By: Harrison Giza
What can I say about The Drums? For one, they rule. Even more than opposable thumbs. Both albums that they have released (The Drums, Portamento) showcase their diehard obsession with perfecting each track that they decide to cook up for us. The guitar bends are crisp. Every beat snaps into action like Spielberg. In fact, two of their latest tunes, “I Can’t Pretend” and “We Found It,” have quickly found a place to stay in my heart. Who can deny such soul-collapsing, dynamite-riff music?
Their third album, Encyclopedia, is already their most anticipated project yet. It drops this September, but from what I’ve heard, it sounds like a first-rate operatic summer album. “We Found It” is plain cinematic, building up to a climax of reverberated screams from what I can only assume is an angel high on the purest of PCP (Spotify: The Drums – I Can’t Pretend).
Every person I show their music to refuses to dislike it. They make songs that are meant to take over your body. Suddenly, you’re dancing. Then, the smiling kicks in. And by the time you realize the song is sadly over… you’re in your car coming back from the beach.
I got to talk with the band just a week ago, learning about the highs and lows of touring, the first albums they ever bought, and some of their bigger influences (number one being Lawrence the Cat). Sure, Encyclopedia hasn’t come out yet… but these guys have yet to fail me. Listen to what they have to share with you.
HG: So, why name the album “Encyclopedia?” How’d you decide on that?
TD: Well, not to get too literal, because sometimes something being beautiful is reason enough to hold it near and dear- but an encyclopedia is full of information and made up of many different volumes. The information found inside, while for the most part stays the same, is always being updated as new experiments take place and new things are being discovered. You shed the obsolete (Adam) and the false (Connor). We as a band have gone through a lot in the five years that we have been a working, breathing unit. Some good, some bad, but always evolving around the edges, while the core of who we are and what we do stays the same. This new album is us, reincarnated again, but this time it’s almost an anti-evolution happening – at least in the physical sense, as we are back to the two founding members, but on the other hand , it is by far our most progressive record- and that’s because we were back to just the two of us. There was no one else around to say “no that’s too epic” or “stop wining”, so we burst open the floodgates and decided to dive in head first and dig deep into every sonic fetish we’ve had building up inside us our whole lives.
HG: Are there any bands out there that you mutually hate?
TD: I’m not crazy about The Smiths. When I was a kid, sure, but I outdid myself with that stuff. Bands that I hate… There are lots of them, I mean I only know of one or two bands that I love. Jacob and I are not into “band culture”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the road and someone in a band has come up to me and asked if we wanted to go “jam with us in our rehearsal space… who knows something really rad might happen” and I just politely decline and shake my head at the ground, when really I guess I just wanna ask them “DO YOU HAVE ANY VISION, SON- YOU WANT TO JUST GET TOGETHER AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS??” Life is too short for this nonsense. If you don’t hear the whole song already and know exactly what it’s meant for, then why are you doing this at all… Music should not be recreational. It should be more urgent than that. Go camping or play football and I’ll be right there cheering you on- (and maybe more), but please don’t “play” with music.
HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.
TD: Every day the same sorry thing: Oatmeal- no sugar, no milk, and half a banana. Two perfect foods put together to make something kinda gross but good for you. How could it get better?
HG: When did you realize that you wanted be musicians? Who were you then and how have you changed?
TD: Well up till the age of 12, I was a ballet dancer, and I would dance while I ate cereal and dance while I watched TV etc, and I never thought about singing or being in a band. And then I discovered an album called Melody by a really interesting band out of Santa Ana called Joy Electric and it made me so crazy. I’ve never loved a record as much as I loved that record. I felt like that record had become a part of my body or something it was just so close to me , and It was all synthesizer for the most part- I’m sure a big The Drums fan could listen to that record and hear some of our influences I guess? I stopped being influenced by other bands when I was 13 or around that age. Anyway, After loving hearing that record I decided I wanted to make music and I knew my father had an old Sequential Circuits synthesizer in his basement that he used to play in the church that he pastors, and I asked him for it, and had to sod in a new battery and load in the presets from cassette tape which is a really stunning process. It was a Multi-Trak model so it had an on board sequencer. I recorded lot’s of songs using that system…and I would play shows like that using only that sequencer which when it went from sequence to sequence would go “BOIIIIINNNG” and “BIIIINNNNGGGBOOOOIINNG” randomly. So I would be singing this really pretty synthesizer song and out of no where , and at a much higher volume, you would get one of those “BOOOIINNGGS” but I kind thought it made the whole thing so much more interesting. I would blush every time, but secretly being saying “yes more more you little robot monster bitch”. I met Jacob right around that time and we connected over that Melody record as we were the only two people on the planet that knew or cared about it. We have not changed much at all… except, we know how to smell bullshit faster so we are much more protective with what we make now instead of handing the song over to just anyone to do anything with it. Inside the Magic Mountain we don’t have to be with them…
HG: What is the best/worst moment that has happened while you guys were performing?
