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The Drums:  The ironic charm of their music

The Drums: The ironic charm of their music

A new band and their success in the Indie scene will respond not only about the musical creativity and great compositions, like unforgettable songs and structured melodies and be recognized as one of the most popular and solid musicians inside the new generations (I refer about young people who are looking for upcoming and fresh bands influenced by the sounds of legendary groups from past decades), but also the huge effect that this band can cause in all generations, since the 60s to our days because of their sound influences of the past and familiar rhytms that can remind about youth and living experiences without forgetting that these upcoming and new bands are growing in a new era creating a unique style approaching the new methods and modern technologies.

THE GENERATIONAL INFLUENCE OF THE DRUMS

The ideas given in the introduction part means how a new Rock band is connected or inmerse into a new generation or a “generational movement”. This could be the immediate thing and a theme that is always involve in music, specifically Indie music. But the real truth, breaking patterns and parameters, is that there´s no age to listen good and new music, simply it´s a matter to accept the new musical tendencies and styles and hear with too much attention the musical purposal offered by the artists. Also the tastes and appreciations have an important role to decide what artists deserves our admiration because each one of us is unique and an individual human being.

THE DRUMS ARE ONE OF THE BEST BANDS OF THIS DECADE BECAUSE OF THEIR SPONTANEOUS MUSICAL                            STYLE MEETING MANY AND DIFFERENT GENERATIONS.
THE DRUMS ARE ONE OF THE BEST BANDS OF THIS DECADE BECAUSE OF THEIR SPONTANEOUS MUSICAL
STYLE MEETING MANY AND DIFFERENT GENERATIONS.

This is the beginning point to comment about the expectations and popularity that generates the amazing northamerican band THE DRUMS because their music meet so many and different generations and is well-known and welcome in many countries around the world maybe for their ironic charm in the compositions, the superb quality of their infectious songs full of adrenaline and elaborated reminding sounds, riffs and styles of bands of past decades.

Another point is their fresh and spontaneuos look with a great sense of humour, their incredible live shows and the hability to insert their musical style naturally in a new context and in a new era with an irreverent and original attitude and being one of the greatest bands of this decade.

THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS IN CONCERT: A. JONNY PIERCE B. JACOB GRAHAM C. ADAM KESSLER D. CONNOR HANWICK.
THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS IN CONCERT: A. JONNY PIERCE B. JACOB GRAHAM C. ADAM KESSLER D. CONNOR HANWICK.

THE IRRESISTIBLE AND ENERGETIC MELODIES OF THE DEBUT ALBUM

Coming from the city of Brooklyn in New York – USA, THE DRUMS were one of the best promises with their excellent first EP called “Summertime” (2009), then they released their debut album titled “The Drums” (2010), under Island Records and Moshi Moshi Records, with fantastic reviews not only in the USA but also in the UK and other countries around the world, many people thought they were from Europe because of their different vibe.

For this EP and the eponymous LP the members of the band were: JONNY PIERCE in the voices and synths, JACOB GRAHAM and ADAM KESSLER in the guitars and finally CONNOR HANWICK in the drums. When I had in my hands this first LP and then started to listen to it many times I was very happy that a new and young band were creating awesome and emotional music with an accurate production…the songs started to grow on me and became irresistible melodies day after day.

COVER AND BACKCOVER OF THE “SUMMERTIME” EP (2009) SIGNED BY JACOB GRAHAM. (PHOTOS: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ)FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).
COVER AND BACKCOVER OF THE “SUMMERTIME” EP (2009) SIGNED BY JACOB GRAHAM. (PHOTOS: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ)FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).
COVER AND BACKCOVER OF “THE DRUMS” (2010) LP, THEIR FIRST ALBUM, SIGNED BY JACOB GRAHAM. (PHOTOS: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).
COVER AND BACKCOVER OF “THE DRUMS” (2010) LP, THEIR FIRST ALBUM, SIGNED BY JACOB GRAHAM. (PHOTOS: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).

