Dark and drenched in reverb, the experimental psychedelic rock of Sonoma County trio the Drought Cult mixes dreamy hooks and fuzzed-out guitars for a lush gothic sound.
Formed and fronted by Santa Rosa native Francesco Echo, whose musical career began with high school band Girls in Suede and flourished recently with the John Courage Trio, the Drought Cult unleashed its sophomore EP,
The Truth, earlier this month, featuring four tracks of heavy, hypnotic rock that recall the post-punk of Joy Division and industrial grit of Nine Inch Nails.
A stark departure from the roots-rock and garage-band sound of previous projects, the Drought Cult reflects Echo’s personal philosophy about music. “I really feel like the only thing I want out of it is to feel like I’m progressing,” Echo says. “We all gauge our success; I try to gauge mine on small, achievable goals—being satisfied with the art we’re making, and doing what small working bands do.”
That attitude toward creative progress led to Echo leaving Sonoma County about three years ago to tour with Tucson’s Burning Palms, thinking it was a stepping stone to a larger career in music. After a summer in Arizona, Echo says he started having an existential crisis.
“I would take these walks out into the desert,” he says. “I realized that I still felt strong in the reasons why I left, but that the one thing that I could never rebuild was my . . . community” in Sonoma County.
“Whatever happens with music, what I need is a community. I need to feel immersed in love and familiarity and to contribute to that,” says Echo. “There’s no other place I can do that, despite my wanderlust. I had to go back to Santa Rosa.”
After his return, Echo ventured into creating art and sculpture, and recruited longtime Santa Rosa bassist Jef Overn (Litany for the Whale) and recently added drummer Dan Ford to make what he calls “spooky music” with the Drought Cult.
With two strong EPs to their name, the Drought Cult are focusing on multimedia projects like music videos and mesmerizing audiences with spellbinding live shows.
“I need to feel like I can get onstage and basically put myself into a trance with the music we’re creating,” Echo says. “If anything else, it’s to make myself feel good, and having my friends on board is the best part of that.”