Hangar 9 welcomes The Driftaways

By Marissa Novel

With traditional reggae influences, ska-like brass progressions and a little dash of blues, The Driftaways are seven pieces of one funky puzzle.

The Driftaways, from St. Louis, will perform Friday at Hangar 9. Doors open at 9 p.m. and Copecetic will open the show at 10 p.m.

The band, comprised of a guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboard player, alto saxophonist, trombonist and trumpeter, has performed at various venues and music festivals in the Midwest on their summer tour.


The DAILY EGYPTIAN talked with alto saxophone player Zaq Nunley before the show this weekend.

Would you mind telling me a little bit about the origin of The Driftaways? 

The Driftaways started out four years ago, originally as The Reptilians, after several of our members left the St. Louis-based hardcore band The Deficit. After realizing we wanted to start playing more danceable mellow music, reggae music just seemed the perfect direction. Soon we added horns and keyboards, filling out the classic roots reggae sound we had been searching for.

How did you develop your eclectic style? Have you always been influenced by the reggae, ska and dub genres or has it evolved over the years? 

Being a seven-piece band, our various influences are too many to count. Some of us started out playing punk and hardcore. Others played in third-wave ska bands early in their musical career. Our horn players spent some time studying music as a college major, spending time performing with classical and jazz ensembles. Such a wide variety of styles and influences is what gives us our signature sound, something that is completely our own.

The Driftaways have relentlessly taken on the St. Louis music scene. Which venue do you feel fits the band’s style the most? 

There are so many great venues to play here in St. Louis. 2720 Cherokee is one that stands out in my mind. It has been a hub for culture and art for such a long time. It is really a treat to perform there. The energy there is like nothing else in the world.


How has the summer tour been going thus far? 

The road has been really great to us this year. We’ve played in Kentucky, Indiana and North Carolina this summer, plus extensive touring in Missouri and Illinois. With only one flat tire I’d say we’ve had some great luck. We were able to make it to the Atlantic Ocean, which was a huge milestone.

Are there any towns or venues outside of St. Louis you especially like playing while on tour? And if so, why? 

There are so many great towns across the country that we love to visit. Getting to meet people from different areas and walks of life is one of the things that make it worthwhile. We really enjoy playing at music festivals. Something about being outside surrounded by music-loving people is incredibly intoxicating.

How many years have you been coming to Carbondale? Do you have any specific venues you enjoy performing at here? 

We have been playing Carbondale for over a year now, and it has always been a blast. Tres Hombres has always treated us like family, plus they have some great food. Rustle Hill Winery is a little south of Carbondale, but we’ve had some great shows out there as well. We are excited for our debut at Hangar 9 this Friday and looking forward to making some great memories there.

What does the future have in store for The Driftaways? 

We are currently working on finishing our first studio album called “Burn Down Babylon,” and we are ready to record our next album sometime early next year. Then it’s tour, tour, tour to promote all this new music.