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Music Interview

The Drums interview: 'No-one expected a second album from us'

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The Drums
Following up a successful debut album is often a tricky task, particularly when it was showered with accolades and unanimous critical acclaim.

In the case of indie-poppers The Drums, it was the band rather than the music that hit rough seas, with guitarist Adam Kessler leaving and the two leaders' near-split over creative differences.

With their new LP Portamento out this week, we met up with Jonathan and Jacob to talk the new album, their religious upbringing and whether they'll ever make a record for the clubs.

The title of your new album is about going from one point to another; does that mean it's completely different from your last one?
Jacob: "The title actually means moving gradually from one point to another and the space between those two points. I think that sums up the album - it ends up in a completely different place than our debut but there are elements of the first in there."
Jonathan: "I don't think we're going to make a bunch of records so I think it's a good title in that respect."

You recorded the album very quickly; did you set yourselves a strict end date?
Jonathan: "Any pressure we had was self-induced. We felt really lucky that after six months of recording it was done. It was kind of shocking actually! We recorded 'What You Were' a year ago and instantly got the creative bug again, and the album just happened. In fact, every song on the record was recorded in one day."

Parts of the album focus on your religious upbringing; was it something you felt that you needed to get off your chest?
Jonathan: "It's something that stays on your mind - it never really goes away. This record is about coming to terms with all that. We decided to make an honest record and it would have been weird to not talk about that aspect of my life."

What was it like?
Jonathan: "I was living in fear my entire life of the flames of hell, but I don't believe in that anymore. I guess the album is quite freeing in that sense, but also sad to have discovered the truth."

There's a lot of heartbreak in there too, which feels particularly sad. Is everything okay now?
Jonathan: "I think it was a lifetime of being sad that all came to a head on this. I think some of the songs on the first album could have been a bit sadder, but when we made that album we didn't know anyone would hear it - we weren't really considering an audience."
Jacob: "A lot of people criticise our songs for being all about heartbreak, but what else is there to write about? I honestly can't think of anything else."

You could always sing about being "In The Club"?
Jacob: "John and I look at each other when they come on - every song is about partying or being on the floor, raising your glass..."
Jonathan: "It's the only safe thing to talk about today."
Jacob: "Maybe it's a reaction to American culture - rebelling against a religious upbringing but still feeling the need to worship something."

The Drums


Interesting theory. So there'll be no Drums song featuring a rap from Pitbull?
Jonathan: "Never! It's all so dumbed down, but I guess there will always be dumb people!"
Jacob: "Some of the Black Eyed Peas songs are ridiculous and people are just accepting it, it's crazy!"
Jonathan: "They've had something like 20 number one hits - 20 chances to say something, and they've never said anything."

There's a lot of emotion in your songs. Do you find it hard to put yourselves back in the moment when you're performing them for the 100th time on tour?
Jonathan: "It's actually a really comfortable place for us."
Jacob: "Why I like making music is the thought of some kid connecting to the song. When you see the audience reacting to your song it's easy to put yourself back in the moment. Maybe that's really unhealthy, but we're not doing this for our health!"

There was a lot of hype around you last year; is that a curse as much as a blessing?
Jonathan: "We already knew the hype around us was ultimately meaningless - I guess it was just one of those unavoidable things. I feel like with this record that the hype has subsided and turned into something else. A lot of people thought we wouldn't make a second record, or that it would be terrible. People love to do that."

You both previously dabbled in electronic music before forming The Drums; will you ever return to that?
Jacob: "I think we've infused more electronics in Portamento than our last album. We're so melody driven that it doesn't really matter what instruments are played - it's still the same song. It's possible that we abandon our guitars altogether in the future, or equally that we'll use only guitars."

Is it true that there were differences between you two before making the album?
Jonathan: "There were differences, but they weren't 'creative', as some magazine put it."
Jacob: "I think there were creative differences, though - more so on this album than our last. I think because of it, Portamento sounds the way it does, and that can only make for an interesting record."

The Drums' new album Portamento is out now. They tour the UK in December this year.

Watch the music video for The Drums' 'Money' below:

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