Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry and Ty Bryan, Mastering by Sam Patlove
Being declared the coolest band in New York by someone like the New Musical Express publication must have its ups and downs. It also might not amount to a whole helluva lot unless you can live up to it. What it does make is a busy as all get out South By Southwest festival when all of the blabber and slobbering is starting to hit something close to a fever pitch and that's where we found The Drums. They were being tailed by a photographer and reporter from a gigantic English daily newspaper - snapping photos of them in the oddest places at Big Orange and throughout their recording - capturing this young It band at the cusp of its ascent. Singer Jonathan Pierce, with a look that's somewhere in-between the dude who played the dickhead swimmer Chas in "Back To School" and some prototype for a clean-cut, farm-bred Midwestern football-slinging, girl-landing son of a gun, gets to the studio and asks for a private place to do vocal exercises. We take him first to the house next door, which smells like cat piss and has an unstable floor, but someone's sleeping off a hangover in the living room and another somebody is taking a mid-afternoon shower so there's no privacy there. We instead head back to the studio, where the live room is momentarily empty between sessions so Pierce takes to the bathroom and apologizes for the weird sounds that are about to be coming out of there - though we remind him that odd sounds are what bathrooms are for. Following his calisthenics, the band sets up and unleashes these three songs that are certifiable proof that there is all kinds of coolness within these four young men. Pierce, guitarist Jacob Graham, guitarist Adam Kessler and drummer Connor Hanwick - all with similarly distinct looks that make them seem as if they're cut from some long-gone and forgotten hipster time period that happened in Stepford, Connecticut - seem as if they've listened to all of the coolest records that have ever been and have churned that studious legwork into an amalgamation of all that can be considered sharp and distinctly cool in modern times. There are touchstones - The Cure seems to be an obvious one - but they take those familiar pieces of real estate and apply more of a chill zone effect to them, making them sound both moping and uplifting, as if they were attempting to just coax us out to the beach for the afternoon so we could forget all about it. Meanwhile, at the beach everything just got tossed together and the misery - all of the loss and rejection - was still being hashed out as Pierce was being hassled and couldn't just quit on the emotions. So, there's surfing and there's defiance. There's abandonment and there's elation - often mistaken for one another as Pierce sings, "All the stars in the sky and all the flowers in the fields/ And all the power in the earth can never take you from my heart/It's forever/Baby, it's forever," on "Forever And Ever Amen." The songs come from the perspective of four men who realize that they are THAT young that they're able to get away with such vague terms of endearment - love that couldn't possibly end, love that actually, physically welds or stitches hearts together to make for an unbreakable union.