Brooklyn four piece, The Drums are gaining attention faster than we can keep up with! Our writer Joe Paolucci caught up with the drummer of The Drums (try saying that 10 times fast!), Connor Hanwick at Brooklyn Bowl to find out what this buzz band is all about.
So you guys started out playing CMJ last year, right?
No, no. We started out at Popfest. We did our first show at Popfest at the Cake Shop.
As far as attention goes, what has that been like?
The honest truth is that we played Popfest and we played the basement party at Popfest. It’s been a snowball.
The band is great live, you put on a great show.
Thanks! The whole thing has just gotten out of control. People have been really receptive and we’re really grateful. Here in New York and more so in the UK, we’re like Top 40 radio. It’s Jay-Z, The Killers and us.
‘Let’s Go Surfing’ is a great song. You are kind of like New Order meets the Beach Boys. That’s a great description of that song.
We don’t actually surf ourselves, but we like the whole culture, that whole thing.
I do too. We were actually going to ask you, where do you surf in Brooklyn?
Not to get heavy but ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ was written about, well like, we have two songs…. like ‘Let’s Go Surfing,’ and we have a song that’s coming out on the full length called ‘The New World,’ solely based on Obama. Like ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ was just a reaction towards the whole idea of being free I mean the past 8 years have been kind of a mess and we kind of realized that some new guy was coming into power. It’s just like a total liberation. That’s what we felt like, we felt like ‘I want to go surfing.’
We’re you in Elkland too?
I wasn’t in Elkland, no. I met the guys Adam, one of the guitar players and Jon. I wasn’t in Elkland, Adam and Jon were in Elkland together.
Jon was the singer and Adam was the guitar player, right?
Yea, the other guitarist Jacob was in a band called Goat Explosion with Jon several years back. They were an electronic band.
Where are you guys from originally?
Ah, from all over. I’m from here (Brooklyn). Jon is from upstate, Adam is from the same town and Jacob is from Ohio.
So you’re the only one from around here?
Well yea, but we all moved to Florida to write the record.
Where about in Florida?
Right outside of Orlando. Why Kissimmee?
A good friend of mine gave us the house.
That’s pretty sweet. Elkland was kind of pop-punky weren’t they?
They were sort of pop-punky but Elkland was just a good new age band. I don’t think they were really pop-punk. Their label Columbia was full of shit. They don’t know how to handle their bands. It’s old people, you know?
How did you guys meet?
Jon and Jacob were best friends since they were like eleven. They met at like a Christian Bible camp. Jon and Adam met, well they’re from the same town and met right before Elkland started. John and I used to DJ when I was like 17, 18…
How old are you now?
22. I used to DJ at a lot of clubs that Jon would go to and we used to hang out there all the time.
Did you DJ at the Annex and all?
Are you guys sad about the closing? What do you think about that?
The Annex has done great things for us. I think they had a great venue. If you’re a shitty band and play the Annex, it’s like whatever, but we think the Annex was good venue for some bands. We played there with the Bravery and they were amazing. (gesture) Can you get that motion on tape? (laughs)
How is your debut album coming along?
The debut is about finished. We have 2 songs left. We have about 12 songs written for the full length and 2 songs left to write. We already have them basically down. We have vocals left to do. They’re essentially done. The full length is essentially done and we’re looking towards the next one.
Really? That’s crazy!
We’re very specific about what we want aesthetically, soundwise. We’re pretty close to having the full length done.
How hard is it to create what you do in the studio, onstage? It’s pretty apparent because you’re good live.
It’s weird because none of us our actually musicians. Every band I’ve been in has just been drum machine, weird obscure shit. The other guys, same thing. This is the first time Jacob has ever played guitar. Adam is sort of the same. We’re not musicians you know? We’re songwriters. We’re all sort of like synth enthusiasts. We all grew up on Kraftwerk, New Order. Those bands. Factory records were a big influence on us, obviously, but more of the band’s like Stockholm Monsters. All four of us separately went through a serious Joy Division stage.
I love Joy Division.
Yea, like how can you not?! The band that inspired us to make this sound is a band called The Wake. They were like a really obscure factory band and between them and a band called Field Mice, they were on a label called Sour Records from ’88 to ’92. They released a 100 releases and then kind of fizzled out.
How did the band come together?