This album is full of beauty melodies with a natural and spontaneous vibe, a lot of energy and a mix of an optimistic and epic sound…brilliant from the beginning to the end. Every song is memorable, like: “Me And The Moon”, “Let`s Go Surfing”, “Skippin`Town”, “Forever And Ever Amen”, “Best Friend”, “It Will All End In Tears”, etc.

If I had to define an style of this album it will be the Rockabilly of the 60s, Surf-Rock, Oceanic Rock with a great guitar sound flavoured with Post-Punk and New Wave. The influences are notorious, I will name some groups: THE BEACH BOYS, FELT, JOY DIVISION/NEW ORDER, WIRE TRAIN, INDOCHINE, THE SMITHS/MORRISSEY, PALE SAINTS, R.E.M., THE LEGENDS, etc.

A detail is that exists an album of the incredible British band FELT called “Me And A Monkey On The Moon” (1989), perhaps this title has inspired the best single of their first record called “Me And The Moon”.

The Drums – Me And The Moon

“ME AND THE MOON” IS A WONDERFUL SINGLE AND ONE OF THE BEST SONGS OF THIS DECADE.

THE NEW FOCUS OF“PORTAMENTO” (2011), THE AMAZING SECOND LP

The return of THE DRUMS is called “Portamento” (2011), their second musical adventure with great reviews and the best example of what a band should do taking new musical paths without leaving their roots and offering something totally different and new.

Definitely this record means a solid step in their musical evolution where the melodies are carefully treated with a new focus in mind. Now the themes are more complex with a great palette of elaborated sounds where the Electronic and Synth-Pop styles let them experiment and explore new forms and spaces creating a more intimate, introspective, melancholic and dark album in most of the songs.

THE DRUMS SUPPORTING AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL FOR THE END OF THE DEATH PENALTY.
THE DRUMS SUPPORTING AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL FOR THE END OF THE DEATH PENALTY.

Making a difference or comparation between the two albums, the first one is more direct and the songs are catchy for the first time, the second one is more complex and is necessary to listen to it many times to enjoy the songs.

A debut LP can be more fresh and spontaneous with an own feeling and the second one can be risky as being more elaborated and experimental or things can happen exactly in the opposite way. This subject doesn´t mean that the first album is better than the second or third one necessarily. Simply they have different styles and according to the tastes and choices of everyone we can select the best, some of them or their whole discography.

In conclusion, THE DRUMS has explore a lot in their new musical adventure expanding their horizons to give us pleasant and delightful sounds more Avant-Garde oriented and radical styles without loosing their essence where each song can be recognized as part of this new material creating a valious document. A great band will do different things always and experiment looking for new formulas without falling in monotony, the purposal of an artist is offer something new and original.

THE NEW FORMATION AND THE DIVERSITY OF INFLUENCES

For the recording of “Portamento” (2011) the members were the same, but sadly, the guitarist ADAM KESSLER quit the band. For that time THE DRUMS were a trio: JONNY PIERCE (vocals and drums), JACOB GRAHAM (synths) and CONNOR HANWICK (guitar). This new album, as the first one, has been edited by Island Records and Moshi Moshi Records.

The sound of the band is more mature, the Surf-Rock and the Rockabilly are present in an indirect way and appear like second actors. The Post-Punk, Experimentation and the Dark ambient play a leading role and also the familiar sounds of the New Wave style.

JONNY, JACOB AND CONNOR
JONNY, JACOB AND CONNOR

The themes have many layers and textures and the influence of the iconic band JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER is more present than ever. “Portamento” (2011) shows a great palette of influences and sounds than the debut album, for example: THE BEACH BOYS, LOVE, THE ZOMBIES, KRAFTWERK, HARMONIA, O.M.D, TALK TALK, ULTRAVOX, THE CURE, MODERN ENGLISH, THE CHAMELEONS, WIRE, FELT, THE DURUTTI COLUMN, JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER, THE SMITHS, MORRISSEY, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, WIRE TRAIN, THE OCEAN BLUE, PALE SAINTS, INDOCHINE, R.E.M., THE LEGENDS, THE BELL, STARS IN COMA, etc.

