From left: Connor Hanwick, Jonathan Pierce, Adam Kessler, Jacob Graham
If you live in Europe or read Under the Radar magazine then you’ve probably heard of the Drums. If not, then please stop trying to convince yourself that Grizzly Bear is going to change the face of indie music and do yourself a favor by checking out this band.
Looking like they escaped from a spread in Nylon Guys magazine and hailing straight outta Brooklyn, The Drums were initially formed as a two person band comprised of lead singer Jonathan Pierce and guitarist Jacob Graham. A year later, the Drums have now expanded into a four person band often compared to the Beach Boys (I have no idea how this happened), Morrisey and The Smiths. While comparing this band to just about any punk band from the eighties or seventies is easy, the Drums’ sound is a little bit harder to pin down. Reminiscent of the eighties and seventies California sun-pop, the songs exhibit a strange but interesting dichotomy of blending sad, wistful lyrics with peppy beats.
Their lead single (and subsequent brilliant video that features the band running and singing–found below) “Let’s Go Surfing” at face value could be taken what for it really is, but as Jonathan explains the song is actually about Obama becoming president. “That song technically–we wrote in on inauguration day, when Obama was coming into office, and it’s more a song about being carefree and being let out of prison and just running wild,” Jonathan explained in an interview to Gig Wise. “Unabashed freedom, you know? It felt like all of America was being let out of jail on that day, so it was a spur of the moment thing. I think living in Florida, near the beach, surfing was in our minds subconsciously. It’s a strange thing how that song came together. If you listen to the second verse it’s all about Obama moving into the White House. We’re not a political band at all, and we’re not really political at all as people, but it was really hard to not be moved by what was happening at the time.”
In my opinion, what makes this band so exciting, and what sets them apart from other bands out currently, is that they have a fiercly independent yet retro style about them both in music and fashion and that they seem to really care about creating new and interesting music. Jonathan’s voice almost has a straight of the eighties post-punk edge to it and their shows are unbelievably energetic. While, sure, tons of up-and-coming indie bands are creating brilliant music, how many of them can you actually pick out immediately just by hearing them on the radio? It’s in this aspect that the Drums are a band to watch. Add that with what appears to be four humble, likeable guys who aren’t pretentious about their “art” or concerned with being “ironic” and they make for a very enjoyable, exciting band.
A few videos including one interview, one live performance of “Best Friend” and the brilliant video of “Let’s Go Surfing” can be found below.
Not too weird and perfectly simple, I love this video for the fact that it puts the band at the center with a bit of kitsch in the form of running.
And here’s a performance of “Best Friend” to give you an idea of what the band is like live. Personally, I love how uninhibited it is and how Jacob and Jonathan bring so much to it with the dancing.