Looking Forward, And Back, With The Drums’ Jonny Pierce Before They Perform FYF

“I’m just rolling with it, ” Jonny Pierce told me over the phone, making his way through the country on a mini tour before finishing up with FYF this weekend. He laughed. As the co-founding member of indie rock group, The Drums, Jonny’s made a name for himself and his band as exactly that—guys who’ve been rolling with it ever since their debut album. How’d the Drums start? “I grew up in upstate New York, about an hour south of Canada. When I was 18, I jumped on a Greyhound bus—just like in the movies—and went to Manhattan. I lucked out the night I arrived; I met someone that I would be in a relationship that very much influenced me for 3 years, and since then I’ve just been on a roller coaster ride, in so many ways.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean, we’re working on our fourth record right now—I didn’t even think we’d make it to the second!”

Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham, the founding members who met as young boys at bible camp, are in the process of writing a follow-up record to three critically lauded albums that featured different line-ups for the group. Now, as the band transitions into a new future for themselves, with a performance at FYF, we look back at the qualities that built the band’s ability to keep on rolling.

ON THE BROOKLYN YEARS:  When I think about Brooklyn, I think about this song I wrote, called, “I Need Fun in My Life”. I don’t know why that’s the first thing that comes to mind, I’ve certainly had more colorful songs that I’ve written or recorded while living in Brooklyn. That one’s off the first album. We wrote and recorded the whole thing in my bedroom, and while we were almost done with it, we had 11 songs, and we wanted 12, so I kind of pulled that one out of thin air. I was already in b-sides mode, so it was in a more weird, experimental place than 

WHY BANDS ARE LIKE MARRIAGES: When you’re in a band, and especially You have lunch and dinner, and you have interviews and soundcheck together, you walk off-stage together. It’s actually more intense than a marriage, because more typical marriages and unions have space, like you spend your day apart, go to bed, start over. With a band, it’s just like four dudes non-stop. 

BEST BREAK-UP SONG: “Black Lake” off Bjork’s new album. Her latest record is entirely a break up record, actually. It’s her getting back to the rawness of her earlier albums, and really opening up. So there’s this epic 10 minute song on the album, and it’s about plummeting, like really losing your shit after an intense emotional experience. But at the end of the song, there’s sliver of hope that she expresses, that actually helps to think about grieving as a process. The lyrics go:“Do not remove my pain, it’s my only chance to heal”. 

A SONG FOR BARACK OBAMA:“Let’s Go Surfing” is actually a song I wrote on the day Obama wa elected in 2008. And the song is all about him, like sort-of secretly coded. The second verse says, ‘There’s a new kid in town/he’s moving into the big house’—I wrote it back when I was pretty gaga over Obama. It’s the only song I’ve ever written about things outside of my personal experience. Usually my songs are very self-obsessed, because I’m constantly looking inward all the time, like, examining the inner workings of my heart, and soul. That’s the only song I’ve written that’s politically inclined, so it’s kind of strange and funny. 

ON THEIR CHANGING FANBASE: When we came out, it was trendy to be doing what we were doing. When “Let’s Go Surfing” came out, we got a bunch of fans who were interested in this type of sound that we’ve since progressed from. Everything else we’ve done has been more somber and serious. They’re not kids waiting for the funny song, they’re singing every year from beginning to end, and it’s really encouraging, and it’s just a testament to being honest, and looking within instead of looking out. instead of worrying of what else is going on—that’s why I left Brooklyn, because I didn’t want to be influenced by what was hip and cool, and I went to Florida of all places, and I got peace of mind from allowing myself to be crazy.


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