Music Drummer boys Mixing wholesome harmonies with dark-hearted lyrics about sad summers and lost loves, The Drums offer indie-pop escapism in cynical times, by Nadine McBay
THE BEST ROCK, POP, JAZZ & FOLK
✽✽ Goldfrapp Alison and Will bring the glamtronica. 02 Academy, Glasgow, Fri 19 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Blitzen Trapper Portland folk rockers on Sub Pop. King Tuts, Glasgow, Sun 21 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Marnie Stern (pictured) NYC singer-guitarist – with a punk edge. Captains Rest, Glasgow, Mon 22 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Marc Almond Mr Soft Cell tours his solo album, Varieté. HMV Picture House, Edin, Tue 23 Nov; 02 ABC, Glasgow, Wed 24 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Versus Mash ups and face- offs from The Foundling Wheel, Miaoux Miaoux and more. Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Thu 25 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Matt Berry Mighty Boosh/Garth Marenghi star shows his musical side. Stereo, Glas, Thu 25 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ The National See Five Reasons, p 67. 02 Academy, Glas, Fri 26 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Sneaky Fest With Three Blind Wolves, Age of Consent (ex Shitdisco) and others. Various venues, Edin, Sat 27 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Jenny & Johnny See preview, page 63. Oran Mor, Glasgow, Sat 27 Nov; Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Tue 30 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ The Drums See left. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Vampire Weekend Sunny Afrobeat preppy-pop, with Ratatat, see preview, page 62. Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Sun 28 Nov. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ Black Dice and Growing Experimental Brooklyn electronica, and Washington drone/ambience. Stereo, Glas, Wed 1 Dec. (Rock & Pop) ✽✽ The Porch Song Anthology Wistful alt.country from Glasgow, to launch new single ‘Christmas is Cold’. Brel, Glasgow, Thu 2 Dec. (Rock & Pop) 18 Nov–2 Dec 2010 THE LIST 61
‘Pop music is important,’ says The Drums’ frontman Jonathan Pierce. ‘Escape is vital and that is what we try to offer.’ In times relentlessly described as ‘hard’, seemingly blithe songs such as whistle-along ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ and the lemon-zinging freshness of ‘I Need Fun In My Life’ are almost defiant calls to arms.
‘It’s talking about fun in the same way one could talk about drugs,’ says Pierce, his flyaway blond mop recalling 1980s teen movie villain Billy Karate Kid Zabka. ‘When you realise nothing’s really ever going to “save” you, you may as well take part in whatever gets you through the night.’
That attitude was in evidence at T in the Park this July. Even as Jay-Z took to the Main Stage, the Futures Tent swelled to capacity for the Brooklyn- based outfit’s mix of late 50s/early 60s American pop and UK post-punk’s introspection. Contrasting his band’s simple, chiming melodies with lyrics about lost love, sad summers and too soon dead friends, Pierce worked a James Dean-at-Borstal look in red jacket and blue jeans, zigzagging across the stage in a bizarre display of flouncing disinhibition. The results were compulsive, the response rapturous. Naturally, a band this apparently perfect, this confident, who had gone from playing to 200 punters at NYC’s Mercury Lounge to being championed as the new saviours of pop by the NME and the notoriously picky Pitchfork, would raise suspicions. But rather than a cynical svengali’s pet project, The Drums are the product of self-imposed limitations, vision and most crucially, years of experience. Pierce and reverb-loving guitarist Jacob Graham met as children at summer camp, bonding over The Smiths and Kraftwerk. They spent years in various different, mostly electronic bands, notably Pierce’s Elkland, a synth-pop outfit who supported Erasure in
2005, before reconnecting in 2008, trading the keyboards for guitars and setting to work on debut EP, ‘Summertime!’ ‘Being in lots of different bands from being very young gives you a lot of experience,’ says Graham. ‘But more important than learning what to do, it’s learning what not to do that is the key.’ In a diffuse musical terrain where genuine stars are as endangered as record sales, The Drums match substance with accessibility. It’s a tension much in evidence in new single ‘I Felt Stupid’, a lovesick Breakfast Club- meets-The Cure confection backed by Shangri-Las style ballad ‘Me And The Moon’. ‘We strive for simplicity in everything we do and so it’s easy for people to catch on to our songs after hearing them once,’ Graham continues. ‘That connection is thrilling.’
Pierce assures me that, like ‘Summertime!’ and the darker hearted debut album that followed it, album number two will be recorded produced independently, hinting that new material will be played on this UK tour. Their schedule currently gives the band a day off between their sold out Glasgow gig and their next show, giving the three-piece (guitarist Adam Kessler departed in September) time to explore the city that spawned many of their most beloved bands. ‘The Wake, Orange Juice, The Pastels and Altered Images are all favourites of ours,’ affirms Pierce.
As for the heavy tour schedule the band has had all year, Pierce shrugs it off. ‘You find ways to make it work, because you believe in it and you want to keep doing it. I never found much comfort in home, home has always felt depressing and full of death. The road is our home at this point.’ O2 Academy, Glasgow, Mon 29 Nov.
‘YOU MAY AS
WELL TAKE PART IN WHATEVER
GETS YOU THROUGH THE