A BRIEF REVIEW OF THE THEMES INCLUDED IN “PORTAMENTO” (2011)

Listening to this fabulous album I was surprised because THE DRUMS have divided intelligently the record in many parts and the songs are placed in a special order, maybe to create an effect in the listener. The first three themes have a similar style, more Surf and calm, and the next three are more Post-Punk and danceable. We continue with the song Nº 7: “Searching For Heaven”, in the middle of the record, and creates a breaking point because is the central theme, the most Experimental and almost instrumental composed as an “intro” to the next four songs with a Dark and Ambient vibe. Finally, the last song titled “How It Ended” (N° 12) presents a joyful, optimistic and Experimental style. The creation of parts or groups of songs on “Portamento” works as a whole making an original record.

COVER AND BACKCOVER OF “PORTAMENTO” (2011), THEIR SECOND ALBUM, SIGNED BY JACOB GRAHAM. (PHOTOS: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).
COVER AND BACKCOVER OF “PORTAMENTO” (2011), THEIR SECOND ALBUM,
SIGNED BY JACOB GRAHAM. (PHOTOS: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).

“Portamento” include 12 new songs, here they are:

Book Of Revelation: A great opening song, merry and infectious, voices and whispers that appears in the way giving an extra treatment. There are many rhythms and claps making an epic theme. At the middle of the song we found funny and experimental sounds that indicate us what will come after…like the best moments of the Swedish band THE LEGENDS…what a great influence !!!.

Days: One of the selected cuts to be a single and works very well, awesome and Dreamy, a tender and melodic ballad. This track could belong to the first LP, but the Lo-Fi style doesn´t fit because the Surf-Rock keeps now in a second plane…it´s like the song was transformed in a Dream-Surf-Rock melody…remind me of FELT, a beautiful song !!!.

The Drums – Days

THE TENDER AND DREAMY NOTES OF THE SINGLE “DAYS” CREATE A FABULOUS TRACK.

What You Were: A more rockier, energic and danceable Indie-Pop tune, an acoustic and permanent guitar comes along the song with a peculiar rhythm…the sound given by the saxophone create a wonderful feeling, like the best songs of THE OCEAN BLUE and WIRE TRAIN, really amazing !!!.

The Drums – What You Where (Live on KEXP)

LIVE SESSION OF “WHAT YOU WERE” ON THE KEXP RADIO IN SEATTLE, USA.

Money: The first single from “Portamento”, let´s gonna dance with this splendid, fast and catchy theme, one of my all-time favourites and one of the best of the album. The sound of the trumpet in the middle of the song is spectacular…the classic Psychedelic band LOVE could be an influence. When they played in Lima, for the first time, this song created an euphoric vibe on the audience at their maximum level, all the people were dancing and singing incessantly. Classyfing this theme it could belong to a new style: Post-Punk-Dance…a timeless classic of this new decade, magnificent !!!.

The Drums – Money

THE CATCHY AND JOYFUL “MONEY” WAS THE DEBUT SINGLE FROM “PORTAMENTO” (2011), AN EXCELLENT CHOICE.

Hard To Love: A synth invite us to hear this intoxicating melody that goes in the same way of the “Money” single, the sound effects bring me back memories of the talented band ULTRAVOX. A very-well elaborated song, hilarious and attractive, full of surprises…the mix of the original choirs and the melodies are connected in a great way with the voice of Jonny singing: “You`re Hard To Love, You`re Hard To Love…”, superb !!!.

I Don`t Know How To Love: A lovely and majestic theme, creates a trilogy with the two previous tracks but more nostalgic and melancholic. The final moment is impressive with instrumental strokes of Oceanic Rock in the way the great PALE SAINTS band did plus a flavour of Shoegaze or Ambient music, maybe influenced by the brilliant band SLOWDIVE or the talented musician ROBIN GUTHRIE (ex-guitarrist from COCTEAU TWINS). Also this instrumental part is the perfect introduction to the following song, brilliant !!!.

