12/17/2019

THE DRUMS interview




The Drums started in 2008 by childhood friends Jonny Pierce (vocals) and Jacob Graham 
(keyboards). By 2009, they had relocated to Brooklyn and found other band members. The  first album The Drums (2010) came out to critical acclaim. Many tours and TV appearances followed. The second album Portamento (2011) came out quickly, in the midst of tours, and a high profile in the UK. At the end of 2012, some members left the band. Pierce and Graham focused on solo work. Most of 2013 was a break for The Drums. In the fall 2014, they reunited and released their third full-length record Encyclopedia (2014). The new album contains some of their best songs including “Kiss Me Again” and “I Can’t Pretend”

Back on the tour circuit, The Drums soon played many festivals such as Beach Goth. 
In Summer 2015, they are playing Outside Lands and FYF Fest. They are bringing their 
unique brand of synth pop to the people. Recently there is a new remix, courtesy of 
TOKiMONSTA, by transforming Encyclopedia's “There Is Nothing Left.”

AL:  There was a break before the third album, Encyclopedia. What were you 
doing during that time?

Jonny: I’m a pretty frantic person and it’s hard for me to remember dates and times. My 
whole life is one big blur, but let me think for a minute. Oh yes! We purposely took a full 
year without writing any material for the band. We were so physically, mentally, and 
spiritually depleted after the Portamento album cycle. Too much touring, too much press, 
too many photo shoots, and saying yes to almost every opportunity. It was killing us. I 
mean, we lost two band members due to the constant ever-pressing schedule and I don’t 
think Jacob and I were too far away from calling it quits ourselves. I don’t think that even 
if we wanted to that we could have pulled off the glory of Encyclopedia had we chosen to 
jump straight into it coming off tour. We needed an off switch. I had just bought a small 
cabin on a lake in a very natural setting so I spent pretty much that entire year reconnecting 
with nature and also with myself. I also got married to a Dutchman against all odds!!        

AL: Was living in New York City an influence on the newest album?

Jonny: Living in New York influences everything whether you want it to or not, and 
whether you are aware of it or not. It’s such a powerful and complex place. Although I did 
end up moving to Los Angeles about half a year ago, I find New York much more nurturing to artists. There is a real spirit of artistic togetherness. A tangible community. New York kind of spit 
out its artists in the last few years, as well at least those of us who weren’t born rich. I 
would encourage anyone who is choosing between the two to try LA. I will always love 
New York more, because it taught me everything I know. It showed me the world is huge 
and everyone matters and it also showed me how small the world is and how nothing 
actually matters.

AL:  I was watching this documentary called Synth Britannia which was about British 
Synth bands in the 1980s. It’s was odd that many of the best synth bands, like Yaz and 
Soft Cell, were duos. It seems like a natural thing. What do think about synthesizers and 
duos? 

Jonny: Yeah. I think synths and drum machines do so much that you don’t need as many 
members. It’s also hard to find dudes who have the right balance of testosterone. Lots of 
guys I know just insist on playing the guitar because it makes them feel macho and they 
get quite territorial over it. They wouldn’t be caught dead playing a synth on stage. Takes a 
special breed who are fewer and farther between that allow themselves to become delicate. 
I’ve never liked the synth-duo thing so much, though. I like bands much more: if only for 
the gang-mentality. I miss having four band members. I love the feeling of family (probably because I never knew that as a child) and I don’t always get that with Jacob. He is such a loner, and 
I am too, but I am much more social and always want to be closer. He keeps me at bay. I 
think I’m too intense for him. He seems to want to have a more relaxed and chilled out 
life style, and me, I want to have a rich life full of extremes. I want to feel total despair and 
unfiltered bliss and everything in between - but pretty much all at the same time, all the 
time. I feel bad for my husband.

AL: I saw you play at Beach Goth last year. This summer you are playing Outside Lands 
and FYF Fest. Do you like playing these festivals?

Jonny: I love Beach Goth, but I hated how they had Pauly Shore kick us off stage after 
only playing 4 or 5 songs. We pulled a HUGE crowd and it was not our fault that we went 
on late. But we got bit in the ass and I thought it was a bit embarrassing being asked to
leave publicly. I would love to come back, but I can only do it if they honor the time limits. 
We are a band to be taken seriously. We work too hard. 

Overall, I used to really hate performing outdoors. Too many variables, but recently, we’ve 
had a good run and our crowds are only getting bigger and bigger and full of loyal fans. We 
used to have huge crowds, but there was a real empty feeling because half the people there 
were only there because we were the new buzz band. Now, those people are in line for the 
next new, buzzy thing (as lemmings do) and our crowds are still huge, but the connection 
is now real because we aren’t riding off hype anymore: we are riding off of a real 
connection to other weirdoes like us. At long last, a cement foundation.

AL: Since you took a year off and spent some time doing this record, were there some 
new influences, such as books and films, which affected the new record?

Jonny: I think my biggest influence on Encyclopedia was nature. I took a very long trip 
through the different wildernesses in America. Forest, deserts, huge lakes, mountaintops, 
waterfalls, elk, bison, etc and I was reminded how insignificant we all are. The record 
shows a real appreciation for this idea of being relatively unimportant in the great scheme 
of things. The album also has some real rebellious themes that were inspired by nature and 
evolution specifically. I’ve always had a hard time with authority. It’s like “ok sir, we were 
all once single cell organisms and it took us hundreds of millions of years to evolve into 
who we are now and you are going to tell me I can’t marry a man? Fuck off!” Nature 
worked way too hard to have these assholes telling any of us what to do or how to think. 
Everything is chance! It always has been and will always be! I mean these same people who 
say I can’t suck a dick will probably - in a billion years - evolve into new creatures that 
have a tongue where their dick is and a dick where their tongue is, or at least one can only 
hope. 

AL: What do you think of people taking pictures of you with their cell phones?

Jonny: I used to hate it but I’ve let loose about these types of things. My fans will wait in 
the freezing cold outside a venue or in intense heat so the least I can do is offer them a 
funny selfie moment. Our fans are so diehard that it’s hard to say no to them - ever. 

AL: What are some bands that you have enjoyed playing with?

Jonny: Beverly, Io Echo, Girls, DMA’s . 

AL: Do you collect old analog synths?

Jonny: I do! I always have! Jacob and I have been collecting since we were 12 and 13. 
We’ve seen a lot of really nice ones come and go. Jacob’s studio looks like something 
out of a science fiction movie, and well I sell off my synths more often than not because 
I like trying new things. I recently just parted ways with a Korg PS-3100. It was one of the 
first - if not the first polyphonic personal “mobile” synthesizer they developed. I bought it in 
Tokyo. I cried when I first played it. Music can be so intoxicating: if you’re in the right 
mind frame and in the right place at the right time. 





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