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Video of the Moment #714: The Drums

 
By on Friday, 17th February 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

The Drums always deliver with great artsy videos. Their new one for their single ‘Days’ (out the 27th of February) is no exception. Fingers crossed I can sneak a peek of these chaps at SXSW next month.

The trio has a three-date mini tour starting in a little over a week; they’ll be stopping in Liverpool, London and Oxford. Also, Martin interviewed Jacob and Jonny at Split Festival last year; read the transcript here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuC1bCoH2TY[/youtube]

 

The Drums / February 2012 English Tour

 
By on Thursday, 1st December 2011 at 9:00 am
 

The Drums have announced several live dates in England for February 2012. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Friday the 2nd of February) at 9 AM. I’m sceptical these are the only dates they will do in the UK, so keep an eye on TGTF, we’ll be sure to post more dates as we have them.

Sunday 26th February 2012 – Liverpool Academy 2
Monday 27th February 2012 – London Roundhouse
Tuesday 28th February 2012 – Oxford Academy

 

MP3 of the Day #430: The Drums

 
By on Tuesday, 1st November 2011 at 10:00 am
 

The Drums‘ new single ‘How It Ended’ (featured last month as a Video of the Moment here) has been remixed by Summer Camp‘s Jeremy Warmsley. The result? Very different from the original and I imagine very polarising. Listen to and download it below.

 

Video of the Moment #600: The Drums

 
By on Friday, 14th October 2011 at 6:00 pm
 

The new video for ‘How It Ended’ by the Drums is a visual, fabric-overlaid love letter to the city that has kept them on their toes: London. Director Patrick Roberts describes it like this:

For Jonny, this is a very personal song. We wanted to convey a tone of recollection, memory, and longing. While the lyrical content could refer to a person, we wanted to play with the idea that it could also refer to a place. We chose to incorporate figures that were ghostly, painterly, and saturated in color. We wanted a video that retained a sense of human touch. Something visceral and intimate.

Sniffle.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3Fi8kDGyo0[/youtube]

 

Split Festival 2011 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 3rd October 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Each festival is defined by its terroir: the land on which it takes place that gives it its atmosphere and reason for being. Where would Glastonbury be without its mythical rumours of ley lines and King Arthur, for instance? At first glance, the city centre of Sunderland wouldn’t be considered prime real estate by festival goers. But Split Festival have found a very accommodating venue in Ashbrooke Sports Club, a cricket and rugby venue with a proud tradition of sport, and a rather fine clubhouse, which is given over for a weekend a year to all manner of musical, comedic and gourmet endeavours. Some of the rugby team even double up as security.

Inevitably a festival on a tiny scale, there’s one large tent, a ‘fringe’ tent, and a food tent, laden with all sorts of edible goodies. The clubhouse is off-limits for regular punters, being reserved for staff, performers and press – and the regular sporting participants and their families, who continue to absorb their rugby league and Premiership football in the bar, even as the racket emanates from the tent below, whilst many a music fan’s Adidas wreak their havoc on the previously hallowed cricket outfield.

Sunderland clearly deserves its own festival; even though there are big national and international names on the bill, the roll-call of local talent is rather impressive, with Saturday’s Vinyl Jacket, B>E>A>K, Beth Jeans Houghton and Little Comets holding up the North-East corner. Beth Orton played a superb, brave solo set in the fringe tent, proving that even shorn of instrumentation, her songs still hold the power to captivate. The Rifles somehow manage to sound like an indie Madness, which is no bad thing when you get your head round it.

The Mystery Jets’ epic, thoughtful set is well-received, Blaine Harrison managing to deliver plenty of excitement despite being sat down throughout the set. The Drums bring a touch of flouncy transatlantic glamour to the affair – sticking to their new material, the set is tense, sparsely arranged, aloof. Something of an acquired taste, and not the most likely choice to bring a crowd to an excited climax on the end of day one, but certainly a class act. (Further, I got a chance to chat with them; you can read my interview with them here.)

On Sunday (day two), Hyde and Beast continue their meteoric ascent with a note-perfect rendition of the best bits of recent album ‘Slow Down’ (review here). Unsurprisingly popular, with the sprinkling of Futureheads in the line-up, the crowd give a justified warm welcome to the downtempo, subtle psychedelia. The only festival I can remember that actually runs ahead of time, Ganglians are off almost as soon as they are supposed to have begun, looking nonplussed about the whole affair.
Dinosaur Pile-Up’s stripped-down, Ash-on-steroids set is slightly incongruous in the late summer sunshine, and there’s a feeling of killing time until the utterly wonderful Frankie and the Heartstrings take the stage.

Arguably the biggest band in Sunderland at present, a truly deserved accolade, practically every song sounds like a hit single, with plenty of that jerky, assertive rhythm that distinguishes a Sunderland band. Frankie himself is a classic frontman, throwing shapes with abandon, the crowd enthralled. An apparently unplanned power cut in the last song couldn’t have been better timed, Frankie whipping the audience into a frenzied chant of “Sunderland!” in the darkness, until persuaded to leave the stage minutes later by a bouncer who himself couldn’t help but hold his fist aloft, proud as punch. Every festival has its ecstatic moment which sums up all that is special about the weekend. This was Split’s.

After such a strong set, the Charlatans had a tough job, and they sort of got away with it by dint of being a professional, well-rehearsed unit, with a popular body of work behind them. Great for fans, but missing something of the connection of the previous act. And after all that, it’s a short hop home. Festivals in cities are something of a rarity, but there’s something to be said for good transport links, and being in bed in time for getting up for work on Monday morning. On this showing, Split 2012 should be an unmissable event.

