The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Cold Engines. Courtesy photo.

Cold Engines

When:  Saturday, Dec. 6 at 9 p.m.
Where: Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester

Dream band
Cold Engines combines ex-Brew mates with Boston talent

By Michael Witthaus

 As a member of The Brew, Dave Drouin enjoyed critical acclaim and big-stage gigs over a 12-year run. In retrospect, though, none of that success matches the fulfillment Drouin feels with his new group, Cold Engines. 

“It was a pretty good band, but I don’t know if it had the honesty of this project at all,” the songwriter and guitarist said recently. “This just so happens to be my dream band.”
Listening to Cold Engines’ debut album, Day Drinker, it’s not hard to share his enthusiasm. Soaring harmonies, layered percussion and a spicy mariachi trumpet mark the opening track, “Kismet,” and it stays satisfying throughout. Urgent, evocative yet disciplined and polished, the record is sure to wind up on many regional top 10 lists at year’s end, and a deal with a prominent Boston label is imminent.
The 11 songs on the disc were all written as the end of The Brew loomed, a period of increasing artistic frustration for Drouin.  
“I was standing in a studio for months at a time waiting for the main songwriting dude to write songs,” he said. “The whole time, I was writing my own songs that weren’t getting accepted to the fold. I was like, ‘I have to start my own band.”
Drouin first reached out to New Highway Hymnal bassist and singer Amelia Gormely, a longtime friend.  
“I always knew I wanted to be in a band with her, so that’s how it started,” he said. “She’s got a badass look and style, and she plays a seriously badass bass.”
The next recruit came from his old band. 
“Aaron Zaroulis was my brother in The Brew, and my favorite drummer on the North Shore,” said Drouin. 
Soul Rebel Project percussionist Geoff Pilkington completed the band that entered the studio last July. NYC session guitarist David Krystal joined a few months later. 
“I needed certain pieces, and these were the first people I called,” said Drouin. “Lucky for me, they all wanted to do it.”
Day Drinker includes guest appearances from Adam Ezra, Johnny Blue Horn, Audrey Ryan, Ben Alleman and Steve Benson, but it’s the band’s undeniable chemistry that shines through. The twang and soul of the studio travels well to the stage. 
“The last few shows I’ve played have been the best of my life,” said Drouin. “I can’t even believe this new band is hitting on a level that my band of 12 years couldn’t get to.”
The album was completed almost a year from the day his old group performed its final show. 
“I released a lot of albums with the Brew and it just kind of felt like the continuation of my life,” Drouin said. “Like that’s what I’m supposed to do — make records. It wasn’t shocking or surprising; it felt totally normal to have a new album a year later.”
With the record deal imminent, a new album (mostly) reflecting a group dynamic is underway. 
“Sometimes I bring a completed song to the table and everybody contributes to the arrangement, sometimes I’ll write one with everyone there, sometimes Aaron and I will meet up,” Drouin said. “It goes from not being democratic at all to all of us writing together on the spot. We don’t have any hard and fast rules.”
Record deals, press raves and fan acclaim are a bonus. 
“We’re not trying to do anything other than try and get back to why we started playing music in the first place,” Drouin said. “We’re having a ton of fun, which is the only reason, I think, to be in a band anyway.”  
As seen in the December 4, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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