Searching For Heaven: Be prepared to listen this symphony with an Ambient and Experimental touch. THE DRUMS show us their new face giving a twist of 180º to their music, also has a cinematic feeling…let´s feel the great influence of the Krautrock style of cult German bands like KRAFTWERK or HARMONIA and the Ambient of the genius BRIAN ENO. Like I said before this theme represents a breaking point in the album because it represents an “intro” to the next songs with a more dark and different vibe…simply fascinating !!!.

Please Don´t Leave: By far is the best song from the album, this is the reason why the previous theme “Searching For Heaven” has been served as a preamble and then begins a new chapter in the album. This track has a unimaginable beauty…so pleasant and Dreamy in the beginning, then it turns more dramatic and Darky with an incessant guitar mixed with the robotic, experimental and repetitive voices of Jonny. Finally appears an explosive guitar with more fast and dark notes invocating the best riffs of the excellent bands JOY DIVISION, THE CHAMELEONS, FELT and WIRE TRAIN…hyper-elaborated and beautiful, to listen it forever !!!.

If He Likes It Let Him Do It: And the surprises don´t stop, the Dark sequence continue to bring us this amazing cut, without no doubt is the most Darky song composed by THE DRUMS in their whole career. We can feel a gothic air, seems like the voices and synths are reflected in a lonely night…a contemplative and ghostly guitar with black notes fill the space…like the first records from JOY DIVISION, THE CURE or THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, what a pleasure of song !!!.

The Drums performs “If He Likes It Let Him Do It” – CYP2 Presents

THE DARKY AND IMPRESSIVE “IF HE LIKES IT LET HIM DO IT” IN CONCERT.

I Need A Doctor: A surreal tune, less Darky but bizarre, playful, comic and ironic in the music and lyrics. A song full of random sounds and sampled voices. It reminds me of the fantastic experimental exercises of WIRE, one of my favourite groups. Jonny sings ironically: “I Need A Doctor, I Need A Doctor, You Know I Love You, I Wanna Kill You”…looks like Jonny “needs a good physiquiatrist”…a bright and passionate track !!!.

In The Cold: A very peculiar and innovative theme, a sad and beautiful ballad, nostalgic, hipnotic and dark (as the song title). Jonny´s voice and the choirs are well-treated as laments or requests with an optimistic touch. The final part is surrounded by instrumental and ambient textures…a good referent could be great bands like THE DURUTTI COLUMN or FELT…a lot of feeling in this intelligent cut !!!.

How It Ended: Another of the singles of “Portamento”, a more structured song, joyful and melancholic, the guitar riffs can be similar to the accords of THE SMITHS and MORRISSEY. We can feel superb eightees synths that remind me bands like O.M.D, TALK TALK or NEW ORDER, an excellent final point for this brilliant album. Jonny says goodbye singing: “I Don´t Know How it Ended, I Don`t know Where You Ran To, I`ll Always Be Right Here”…”.

The Drums – How It Ended

“HOW IT ENDED” IS THE FINAL SINGLE AND REPRESENTS A REVIVAL OF THE NEW WAVE STYLE

“ENCYCLOPEDIA” (2014): THE LONG-AWAITED BRAND NEW ALBUM

Once again THE DRUMS are back with their latest release called “Encyclopedia” (2014), available in a pre-order form and will be in stores in September. “Magic Mountain” is the first single from this third record and means another big step in their career because is very different from the previous records but keeping the essence of the band. This theme is a powerful and a mind-blowing tune, stronger and outrageous, and the Post-Punk style has more voltage and velocity.

COVER OF THE SINGLE “MAGIC MOUNTAIN” (LEFT) AND THE NEW ALBUM “ENCYCLOPEDIA” (2014) (RIGHT).
COVER OF THE SINGLE “MAGIC MOUNTAIN” (LEFT) AND THE NEW ALBUM
“ENCYCLOPEDIA” (2014) (RIGHT).

