The Drums Tells Us About “Encyclopedia” & Why They Are Unapologetic And Unashamed
The Drums are back! After taking a three year break, Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham return with a new album, Encyclopedia . The album may not be the same upbeat surf pop that gained them success but that is okay with them. Jonny and Jacob told us they couldn’t continue making the same tunes and they would rather be “ridiculous and bizarre than incredibly likeable and easy on the ears.” Read our interview for details on the new album, Jacob’s past with Epcot and Jonny’s love for Björk:
by: Shannon Kurlander
What have you both been up to since Portamento?
Jacob Graham: At the time when Portamento came out it had been a year since our first album came out which was about a year after our first EP came out. It was kind of non-stop touring for a solid three years and I think we were just kind of really burnt out from doing that and needed to not be constantly moving around for a bit. We were just trying to live our lives for a bit and find apartments to live in…just kind of having a life. We both had other little projects going on. Doing that broadened our horizons a bit so when we did go back to this third Drums album we had a lot of new ideas to bring to it.
Jonny Pierce: We were trying to step away from the world we were living in, which was kind of crucial to the record. Sometimes when you’re so immersed in what you’re doing, which we were putting two records and an EP and travelling nonstop in three years, it’s really easy to lose focus. We knew we needed to step away a bit and live a little, not live it up, but live a little to gain new perspective. During the Portamento cycle we lost another member of our band and it was Jacob and I. It was really difficult. We just needed to re-access everything; A: do we even want to do this anymore and B: if we do, how do we approach this? Almost right away we realized to just approach it how we always do: just Jacob and I be the crazy people we are and do whatever we want. I wanted to make a Mars record and Jacob wanted to make a luscious synthesizer record…and what we came out with is a garagey sort of pop record that has luscious synthesizer woven in and out of it.
“Magic Mountain” is a clear shift from previous albums. Can we expect Encyclopedia to follow suit?
Jacob: I guess yes and no…the worst way to answer a question. There’s a lot of new stuff that we have never done before but it’s not a radical departure. I know “Magic Mountain” was a little jarring for a lot of our fans but I think it still fits into our universe.
Jonny: It’s really exciting just being Jacob and I…we’re kind of being unapologetic and unashamed. We’re really being ourselves and there will be some people who think this record is a little bit ridiculous but I would rather it be ridiculous and bizarre than incredibly likeable and easy on the ears. I think if we continued as we were we would have been digging our own graves. The tunes would have made us bored out of our minds.
Six Flags Magic Mountain is one of my favorite theme parks. What is your favorite amusement park ride?
Jacob: Well that’s easy. For about ten years I worked, essentially lived at, Epcot. So my favorite ride ever is Spaceship Earth, which is what’s inside the large geodesic sphere that you associate with Epcot.
Jonny: It’s a no brainer for me. My favorite amusement park is this place called The Lagoon, just outside of Salt Lake City, and they have a rollercoaster there that actually uses our song “Let’s Go Surfing” as the theme song for the ride. How could I love any other ride more, it’s so sweet.
Jonny, have you worked anywhere unusual like Epcot?
Jonny: My jobs were all very normal blue-collar. I worked in a sandwich shop and as a laundry boy in a hotel. My job just before The Drums was in a shoe shop putting shoes on people’s feet, a humbling experience that filled me with rage. I think without that I wouldn’t have wanted to work really hard in forming the band and making music.
How have friends and family reacted as you have gained more success over the years? What do they say when they turn on the TV and hear your song in a Starbucks commercial?
Jonny: It seems like moments that are important to Jacob and I are things that friends and family don’t really care about. The only time I ever hear any feedback is when we do something like a Starbucks commercial. I’m frankly not interested in what my family is excited about. You can really only think about yourself. If you’re not completely selfish when making art you’re letting yourself and your fans down. If you start caring about what people think it’s a very slippery slope.
Jonny, I read you grew up in a strict religious family and weren’t allowed to listen to certain music. What music was worth sneaking behind your parents?
Jonny: Jacob and I met out a shared loved for synthesizer pop music, a very small niche scene coming out of California in the ‘90s. That sort of progressed into me getting more interested in discovering a bigger world of music. I would listen to mainly Add N to (X) and I was a huge fan of Björk and her album Homogenic was a huge influence to me. It’s one of the records I had to throw into the garbage once every three months but I would go out and buy it again. It was just a situation where you decide to live for yourself or live for others and I made that decision early on in life.
Are you still living in Brooklyn? What is your favorite part about Brooklyn?
Jonny: Jacob is but I’m in Manhattan. Maybe I’ll move back. The only person I see in Brooklyn is Jacob so living in Brooklyn again would just make my commute to Jacobtown that much shorter.
Jonny: I love you Jacob.
Jacob: I love you too.
Johnny: It certainly isn’t for the hip crowd. There’s nothing that makes me want to vomit more.
“Money” is a personal favorite Drums song. If you were each given $10,000, we’ll be somewhat modest, what would you spend it on first?
Jonny: I’ll really want to give it our fans because a lot of them are poor and I want them to have money. I know what it’s like. Jacob and I both grew up super poor and we’re still relatively poor. When you grow up on government peanut butter you always have a soft spot for that blue-collar shaved head kid working at a factory.
Jacob: I better just agree… I was all like I want a million candy bars and then you said that.