 

Interview: Jacob Graham and Jonathan Pierce of the Drums at Split Festival

 
By on Thursday, 29th September 2011 at 11:00 am
 

TGTF caught up with Jonny and Jacob from the Drums over a Sobieski and Sprite at the Split Festival in Sunderland earlier this month. A highly appropriate name, Split, as when another member of the band appeared at the door, he was swiftly shooed away. Clearly the band has two core members, and dare I say a revolving door policy for the rest; Jacob admits split rumours have plagued the band from the beginning. The duo have plenty to talk about: from being a dedicated synth fan in the grunge era, through lazy musical comparisons… to apiphobia?

Cheers, and welcome to Sunderland. How have the UK festivals treated you this summer?

Jacob: We were a little alarmed by the bees everywhere at Bestival – but we’re both from the country so we’re used to that.
Jonny: At UK festivals, everyone just wants to party with their friends. At US festivals, everyone just goes to see the bands they like and stays in hotels. Camping is very much a UK thing.

On to the new album, ‘Portamento’ (review here). The lyrical themes sound very much like one man’s opinions.
Jon: I write the lyrics, then we get together to write the music. Almost every song that we’ve ever released has been about the same person; we’re obsessive people in this band. [I note an exchange of not exactly cordial glances between the two at this point….unrequited love maybe?]

The themes on the new album change from very much being in control of a relationship to self-doubt and needing a doctor. There’s certainly some raw emotion on display.
Jon: I don’t see it as therapy. Decided the only option was to write an honest album, after all the things we’ve been through in the last year and a half: an album based on reality. There’s some whimsical aspects of the last album that I don’t believe in any more. We’re suckers for heartbreak, it’s the only thing that touches the two of us.

There’s a nice moment in the record where it breaks into a choral synth piece. It reminds me very much of Tomita. Is this a hint of a new direction?
Jacob: It’s interesting and wonderful that you bring up Tomita; people here who talk about us using synthesisers say the craziest things like Searching For Heaven sounds like New Order, which to me is totally absurd, such a limited frame of reference. I listen to a lot of Tomita, Jean Michel Jarre, and Wendy Carlos, that’s what we’re interested in as far as synths go. We specfically hunt down vintage synthesisers with a lot of fervour – that’s actually how we met each other, we were obsessed with old synths, around the age of 11 or 12, we were collecting as much old analogue gear as we could!
Jon: Do you want to hear the song that was playing when Jacob and I met each other? [A Macbook appears, playing ‘The Electric Joy Toy Company’ by Joy Electric: think Nintendo soundtrack with reverby, childlike vocals.] This was our favourite band for 10 years. Everyone else picked on me for listening to it. We were shipped to the same summer camp, and he came over and said, “who’s playing this?” I thought he was gonna make fun of me, but he was like, “it’s my favourite band!” I said, “really? Then look at this!” I pulled out a Joy Electric t-shirt, he asked if he could touch it, I said sure you can touch it, and we became pen pals. We were the last to get email.
Jacob: It was very strange for us growing up in the middle of America, being 12 years old, right when grunge music was at its height. Nirvana was the rage, and we were listening to this [Joy Electric]. It was not cool. It’s still not cool! [laughs]

It sounds like a toy sound. In fact, you seem to make guitars and drums sound like this, the opposite of Nirvana, when they turn everything up to 11.
Jacob: It’s always one note at a time – we never knew how to play guitars, we can’t play any chords or anything, so when we played them we knew how to sequence notes on a sequencer, so it’s the same mentality on a guitar.
Jon: We grew up on monosynths so we tend to just play one note at a time – like a mono guitar.
Jacob: The night we met, Jonny wrote down his address for me, and signed it Electric Till Death! It wasn’t a joke to us, we were like, Yeah! Synthesisers! As much as we’ve used guitars over the last couple of years we’re over that too, it’s all just one big blur. I think that’s why we used synths again on ‘Portamento’.
Jon: It’s like going back to a past lover: it’s comfortable, but kind of boring.
Jacob: [indignant] It’s not like that for me!

I want to pass on a complaint from a friend of mine. He wanted to hear ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ at Bestival, and apparently you didn’t play it. Is that deliberate?
Jacob: [sarcastically] We just forgot to play it!
Jon: It’s strategic – the words in that song are empty at this point. The show can only be as good as the level of sincerity; if I’m standing there singing, and the song is void of anything that I’m feeling, you go away with less of a feeling of potency, like you witnessed something special. At the risk of losing a fan who likes us for that song, I’d rather play something that every word that I sing I can feel when I’m singing it – I think it heightens the energy and intimacy of a show.
Jacob: I don’t want to discredit your friend [personal note: discredit him as much as you like!], but anyone who says ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ is their favourite song of ours has failed to check out the rest of the catalogue. There’s loads of special moments there – we’re happy to lose the fans who don’t want to dig any deeper.
Jon: I don’t know if we’re really a festival band anyway – we really record stuff bit by bit, it sounds like it’s made in the basement of a house in Ohio with a shitty lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. We are very much an indoor band.

They really don’t seem like an indoor band when they take the stage to headline Split… although we’re in a tent, so, technically, we’re indoors. Jonny flounces around the stage like a stroppy diva, Jacob conducts the band from his bank of synths, the two of them defining the sound of the Drums. Tension is never very far away; it’s built into the songs, it’s built into the band. There’s no denying the rawness of emotion on offer within ‘Portamento’, and it continues the sound of a band who love their electronic music but seem able to cross over into the mainstream guitar band consciousness. Direct from the Joy Electric dating agency.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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