Christofer Drew is covered in tattoos. But that's just the most visible way the freshly minted 21-year-old expresses himself. Since quitting high school to pursue Never Shout Never (due tonight at the Bluebird Theater), the intimate singer has kept personal life as open as his skin, changing his influences and his punk-friendly folk overtones as often as the telling, transparent lyrics that funnel them. His five-year-old Joplin, Missouri, rock band began as his stage name, blew up on MySpace and earned a staunchly loyal following.
There's a reason Drew's fans are legion (and they are -- just Google the man and prepare for awe): In the space of three studio albums, with another on the way, Drew tackles love (he feels this often), religion (his family's), drugs (he's slowing down) and politics (he can vote in 2012) across scores of clean, lean melodies filled with earnest, youth-spawned emotion.
Before Never Shout Never hits the Bluebird tonight, we caught up with the young pop think tank (in addition to running his own record label, Drew maintains three other bands to occupy his time) and talked about his audience (they live through him, he contends); his marijuana proclivities (he's well-versed in his indicas and sativas); and the strange reality of being perceived as a role model (Hint: He's not too worried about it). Oh, and throwing his own raves.
Westword: You're working on a new album right now: What stage is the band at?
Christofer Drew: Right now, we're at the stage of everything. I'm serious. Every song literally has a different style, with some country stuff, rock stuff, straight rock and roll, grunge, all of these genres thrown into it. We have a song for every sound that we like. Right now we're calling it Indigo. I like everything, and we didn't want to cut anything out. It's going to be eclectic, with twelve to fifteen songs.
I really like the song "Good Times," and "Old Timer," that's really good, too. We're recording all summer and looking for a release date in the fall. We're trying to build off the high of doing sold-out shows all the time, and when we finish the album, we'll have an even bigger tour, our biggest one to date, next summer. That's the plan.
The original plan was to follow up your last album and record it in your home studio. Is that still the case?
No, we decided to mix it up. We decided we want to work with a bunch of different producers, and we'll be working with some in California and doing some old-school work in the Joplin area and then some in New York City. We're trying to get West Coast, middle and East Coast to combine a little bit of everything and put all these sounds together.
What has the crowd reaction to your new material been like?
Some of them had heard a lot of demos and acoustic stuff, and they know most of it already, which is crazy. We're playing the redos live right now, taking songs apart and reworking them for the final album, and every night they change a little. I put in a new bridge to "Trouble," for example. The new version of "Trouble" is really, really fun, and all the kids know that. It's super upbeat and groovy and Elvis-y and has this upbeat feeling, and it's just so heavy.
What did you learn from recording Time Travel as a full band that you plan to carry over to Indigo?
Keep it simple. On the last record, we tried to make it as complex as possible, and I learned that I wanted everything as simple as it can be. We've got a lot going on this time with all the genres, but the songs will be fresh and new instead of repeating the same song over and over. There hasn't been anything tough about it. It gets easier every day, and we have all these other ideas for the future. We're combining our minds, and we all know each other and communicate so well that it's pretty magical.
As far as your fan base goes, are they following along with the transition back to upbeat lyrics?
Whenever I'm happy, they're happy. Whenever I'm sad, they're sad. They focus their energy on what I'm doing, and they live through me.
What made the difference for you? What made you happier?
I think it's understanding what's good for me. Even my diet has changed. I've become a completely raw-food vegan. I want to feel good, and that's what does the trick. It's better than any drug I've ever taken. Yesterday we went to this vegetarian spot that was super low-key. San Francisco was amazing for raw vegan food. Any body fat that I did have has dissolved naturally, and I eat a lot more than I did before. My thoughts are more pure and efficient. I've been on it for about a month and a half now, and I feel totally changed. I used to have skin problems, and even those have cleared up. I feel super-human.
I don't want to be controlled by the government. Everyone who is eating food from these corporations is falling into a trap, and the corporations are poisoning their minds and making them stupider every day. I want to be smarter every day, not dumber.
You turned 21 recently, which legalizes some of your free time. What was that party like?
It makes going out a lot easier. Before it was always like, "Can they get me in? I don't know." I throw raves back home, and around my birthday, we threw one of our biggest ones. It was awesome, and we had like 400 people out. We had a full PA system and lasers everywhere.
How do we get on the guest list for one of these raves?
It's open to the public, so come on down. We announce it through Facebook. There's a presale for $5, and at the door it's $10. The fans come, too, sometimes. Some people have flown out, and some have driven, but it's eighteen and up, so it's limited as far as who can get in. We've thrown three big ones and a lot of house parties. They go from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. I really liked St. Patrick's Day because I got almost naked onstage. We had fire dancers onstage, and I was jumping off the amps and going crazy everywhere, and it was fucking badass.
Your audience is so much younger than you. To what extent does this knowledge figure into your creative process?
A little bit. I try to make songs that are relatable for the parents and for the kids. I used to not really like it very much, but now I love it. They're my younger brothers and sisters. I try to be a good example, and onstage I have kind of a potty mouth, so if I see a young kid, I have to be more careful. It's kind of crazy -- I've met five and six-year-old kids on tour at my shows.
Are you worried about being a role model?
I play my role, and if you want to model yourself after me, that's up to you.
Last question: You're an established pot smoker. Will you be indulging in Denver?
I actually have a couple of connections there, and I plan on smoking a little, definitely. [My favorite strain] is from California; it's called green crack, and it's this very sativa strain that makes you upbeat, not groggy like most indicas. For indicas, I like anything purple. We got that green crack recently, and a lot of fans who are sixteen, seventeen, eighteen will come out. We have been smoking out everybody and rolling a lot of joints after shows.
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