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No more dreaming with The Drums

The Drums: Connor Hanwick, Jacob Graham, and Jonny Pierce.

MANILA, Philippines - If you’ve ever heard of The Drums, it’s probably because of Money. It’s the first single off their second, significantly more listened-to album, “Portamento” (2011). Plus, it is catchy as hell. When you see frontman Jonny Pierce live, you begin to understand how such a stupidly catchy song can exist. He is frenetic and infectious; each word that floats out of his mouth elicits a jerk of a shoulder, a twitch of a leg. Despite your best efforts, you mimic everything. It is a joy to watch, and of course, to dance along to.

The Drums is one of those rare bands that you truly enjoy watching even if you’ve never heard any of their songs. Now comprised of its two original members, Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham, they are set to headline Wanderland Festival 2014.

SUPREME: Let’s begin with your second LP, “Portamento.” It is much more personal than your previous releases. What made you decide to go in that direction?

JONNY PIERCE: Life is short. There’s a saying, “Put the pedal to the metal.” We wanted to say something more than what we were saying.

What drove me to writing that was the whirlwind experience after the first album and EP came out. From being penniless musicians living in the middle of nowhere — Florida — to playing world tours in front of a thousand kids. It was a lot to take. After the dust settled, I don’t think we necessarily liked where we were and who we were, and “Portamento” was a reaction to that. We definitely came out more grounded, serious, depressed, so the second album was darker and more introspective.

It’s been a few years since the release of “Portamento” and you just finished recording a new album. What has it been like?

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The process was long. After Jacob and I formed The Drums, we thought, “We have to assemble a band,” since people were asking us to play shows. We (with former members Adam Kessler and Connor Hanwick) released that first EP (“Summertime!”) five years ago. It went well for a while, but now it’s just the two of us again, which is the most amazing thing. We are able to be as crazy as we are. We are taking our time, and we got some help for mixing. I’m very excited about the album. It’s much darker and much more majestic than anything we’ve ever made. I think our fans are going to be pleased.

It’s based on exactly how you feel. No more dreaming; it’s all based on reality.

Do you listen to any other music when you’re making an album?

I think Jacob does, a little bit. I don’t listen to music, ever. I’m afraid that I’ll hear something and get jealous because I didn’t come up with it, or I’m afraid that I’ll be influenced by something I don’t want to be influenced by. But that’s how we started: not listening, just doing our own thing. I look for good conversation more than I listen to music.

Does it surprise you to know you have fans in Asia?

It’s shocking for us. It’s shocking that we have fans, period. On our first Asian tour, we thought, “This really feels like we’re a real band, finally.” We’ve never been to the Philippines, but we’ve been to Asia a couple of times, and every time we go, it shocks us.

I think from the fans, especially in places like Asia and the Philippines, we feel the love all the way in New York. We sense their loyalty, and we get so many messages and letters. It’s hard to comprehend, but we’re really grateful.

You met Jacob at Bible Camp when you were young boys. What was it like growing up in a religious environment?

It sucked. (Laughs) Oh, God. I shouldn’t be laughing because it was awful. I don’t even visit those times in my memories. It was really dark and heavy, but it’s good for songwriting. It fueled my creativity, but it was a dark childhood, oppressive and abusive. Nobody really knows what happens, but mystery often comes through struggle. What’s good is that I learned to be strong and fight back, and that it’s important to be yourself.

So, I’m guessing you’re not religious anymore.

I am the opposite of religious. The only thing I worship and adore is nature itself. There is something beautiful and exciting and spiritual about going back to nature. I’m pretty sure I lose a thousand fans whenever I say these things, but life is short. I’d rather say something true than something comforting.

Do you have any solo projects in the works?

I just finished my solo record, but at the last minute, I decided not to release it. I can always put out a solo album, but I felt like it was our responsibility to release a new Drums album sooner. We realized that we were actual role models to all these kids. We get so many powerful and touching letters from people who look up to us. There are probably a lot of people who look down on us, but… I’m sure I could still be a role model with a solo album, but here was a much greater urgency for an album by The Drums.

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