It's not uncommon for musicians to change course during their careers. Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham, childhood friends, were in separate bands (Pierce in Elkland and Goat Explosion - a great name - and Graham with Horse Shoes) but they grew tired of electronic music.
The Drums formed in Brooklyn (which had surprisingly turned into a music hot spot) and switched the emphasis from synthesizers to guitars - ones with a particular sound quality. "If reverb didn't exist we wouldn't have bothered trying to start a band," said Graham.
In '08, the pair recruited Connor Hanwick and former Elkland member Adam Kessler.
The Drums earned U.K. praise the following year. Among the accolades, they were named 'Best Hope for 2010' in Pitchfork's '09 Readers' Poll. The band also appeared on the '10 version of the NME Awards Tour prior to releasing their self-titled debut.
Kessler left in '10. Rather than simply replacing him, the band expanded to a five-piece in adding drummer Chris Stein and guitarist Myles Matheny. Stein's arrival allowed former drummer Hanwick to move to keyboards. But Stein didn't last long, less than a year, with Danny Lee Allen stepping in.
After the '12 Laneway Festival, Hanwick left to tour with his girlfriend's band, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.
The DIY mentality continued on sophomore set "Portamento" (a 17th century Italian term that denotes a slide between two pitches which was a common feature on early analog synthesizers) with many tracks spontaneously laid down in Pierce's kitchen. "It dictates the travel time from one note to another, and we have always thought it was a beautiful word," said Pierce. "It seems to come in to play with how we have transitioned in the last year, losing a guitarist, reforming the band, our personal lives, and the actual sound of the album travelling from one thing to the next."
"I think our band is kind of fragile and probably on the verge of breaking up pretty constantly and I say that seriously and jokingly at the same time," added Graham.
The album contained the single, "Money."
2010 The Drums
The Drums have been called a power pop band but they are clearly more pop than power. The synthesizers and the reverb guitars make them reminiscent of 80's Wave.
"We only write about two feelings: one is the first day of summer when you and all of your friends are standing on the edge of a cliff watching the sun set and being overcome with all of your hopes and dreams at once," reads a band statement. "The other is when you're walking alone in the rain and realize you will be alone forever." That turns out to be a pretty accurate description of "The Drums."
"Let's Go Surfing," could be (but isn't) an updated cover of a novelty Jan & Dean tune. There's a Beach Boys turn, both vocally and in the arrangement, on "The Future." And "We Tried" leans toward a minor key Mersey sound.
But The Drums' bouncy melodic pop prevails. "Best Friend" and "I Need Fun In My Life" are polished indie Rock dance tracks. "Book Of Stories," "Forever And Ever Amen" and "Skippin' Town" are in the same vein with the synthesizers and guitars playing tight rhythmical riffs to drive home the beat.
Some bands produce an album by recording eleven variations of the same song. The Drums don't do that on "Portamento.' Rather, they take their stock arrangement, a bright, percussive pop sound that nearly seems transparent, and add plaintive vocals, so the songs roll into each other without really making an individual impression. The first go-around was fun but this is just redundant.