re not better than you because we’re in the band, and you’re not better than us because you’re in the crowd,” he explains. To Flegal, it’s all the same. “Get up here, take the mic, jump on the drums. That’s the way it should be. That’s why we do it,” he says with a smile.

Ciaramitaro has his own straight-edge philosophy 

While frontman Ciaramitaro has been straight edge for seven years, he admits that there isn’t a band of that nature that changed the game for him. “I don’t really have a favorite straight-edge band where I heard the lyrics one day and [they] were so moving to me,” he says. Rather, he decided to become straight edge so he could take making music more seriously. “Honestly, there’s just no way I could do alcohol and music. It’s one or the other,” Ciaramitaro says. In fact, the frontman used to be a bartender, so he’s a fan of people having a good time. “If you wanna jump onstage and shot-gun a beer, let’s do it. You’re not gonna bum me out,” he promises.