The sound effects and the experimentation travel to unexpected new territories with an ear-candy flavour. The Noise-Rock and the Psychedelia styles are more notorious playing an important role joined with a predominant New Wave style and many Surf-Rock notes…the new style could be a Psychedelic-New Wave or Psychedelic-Surf-Rock…spectacular !!!.

The Drums – Magic Mountain (Official Video)

“MAGIC MOUNTAIN” IS THE INCREDIBLE NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO PRESENTING AN EXPLOSION OF NEW SOUNDS AND THE FIRST SONG FROM THEIR UPCOMING RELEASE CALLED “ENCYCLOPEDIA” (2014).

Today THE DRUMS are a duet integrated with their founder members: JONNY PIERCE and JACOB GRAHAM. The drummer CONNOR HANWICK left the band. Maybe this is why Jonny and Jacob show a new sound but the ironic charm of their music continues.

ACTUALLY THE DRUMS ARE A DUET INTEGRATED BY THEIR FOUNDER MEMBERS: JONNY PIERCE (LEFT) AND JACOB GRAHAM (RIGHT).
ACTUALLY THE DRUMS ARE A DUET INTEGRATED BY THEIR FOUNDER MEMBERS:
JONNY PIERCE (LEFT) AND JACOB GRAHAM (RIGHT).

THE UNFORGETTABLE CONCERT OF THE DRUMS IN LIMA

THE DRUMS played live in Lima for the first time on October 17, 2012 in Scencia, La Molina. A show out of this world, unforgettable, very intense and connected in a perfect way with the audience. The band demonstrated their great professionalism and commitment on stage. I was witness of a memorable and incredible night to see performing live a band with a wonderful feeling and a crowd so grateful to enjoy a fantastic moment. The most important thing was the presence in our city of a new and actual band in the top of their career with the same scenic display, like other countries, offering their recent songs of big relevance and validity. Actually Lima has converted in an excellent musical destination to be considerated by any musician or band in their tours. This doesn´t happen some years ago. The beginning of a new chapter has started.

THE DRUMS OFFERED AN SPECTACULAR CONCERT IN LIMA IN SCENCIA, LA MOLINA ON 2012. (PHOTO: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).
THE DRUMS OFFERED AN SPECTACULAR CONCERT IN LIMA IN SCENCIA, LA MOLINA ON 2012.
(PHOTO: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).
ANOTHER PICTURE OF THEIR FIRST SHOW IN LIMA. IN A FIRST PLANE WE CAN SEE SINGING JONNY PIERCE, THE FRONTMAN. BEHIND HIM IS JACOB GRAHAM, THE KEYBOARD PLAYER. (PHOTO: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).
ANOTHER PICTURE OF THEIR FIRST SHOW IN LIMA. IN A FIRST PLANE WE CAN SEE SINGING
JONNY PIERCE, THE FRONTMAN. BEHIND HIM IS JACOB GRAHAM, THE KEYBOARD PLAYER.
(PHOTO: FERNANDO RIVERA RODRÍGUEZ).

Photos and videos: Courtesy of Island Records, Moshi Moshi Records, Radio KEXP and THE DRUMS.
Additional artwork, graphics and photos: Fernando Rivera Rodríguez.
Web page edition: Jorge Bazo Escudero

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About The Author

Fernando Rivera Rodríguez

Arquitecto, ha colaborado en la revista Dosis: Cultura Alternativa Perú. Colecciona música Indie, Experimental, Electrónica, Shoegaze, Dream-Pop, Psicodelia, Krautrock, Post-Rock, New-Wave, Post-Punk, Dark-Rock, etc. desde los años 60s hasta la actualidad. Admirador del sello 4AD Records y fan de COCTEAU TWINS, STEREOLAB y DEAD CAN DANCE entre otras bandas.

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