Interview: The Drums

Just last year, you couldn’t turn a corner without being confronted with indie’s hottest entity, The Drums. The Brooklyn group was hailed as the coolest band in town, the band you have to listen to, the band with a plan and everything else in between. But drummer boys Jonathan, Jacob and Connor will have you know that all they really wanna do is be a really good pop band (and no, they don’t actually wanna go surfing). And they’ve made a pretty decent crack of it: their much-loved eponymous debut was jammed with all sorts of catchy pop goodness made in the mold of Orange Juice and The Smiths, that left us with such gems like ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ and ‘Best Friend’. It was only about time that the band made its way to our region for a poptastic gig and this little pow-wow with us.

Text Min Chen

Hello Drums. We understand you’ve undergone some pretty serious touring – how are you guys handling it?
Jonathan Right now, I feel like, as far as the shows go, we’re just like… getting by! We’ve been on the road for two years, so we’re pretty solid and just learning how to deal with it. None of us knew we were gonna be doing this now and so it’s been like two years of adjustment. And coming to a place like this is really cool and we never been here before, and it really helps being places we’ve never been before. Keeps things exciting.
Jacob I think the weather helps as well – It has such an effect on your mood. The last extensive tour we did was in the winter and it was just so cold…

And if it’s not the weather, it’s the incredible hype that surrounds the band. Does it ever get to you?
Jonathan It doesn’t get to us. I think the things that get to us are being on the road for months at a time and giving up a lot of normal life to be gone all the time, but I’m not complaining or anything; it’s just a big adjustment. But as far as press and what people say about us, you know, at first it’s kind of exciting, like, “Wow, people really love what we’re doing!” But there’s always the other side of that coin where people really hate when a band is hyped.

Did you feel you had to justify all that media attention?
Jonathan Well, we weren’t trying to save the world or anything grand; we were just trying to write simple songs, and the press just took it and ran with it. But we haven’t changed: we’re still writing songs in our bedroom and just doing what a band does. And now that things have settled down, I feel more like a band than this SENSATION. And it’s really nice to be a solid band playing shows and putting out records – those were our goals in the beginning and those are still our goals.

You bet. And we hear you’re just putting the finishing touches to your sophomore album. What’s different on this one?
Jonathan The main difference is that the first record was half-written before we met Connor and it was kind of weird how it was put together. It was just us doing it how we had to do it, so you know, I would play guitar and bass and Jacob would play guitar and then I would play synth and Connor would play guitar and certain things… But on the new record, we’ve written, recorded and put it together in a little bit more of a traditional way, maybe. Wouldn’t you say? At least comparing to the first album?
Jacob I suppose… I thought they were both done pretty similar!
Jonathan Okay, I guess they are!

Will it reflect a new mindset or musical shift though?
Jonathan Well, it does and it doesn’t. I think the first album had much more of an air of innocence and there were a lot of sad songs, but I think overall, people took on its optimistic vibe. But I don’t think that would be the case on the second album. I think there’s much more of a personal and serious tone, and there are songs that are danceable, but I think people will view us in a different way… I don’t know, or maybe they’ll still call us a surf rock band!

Ooh. Is that surfing song a heavy weight to carry sometimes?
Jonathan Well, it kind of sets a precedent before people actually meet us or talk with us or listen to our album. I mean, we have like 40 songs and one of them mentions surfing…
Jacob When you specifically single that one out apart from the other ones…
Jonathan Or you just don’t listen to the other ones!
Jacob Yeah, you can’t just look at a tiny little piece of any picture and feel like you’ve seen the whole picture.

So what’s the view of your first album in hindsight?
Jonathan I think like anything you do, there are things that you would change, like if we could go back in time, we probably wouldn’t put ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ on the album. You know, little things like that…
Jacob It’s not something I look back on and think I would do this or that differently. I think we’re pretty content how it all turned out and touring that record, it just all seemed to come together really naturally and it all fell into place.
Jonathan It’s definitely a time stamp in our lives and we view it in a fond, nostalgic sort of way. It already feels like 10 years old! Not too many regrets about that album, but maybe of that time.

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