Angst, Dancey Indie Rock, and a Good Cry: Catching Up With LA Artist-to-Watch The Drives

The Drives © Ellyn Jameson
The Drives © Ellyn Jameson
Andrew Levin of LA indie rock band The Drives catches up with Atwood Magazine to discuss new songs “Life Coach” and “Maybe I’m a Masochist,” major influences like The Killers and The Strokes, and the importance of a good cry.
Stream: “Maybe I’m a Masochist” – The Drives

The Drives’ Andrew Levin has plenty to feel angsty about these days: People on- and offline keep telling him how to live his life… his last relationship fell apart, somewhat by surprise… and his band hasn’t released a new EP in two and a half years.

Okay, that last one might not be a source of angst for him, but it certainly is one for me!

This Might Take a While - The Drives © Abigail Hedine
The Drives’ debut EP ‘This Might Take a While,’ released in 2021 (artwork © Abigail Hedine)

Comprised of singer/guitarist Andrew Levin, producer/songwriter Casey Chen, and drummer Geo Botelho, The Drives are one of Highland Park’s most promising indie rock up-and-comers – a beacon of radiant melodies and raw sonics, whose impassioned songs have energized and enthralled listeners for the past seven years. Atwood Magazine praised their highly-anticipated debut EP This Might Take a While, released in fall 2021, as an “unabating, unapologetic 22-minute upheaval that proves to be as warm as it is dramatic.” To date, that record has garnered over 1.3 million streams on Spotify alone.

The band’s cinematic and spirited 2022 single “Not That Bad” was further featured as one Atwood Magazine’s Editor’s Picks: “The heat of the California sun seems to shine… with charming guitar licks and a dynamic, unrelenting drum groove despite a rather poignant set of lyrics… Even when they’re down in the dumps, The Drives give us the fuel we need to persevere.”

Life Coach - The Drives
Life Coach – The Drives

After a year-long drought, The Drives returned at the tail-end of 2023 to reveal what fans hope will prove to be the start of their sophomore extended play. “Life Coach” (November 2023) and “Maybe I’m a Masochist” (February 2024) are, on the surface, two very different songs – one born out of anger, the other of a bruised heart – yet both succeed at doing what The Drives have long done best: Enchanting our ears while lighting a fire in our souls.

2024 heralds the dawn of a new era for The Drives as they plan to release some of their most raw, unfiltered, and impassioned music to date. The coming months promise to bring more music and more live shows, says Andrew Levin, who recently sat down with Atwood Magazine for a quick catchup about the band, their plans, and their two rip-roaring songs.

“We’ve just been writing and producing a ton over the last year while dealing with various life complications and industry stuff,” he says, “but we’re really hoping to release more music this year. I went through another breakup, so I have a ton of new songs, and we just want to get it all out.”

Get into gear with The Drives in our interview below, where Levin takes us through “Life Coach” and “Maybe I’m a Masochist,” we discuss the band’s influences and inspirations, and more!

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:: stream/purchase Maybe I’m a Masochist here ::
:: connect with The Drives here ::
The Drives © Ellyn Jameson
The Drives © Ellyn Jameson


Maybe I'm a Masochist - The Drives

Atwood Magazine: Welcome back, guys ! It’s been a minute since we last heard from The Drives. What have you been up to?

Andrew Levin: Honestly we’ve just been writing and producing a ton over the last year while dealing with various life complications and industry stuff, but we’re really hoping to release more music this year. I went through another breakup, so I have a ton of new songs and we just want to get it all out.

I love the raw energy of “Life Coach.” What drove you to “return” with this song last year? What excites you most about it?

Andrew Levin: “Life Coach” is a bit different than what we usually make, but we love the aggressive and angsty energy so much. We wanted to come out with that song first because the band did have an angsty year overall.

The CEO of my first job out of college was actually a life coach, and he tried to get all of us to sign up for his classes - in addition to working for him. What inspired the subject matter of this song?

Andrew Levin: That’s so funny. That’s the exact type of person I wrote about. I kept seeing all over social media these life coaches telling people how to live their life and how “everything you’re doing is wrong.” I was basically just annoyed and mad every time I saw those videos and wanted to write a song about that.

Everybody wants to tell me what they think of me,” you sing in the chorus. “And I would rather be dead than let that shit in my head.” I’d love to talk about the message of the here - you’ve got such an unapologetic attitude! What inspired these lines?

Andrew Levin: I think I have that problem where when someone tells me what to do or how to do something, I immediately don’t want to do it, or I want to do the opposite. The song started off being about social media life coaches and influencers but that chorus is really about people in my life telling me what to do in general.

I LOVE the dancey, Hot Fuss-era Killersy / Two Door Cinema Club vibe of the chorus. This feels like a first for The Drives, and a slight departure from your previous indie rock sound. Can you talk about this new direction a bit? What was your vision as you went about bringing this song to life?

Andrew Levin: That’s such a compliment because that’s exactly what we were going for, so thank you! I’m obsessed with that era of indie rock, so having that vibe show up in our songs was going to happen eventually. We are definitely exploring that direction more with our new music so we’re going to have more songs with that vibe down the line.

Who are some of your favorite bands, and have any of them been a kind of North Star or source of inspiration for you over these past few years as you carved out a space for yourselves?

Andrew Levin: I always reference The Killers, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, and Kings of Leon as main influences on me as a songwriter and on all of us as a band. Those were the bands that made me want to start a band in the first place. Obviously there’s so many more, but that 2000s era of indie has so many bands that I look back at it and think, “Oh that’s exactly what this song sounds like.” Phoenix, TDCC, Bloc Party, and MGMT would be the next four most influential as well.

You’ve now started this year off strong with “Maybe I’m a Masochist.” What’s the story behind this song?

Andrew Levin: This song was written about a breakup I went through a while ago now. It’s basically about me waking up one day and realizing the relationship I was in was dying. I think I tend to stay too long in failing relationships so this song is all about that.

You said we were drowning, I thought we had it made,” you sing in the chorus… oof. Reminds me of so many early relationships, and all of the associated miscommunications. Is this inspired from real life experience?

Andrew Levin: 100%. My ex told me she wasn’t happy and at the moment I was so confused because I thought I was, and I thought we were. As soon as I took some time and zoomed out on our relationship, I realized it wasn’t good. I couldn’t understand how I didn’t realize it sooner.

What do you hope listeners take away from “Life Coach” and “Maybe I’m a Masochist,” and what have you taken away from making them and now putting them out?

Andrew Levin: These two are very different songs thematically, but overall I hope “Life Coach” can be the outlet for aggression and angst while “Masochist” is that song you can cry to while going through a breakup. Maybe you listen to “Masochist” first and cry, and then scream to “Life Coach” after.

The Drives © Ellyn Jameson
The Drives © Ellyn Jameson

What’s on the horizon for The Drives? What are you most excited about in 2024?

Andrew Levin: Well, we’ve got a bunch of new songs coming out over the next few months so hopefully we don’t stop putting music out for a while and keep up the momentum we’ve got going. Also if you’re in LA we’re going to start playing some more shows in the area so keep your eyes peeled for new show dates!

I love to leave all interviews by paying it forward; who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

Andrew Levin: Oh I just discovered this artist Chloe Slater last week and she’s got this song I can’t get out of my head called “24 Hours.” And “Salt” by Teenage Jesus and the Jean Teasers is on repeat for me.

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:: stream/purchase Maybe I’m a Masochist here ::
:: connect with The Drives here ::
Stream: “Maybe I’m a Masochist” – The Drives

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Maybe I'm a Masochist - The Drives

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