The Drums Work Purple




Everything about the three-piece indie-pop band The Drums suggests downtown cool, so it was a little surreal bumping into them backstage (the only place that offered a break from nearly-100-degree temperatures) at last weekend’s Bonnaroo music festival. Clad in sneakers, dark denim and three variations of ratty T-shirts, singer Jonathan Pierce, drummer Connor Hanwick and guitarist Jacob Graham sat at a bleacher on a pile of sand with us to chat about their upcoming album.

CONNOR HANWICK: Do you think we look cool?

RANDI BERGMAN: You look very cool.

HANWICK: Seriously?

BERGMAN: You [to Jonathan Pierce] kind of have this, like, Rocky Horror Picture Show look going on, but in a really good way.

JONATHAN PIERCE: I’ve never seen the movie.

HANWICK: You look like Frankenstein with your hair like that!

BERGMAN: You could go for many, many looks with that hair. So, is this your first Bonnaroo?


BERGMAN: And how do you find it so far?

HANWICK: Honestly, so far I mean I think it’s more pleasant than a lot of other festivals. There’s something relaxed about it.

JACOB GRAHAM: It does have a nice vibe about it.

PIERCE: Even just doing the press, you don’t feel quite so yanked around.

HANWICK: There’s a good lineup too. There’s bands I really want to see. We’re only here for today, but I will definitely go see Twin Shadow, I will definitely go see Deerhunter, I will definitely go see Dãm-Funk.

BERGMAN: Twin Shadow and Sleigh Bells are competing; it’s kind of hard.

PIERCE: Twin Shadow!

GRAHAM: Twin Shadow’s got the songs!

BERGMAN:  Tell us a little bit about what’s going on with your new album.

PIERCE: We just finished it a few weeks ago. In September, we’re going to hopefully release it. And it’s exciting, because it’s a slight departure from the last album, but not really. It’s just pop songs, really simplistic, as classic-sounding as we can get them, sort of pop songs. But the whole thing’s a little darker and a little bit more serious. The first record dealt with ideas that were a little more, maybe like, overly romantic and dramatic, and this is much more just real life, how we’re living, things that happen now. So, it’s more personal to us.

BERGMAN: How do you guys work on a process level? Do you have everything done and then you go into record, or is it kind of like a work in progress?

PIERCE: It’s the opposite of that.

HANWICK: Yeah, it’s the opposite of that. We usually go in, nothing’s pre-written. We don’t sit down and pre-write stuff, really. Nothing that interesting. And if you know anything about our first record, it’s kind of along the same lines. We recorded it at Johnny’s house, in his kitchen. We knew we wanted to make a second record. Part of the point of recording in our houses or whatever is for the sake of, like, part of it is like not putting restraints on yourself. Like, “Okay, we paid for six hours, let’s hurry up.” So, it’s kind of like, we live within ten blocks of each other, so John would start something, call me up, I’d just walk over. Jacob lives two blocks away from that, whatever, you know?

BERGMAN: Figure it out. That’s awesome. And how long are you guys on tour for?

PIERCE: We’ve kind of been on tour since the band started three years ago. We have little breaks here and there, but it’s been a pretty nonstop thing. And any break we did have, we were making the second record, so it’s all kind of a blur now. It looks like we’ll just continue. We have kind of a couple weeks off, but that time, I’m sure, will be spent not really being off. We’ve learned to not get excited about our breaks. [laughs] It always turns out not being a break.

BERGMAN: When was the last actual break you guys had?

HANWICK: The last actual break we had was when we recorded the record, so, again you can’t really consider that a break. The last actual break we had was probably…

PIERCE: We got stuck in Amsterdam for 10 days and we weren’t allowed to move, but that was awful!

BERGMAN: That was awful? Why?

PIERCE: Well, we had just ended a two-month tour and then after 10 days that we got stuck there, we ended up flying home into Christmas on New York at 5:00 p.m. I said that backwards. We just wanted to be home.

BERGMAN: If you guys had to describe the new album in five words or less, what would you say?

GRAHAM: Magical. Just kidding.

HANWICK: Can I do it in four words? Consistent with the last record.

PIERCE: Mine’s a little more free-form. I was going to say like: Playful but with a dark…

HANWICK: With an edge!

PIERCE: Playful but with an edge.

BERGMAN: You can hyphenate words, that’s okay.

HANWICK: Playful but crazy!

PIERCE: Happy. Purple.

HANWICK: It is kind of purple.