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The Drums - The story of - The GROUND Magazine

The Drums – The story of

By On July 13, 2012 In Music, Print

Since their first single, “Let’s Go Surfing,” The Drums have proven that they have the captivating appeal to win over fans.


With their sincere song styling and ’80s inspired music, The Drums have accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. Now, after two albums and touring around the world, The Drums are starting to get the recognition they deserve.

Over time, music creation has evolved from instruments to computers and synthesizers. With popular genres like electro pop and dance taking over the airwaves, nobody would have guessed that a throwback ’80s rock band like The Drums would be such a rising force today. Since breaking out in 2009, The Drums have released two albums and have opened up for big name acts like Kings of Leon and Florence and the Machine. Now, after touring all over world, The Drums are proving that simplicity can still be successful if done right.

© The Drums

Friends since childhood, the founding members – singer Jonathan Pierce and guitarist Jacob Graham – first used their love of music to start the electro pop band, Goat Explosion. However, soon Pierce and Graham decided to part ways and Pierce renamed the band Elkland, while Graham went on to be in the pop band, Horse Shoes. While both bands went on to release albums – Elkland even got signed to Colombia Records – Pierce and Graham had both grown tired of the electronic music scene.

So, once again they decided to reunite, move to Brooklyn, New York, and recruit Connor Hanwick on drums and Adam Kessler on guitar. The goal was to create a different type of band; free of all the electronic elements they had been used to. The Drums was born.

Taking influences from ’80s British bands like the Wake, the Smiths, and New Order, the Drums released their Summertime! EP in 2009. Altogether, the EP was described as a collection of beach pop fantasies, songs that sounded like they were created from raw emotions. Their first released single, “Let’s Go Surfing,” was written as a response to the news of Barack Obama being elected as President. “Wake up, there’s a new kid in the town/ Honey, he’s moving into the big house/ Remember when I was so very hopeless/ Darling, he’s gonna make it all better.” The EP made a great impression in the United States with their song, “Down by the Water,” even being featured in an episode of the hit TV show, Gossip Girl.

© The Drums

However, their buzz in the United Kingdom was far greater, leading them to become one of the 15 musical acts featured in the BBC Sound of 2010. In June 2010, The Drums released their first self-titled album, selling 200,000 copies globally, and going Silver in the UK. The album itself was split between beach pop tunes like their EP, carrying over some of those songs onto the album, and mixing them with songs that delivered a straightforward expression of emotions. They transition from a nostalgic romantic ballad like “Down By The Water,” to the jaunty ode of “Best Friend,” where Pierce proclaims, “You are my best friend, but then you died.” Since they made a bigger impact in the UK, The Drums received more opportunities there, like appearing on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, being on the 2010 NME Awards Tour, and touring constantly across the UK to sold-out shows.

Keeping the momentum going, The Drums went into recording their second album right away. They released Portamento on September 5, 2011, just 14 months after releasing their first album. Embracing their ’80s British rock even more, Portamento was a departure from their previous work, infusing a more gothic element into their sound and lyrics. The intro track, “Book of Revelation,” sets up the album for discussions of religious quandaries and the fragility of life: “I’ve seen the world/ And there’s no heaven and there’s no hell/ And I believe/ That when we die, we die/ so let me love you tonight.” Even from their lead single, “Money,” it’s evident that The Drums had death on their minds a lot when recording: “Before I die I’d like to do something nice/ Take my hand and I’ll take it for a ride.”

The Drums – “Let’s Go Surfing”

Maybe Portamento is not about the band’s own fears of death, but about the future of the band itself. In such a short amount of time, The Drums have taken us from surfing to grasping onto what life we have left to enjoy. In that time as well, The Drums came close to their own demise, almost collapsing as a band after losing fellow band member, Adam Kessler. Still, they were able to hold it together and release their album. After all the years that Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham have spent in the music world, staying strong is key. Now that The Drums have recently played their first U.S. network television performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, it’s only a matter of time before they start making more music to keep this fire going.



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