TD: There is no way to answer this properly, but I’ll try. Best is when Clair Grogan of Altered Images came out and sang “Don’t Be A Jerk Johnny” with me. We love her and she was kind enough to pull out an old yellow, sparkly dress and dance around on stage. She really gave her all and we didn’t deserve her. She made us feel glamorous if only for a moment. The worst is when we never heard from her again…. no-no, she keeps in touch from time to time.
Worst moment on stage, is when I was in Leeds or something like that and my whole band is onstage, and I go to walk on and some bouncer asks to see my ID like he didn’t believe I was in the band, and I flicked him off, but only after I politely explained that I was in the band once or twice and he grabbed me and dragged me outside by my neck and ripped my beautiful jacket right down the middle. he even hit my camera girl who was on tour with us. It was a nightmare, anyhow I finally got on stage, and it could have ended up being a good thing because I was so pumped up with rage that I swore to the whole crowd that we would make that the best show ever! And then I went crazy on stage and ultimately probably ended up acting like a douche bag. It was off-putting I’m sure. He won in the end and I looked like the monster.
HG: Tell me about how you write music. How do you know when you have a riff or chorus just right?
TD: Because you basically have it all in your head already.. You are just coloring between the lines that you’ve already laid out at that point. We don’t know how to read music or play a C minor chord or whatever, so we just hear it in our heads and try to mirror it by banging on synthesizer keys and old guitar strings. I can’t give away anymore secrets!
HG: What was the first song you guys played together?
TD: Best friend! It was also the first song we wrote together! It’s also one of the few songs that we can still listen to from our past. Always moving forward, but ya know… not.
HG: I love the cover for Portamento. Tell me how you came to decide on that picture.
TD: Thanks, well we were really rushing to get everything together for that album and so since we used photographs for our last two releases, we decided to keep that going for Portamento. I was digging through old photos and found this one and I had to beg my great aunt via snail mail to let me use her image. She is a born again Christian and I am very much not, and so she really needed convincing that this was a good message we are sending out by using this image for this album. Good is maybe the most subjective word we know. We started the album with something very “good” – Book of Revelation and in your in neck deep in truth. Truth is good. Truth is not subjective, not even a little.
HG: If you can remember, tell me the first album you ever bought.
TD: First album I ever bought was Carman Yo Kidz. I loved it. I was 8 or so. Life changing stuff! I didn’t have to be alone anymore! I had Lawrence the Cat and some guy from the Sopranos to keep me warm at night.
HG: Are there any places you haven’t played at that you would want to? What can people expect from seeing you live?
TD: I’d like to do a really heavy, extensive tour through Eastern Europe. We’ve been working hard on this new live show, and it’s too soon to tell any secrets! Come find out!
16-Sep Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
17-Sep Washington, DC 9:30
20-Sep New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
22-Sep Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall
24-Sep Montreal, QC Cabaret Mile-End
25-Sep Toronto, ON Danforth Music Hall
27-Sep Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge
29-Sep Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock
1-Oct Denver, CO Gothic Theatre
2-Oct Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
3-Oct Sacramento, CA TBD FESTIVAL
5-Oct Los Angeles, CA Mayan Theatre
6-Oct San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
8-Oct Portland, OR Portland Star
9-Oct Seattle, WA Neumo’s
10-Oct Vancouver, BC Fortune