The Pretty, The Tragic, and Horseshit: The Drums [Q&A Interview]
Everyone has guilty pleasures, but I have a guilty addiction. I’m completely obsessed with “Gossip Girl”. The dramatic story paired with the dramatic outfits are a great combination to keep me at bay on a Monday night. Little did I know that my guilty addiction would put me onto a band helmed as the new-age The Cure by listeners and praised as the band to watch by B.B.C. and Rolling Stone. It’s the New York-based indie band, The Drums. Their breakthrough, “Down By The Water” narrated the drama in that faithful “Gossip Girl” episode and instead of the storyline, I was fixated with who it was I was listening to. Once I hit the web, I was shocked to find their self-titled record is filled with eclectic, pop diddies that nod to 50′s doo-wop to 80′s synth rock. It’s a beautiful collage of eras and love songs that you can’t help but be addicted to. I caught up with Jonny Pierce of The Drums to only further intensify my addiction with this revealing Q&A.
How did The Drums form? Where did you guys meet?
Jacob and I have been friends since we were very young and grew up in each other’s lives. We met Connor in New York City in 2008 when we were looking for a drummer to start playing shows.
Was there a instant chemistry?
Absolutely. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. It all felt right and really clicked in to place. We quickly learned that we all shared a similar view of the world and of pop music. It is always such a wondrous thing to find another like yourself or close enough to yourself where you feel you have something magical and something secret that no one else could ever really feel or understand. Maybe that’s why we quickly started feeling like outsiders. Maybe we did this to ourselves.
There’s seems to be a strong 80′s & 50′s influence in your music. Is this a conscious choice?
Well, the sounds that are laced around a song has never really been as exciting as the song itself, in my opinion. There are certain songs like “Down By The Water” where, obviously we are paying tribute to 1950′s/1960′s American pop, but other songs I think really sound like that do because that is just how they ended up. The only instruments we had to record was an old guitar, an old Roland keyboard, a snare and floor tom, and a $35 microphone. We could not buy a bass guitar or new equipment if we wanted to, so we had to work within those limits and thats how we found our sound. It was sort of forced, but felt natural in the end.
How does performing and being in New York influence your work?
Well we are really never in New York anymore. We have been on tour almost since the very beginning of this band so we have not had time to let New York effect our sound. It’s probably not being in New York that would effect our sound at this point, because it is all we know now. That said, New York is where we all call home and the place we love the most and when we start recording more of the next record, we will most likely do it in New York.
You’ve garnered a large amount of critical acclaim from Rolling Stone and BBC.
Do I sound silly saying we feel like veterans of handling pressure at this point? We have essentially been in the spotlight since the first show we played in 2008, which was much too soon for us to feel comfortable. Luckily, by that point we had pretty much completed the first album and so there was no pressure to record. We had already made an album we loved and were proud of. The only way to handle pressure is to ignore. People, critics, press, and even fans are fickle and nothing last forever so all you can do is keep your head down and work hard and make music you love and then you wont want to kill yourself later.
The Drums cite The Shangri-Las to The Zombies as musical influences.
Well, I think something we have in common with those groups is a love for a simple pop song. We are inspired by imagery probably more so than by other musical acts, honestly. A lot of our music is birthed our of imagery. Films, photographs etc.
What is music missing?
I can’t speak for the world, but for me, I rarely hear music that makes me feel anything anymore. Maybe that’s just me being numb. I don’t really follow modern music trends so it’s hard to really tell you what is missing right now.
The lyrics and vocals on songs like “Down By The Water” are very soulful.
I (Jonny) write and record the songs alone and most of the songs are personal but there are a handful that are more idea driven, dream driven.
Your songs are featured on shows like “Gossip Girl”. Is that exposure important for The Drums?
It’s a very case by case thing, we have also said no to a hundred things that didn’t feel right. At the end of the day the scene did not offend us really, and we always say we would rather have a lot of people hear good music rather than a lot of people hear bad music.
Pop on pop.
Tell us about “The Drums” and what anyone who hasn’t heard it already can expect to hear from it!
We are just 3 guys who try to write simple pop songs that feel like rock and roll when played live.
“Summertime!” was an excellent EP, did you expect the attention it garnered when creating it?
Absolutely not. We had no idea anyone would ever hear our music, and then the opposite happened.
What are some upcoming projects the band is working on?
Well we are just trying to finish this tour and then we will be able to get working on the new album.
Is there work on a new record? A tentative date?
Yes, and No. It will be done when it’s done. But I imagine it won’t take very long.
Who are the band’s dream collaborations?
It would be great to partner up with Primal Scream for a song or an album.
Where will The Drums be in 10 years?
Broken up and hateful. Or dead.
The Drums are shaping to be one of the hottest bands in 2011. In one of their most infectious songs, “Don’t Be a Jerk, Jonny”, Jonny Pierce sings “[...] believe in something, you’re full of horseshit.” Let’s hope when Jonny was talking about the fate of the band he was just full of horseshit because I sure do believe in The Drums. The Drums are too good to fall victim to any ‘E! True Hollywood’-esque causalities. Cheers to hope!
- Myles E. Johnson