Well Jon and Adam became friends because they were from the same town, so then they played in Elkland together. Jon’s been in New York for a couple of years now. I grew up here so I’ve been DJ’ing around since I was 16. The Drums actually started as a fictional band. We all had a blog called the Neo-Violent Boy’s Club. This band had a song called ‘Neo-Violent’ so we started this blog, full of our ideas and we started this fictional band called The Drums. Jon drew up a fictional band. We kind of made it up, we promoted it as the greatest band in the world. It was all photos, image based. So then Jon moved down to Florida to help Jacob on the record and they were like ‘Well let’s call it The Drums!’ Jon called me up, called Adam, like ‘What do you guys think of, you know, The Drums?’ We heard a few songs and signed on right away.
What were the songs?
I heard ‘Me and the Moon,’ which will be on the full length and ‘Let’s Go Surfing.’ I was DJ’ing at the time and I was playing a lot of those songs. We have a song called ‘Best Friend’ we have a remix that me and Jacob made. I was playing it non stop whenever I DJ’ed. People were really receptive and it kind of went from that.
Who are your influences?
A lot of people give us comparisions to New Order and Joy Division. We’re really more inspired by the Shangrilas, The Angles.
No Beach Boys?
No the Beach Boys too. The Beach Boys have this album with 13 songs that they just wrote about being in cars. That’s really inspiring to us. A guy named Alexander Rovadnick, and we like timeless classic Americana. I like the Beach Boys, The Zombies, Shangrilas, a lot of old doo wop girl groups.
I love the music video for ‘Let’s Go Surfing.’
We have another video coming out very soon called ‘Down by the Water,’ and we’re totally ripping off frame for frame a video by the Shangrilas. They’re like 4 girls from Queens that just made amazing song and we’re totally obsessed with them. One of the girls from that group sells show now. So we went up and gave her a copy of the EP.
Where does she sell shoes?
Like 82nd Street at a really random store (laughs). Our main influences are The Zombies, The Shangrilas, The Ronettes and Timelife Magazine.
Before it collapsed?
Well yea, we’re really image based.
My old photo teacher collected those images and they’re amazing. Did you help with the rest of the album songwriting?
I mean like, as far as I’m concerned, the drum parts are very simple, all the parts are. The whole thing is we want to do everything we want to do and confine them into three minutes.
It’s like a pop album.
I think there’s this whole Williamsburg thing going on right now and that’s great but we’re really not part of that whole thing.
You guys kind of popped out of nowhere, kind of like Grizzly Bear.
Grizzly Bear is cool. They’re good friends of ours. I love Grizzly Bear.
John takes on sort of a Morrissey persona when he hits the stage, he even does the whips.
Honestly, our influences, we really don’t try and hide them. I think everybody like you and I went through a serious Smiths phase. Our band is formed based off a lot of the same bands. If John has something that seems Morrissey-esque, it’s very sincere.
What’s your favorite song to play live?
My favorite song to play is probably the song ‘I Felt Stupid,’ but there’s a song coming up on the full length called ‘The New World.’ We’re looking to get booked for the Olympics for the opening ceremony with the song. The lyrics are comprised completely of Barak Obama’s inauguration speech. It doesn’t sound cheesy or anything and it’s probably my favorite song on the album.
Are you guys traveling outside of New York City and Brooklyn right now?
We’re going to London on the 14th and then have two shows here at the Mercury Lounge and then we go to Iceland for the Airways Festival and back to London and then L.A. and back to New York. By then the full length will be out and we’ll be all over.
A lot of comments on Youtube ask this question….Why are you guys so skinny?
Well none of us eat ever. I actually read a comment on Brooklyn Vegan that said we’re all actors who had to audition for this band. To me it’s hilarious because it’s like a big studio production. We produced the whole album ourselves in our bedroom, so if people want to think we’re actors or whatever, that’s fine. It’s sort of following. Honestly we’re just a couple of good looking kids who are playing music that we want to play.
I like it! What bands are you into?
There’s a band from Florida who’s playing in New York called Surfer Blood, they’re really amazing. Other than that, a lot of Swedish bands, a band called the Tough Lions, Air France. There’s a band we hate called The Bravery (laughs). No we just had this thing in NME which is just us talking a bunch of shit about The Bravery. It’s kind of embarrassing. We’re all still huge fans of The Strokes, I’m really looking forward to their new record. I think those guys write great pop songs. The band Chairlift, The Embassy, The Legends. We’re into Camera Obscura, Glass Vegas. We all went through that New Order/Joy Division phase a long time ago, even though we get those comparisons.
Check out more of The Drums on their MYSPACE.