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      The Drums in Pensacola

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      May 20, 2019

      Monday   7:00 PM

      2 South Palafox Street
      Pensacola, Florida 32502

      • No Performers Listed
      The Drums

      with Tanukichan, Sweet Release
      THE DRUMSby Eve BarlowOn Brutalism, the fifth LP from The Drums a lot is different. It is quite possibly the best collection of songsin the band's ten-year career. The album is defined by growth, transformation and questions, but It doesn'tprovide all the answers. Brutalism is a form of simplistic architecture defined by blocks of raw concrete.Brutalism is rooted in an emotional rawness but its layers are soft, intricate and warm, full of frivolous andexquisitely crafted pop songs that blast sunlight and high energy in the face of anxiety, solitude andcrippling self-doubt.In 2017, The Drums put out its first record as a solo project. Abysmal Thoughts belonged to Jonny Piercealone. It discussed his painful divorce. Since, he has returned to New York and now lives between thereand LA. I felt my work in LA was done. I was exhausted, depleted and sabotaging myself, partying somuch but in reality running away from pain. It was a downward spiral. He wanted to deal with unresolvedfacets of his relationship with himself so he did therapy. It was do or die, he says. Figuring out what it isthat makes me happy, and acknowledging that I deal with depression. He looks at Brutalism as anextension of self-care. In order to take care of yourself you have to ask questions. Those are the things Ineeded to confront. It's interesting talking about the past, dealing with things that are long overdue. I'mdelivering something unsure and unclear.Even the fact that Brutalism sounds intentional, focused and efficient is a symbol of how Pierce'sprioritizing of his own health and wellbeing has bled into how he makes music. For the making of thisalbum, between his lake house in Upstate New York and a studio in Stinson Beach, California, Pierce wasmore open than ever, keeping his control freakery at bay, working with others to produce and record thealbum. He brought in Chris Coady (Beach House, Future Islands, Amen Dunes) to mix it. If there was aguitar part he wanted to write but couldn't play, he brought in a guitarist. It's also the first Drums recordwith a live drummer. Delegating freed up Pierce's time to produce a more specific vision.His intentions were rooted in pop, as they've always been. Back in The Drums' previous iterations,however, the pressure was on Pierce to maintain the innocent and nostalgic sound of this surf-pop indieband and it didn't allow him to explore sex, drug use, darker emotions or how he felt currently. AbysmalThoughts was the first occasion he had chance to do that. Lyrically Brutalism is another giant step in thatdirection. It's much more cut-throat. I think there's a parental advisory sticker on the cover! laughsPierce. I didn't have the courage to stand up for what I wanted before. I felt I had to keep thingswhimsical and that's not who I am. It feels empty. Sonically he had been devoid of external influences, soafraid of being accused of losing the purism of The Drums' sound. Now he's rediscovering music:everything from SOPHIE to 90s band Whale. They inspired the loop-based, breakbeat drums on 'Kiss ItAway' and 'Body Chemistry'. I used to think our songs sounded like they were held together by scotchtape. These are more bulletproof.Every track on the album is a standout. 'Body Chemistry' is the most infectious, a song about learninghow to not escape in other people. I think you can't be intelligent and not be a little bit sad, says Pierce,of his own permanent rain cloud above his head. '626 Bedford Avenue' does what the best pop songs do:it alerts the nostalgia cog in your brain. It's a familiar melody that you think you've heard before, whichworks given the context of looking back on a specific time and place. 'Brutalism' is about a love so intenseyou feel destroyed by it. Pierce tends to find himself loving in a very extreme way that's almost harmful.'Loner' documents the painful process of healing. I don't want to be alone and I am scared of all thepeople in the world, he sings about not knowing how to socialize. A reassuring thing has been inrediscovering that Pierce was building a community in the intricate relationships he has with listeners.Now that he's alone in this project it's even more apparent.That's the one thing that's kept me going through this, he says. Brutalism is defined by vulnerability. It istruly pop at its core with thoroughly modern production. I love pop but I feel that there's a sensitivity that'smissing, he says of the landscape. Pierce wants to sacrifice ego in favor of tenderness. I wanted tomake a pop record where I'm not declaring how great I am, he laughs. I'm questioning if I could ever begreat? I'm a grown man saying: ' I feel more crazy than ever. I feel lost. I'm terrified of the future.' With'Blip Of Joy' he ends on a note of hope. I hope that one day I won't deal with depression, that I can lovein a way that doesn't feel scary, he says. That's why you can dance to Brutalism and you can laugh to ittoo. Even though it's heavy.In many The Drums has always belonged to Pierce, but it wasn't until 2016 that he reclaimed ownership.Back in 2008 Pierce and his childhood best friend Jacob Graham conceived of a collaboration that wasnever intended to become what it did. Jacob and I were writing pop songs. I didn't think anybody wouldhear it. I recorded it with broken equipment and guitars that were out of tune. Pierce put it on MySpaceand weeks later interest was lining up. I scrambled and found the first people I could to turn it into aband. The runaway train lasted four albums. Pierce never felt he belonged. Sex, drugs, rock'n'roll andhanging with my buds doesn't resonate with me. I never found community in that, he says. I was soterrified that if I hit the brakes even for a second everything would fall apart. I was trapped with a sound Iwasn't crazy about, stuck in a culture I didn't connect with. I'm finally in my mid 30s starting to take care ofmyself.The past year has been transformative. I don't think I'll ever really find myself, he adds. I don't thinkpeople do. I don't think there's a day that you wake up and you go, Now I know who I am. The best wayfor me to be an artist is by taking a goddamn minute, being still and listening to what it is that I want andneed. It was a real year of growth for him, but growth towards what? I don't really know, and that's OK.

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