Jonny Pierce of The Drums talks change, North America and Dolly Parton
Everything about the band is classically simple, from their music, to their
clean-cut American boy style—right down to their two-syllable name. A drum is immediate, visceral, and it suits them perfectly.
They made their first splash in 2010, with the reissue of their 2009 single “Let’s Go Surfing”. Since then, it’s been a story of quick success and further charting singles.
“We only do songs that we really love,” singer (and unique dancer) Jonny Pierce told the VO last week. “The fact that other people love them too is a humbling thing.”
Crossing the pond
Last year, The Drums were going through a “tough time,” apparently on the constant verge of dissolution. Now, “they’re okay,” having ultimately jumped over the infamous sophomore slump, strengthening their formerly UK-concentrated fanbase in the process.
With Portamento, Pierce and his merry men in tight trousers feel like they've finally captured their American audience.
“We're looking forward to touring North America probably more than anywhere else,” said Pierce, “just because it's exciting to play your hometown. And not a lot happened for us in North America with our debut album—it felt really imbalanced.”
“But then, we put out Portamento and it seems America really got into us.”
When asked why this may be, Pierce chalked it up to the “less European” influences of the band during the making of their latest record, which were both somewhat deliberate and “subconscious”—a little less British post-punk and a little more Stateside boy or girl group, à la the Shangri-Las.
Kitchen sink realism
The Drums of their self-titled debut sang about their “Best Friend” and “Skippin’ Town”, each lo-fi track like a tape recording of a youthful memory. When you consider that Pierce and the band’s other founding member, guitarist Jacob Graham, met as kids running around a summer camp, this makes sense.
On their second album, these Drums have grown up a bit, on a "Search for Heaven" and worrying about “Money”, but all with the same 1960’s vibe that made them magazine darlings in the first place.
Despite the growth, Pierce said they were careful not to change too much. This caution meant The Drums produced Portamento themselves, like they did their debut, even recording sometimes in Pierce’s kitchen. Maybe bathroom acoustics aren’t all they’re hyped up to be.
“We really like our band to be consistent, and we had that fear that working with somebody new would alter what we're doing too much,” he said. “The more you strip something down, the more potent it can become.”