3545 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Events at this location
The Drums frontman Jonathan Pierce talks about life on the road, the band's new album, and their show at Brooklyn Bowl on December 14, 2017
What happens when The Smiths meet The Beach Boys? The Drums. The New York City outfit broke onto the scene in 2008, supplying a satisfying sound that married ’80s synth pop with ’60s surf rock. It’s a style that is undeniably danceable, but also is the perfect soundtrack for any road trip, lazy afternoon or casual kickback.
Frontman Jonathan Pierce has been supplying dreamy vocals since the beginning—from 2010’s eponymous debut to this June’s Abysmal Thoughts—and all releases have been met with critical acclaim. (Seriously, take a listen to “Let’s Go Surfing” or “Blood Under My Belt” and you’ll not only agree with critics, you’ll add the tracks to your playlist and visit them repeatedly.) The face of the band is on his own now, though, traveling the globe with touring musicians after the departure of his three former bandmates—but the band’s sound, which is equally at home at a beachfront campfire or in the grittiest concert hall, is still the same. Vegas Seven caught up with Pierce following a leg of his European tour, in anticipation of his December 14 gig at Brooklyn Bowl. Read on for his thoughts on the new album, what to expect at the upcoming show and more.
You mentioned you’re pretty tired. I know you’re in the middle of a huge tour. Where did you just get back from?
We were out for three and a half weeks, all through Europe. We started in Turkey, went to Russia, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, and then we went to Belgium and the Netherlands and went to the U.K. and Scotland and Ireland. We played multiple cities in a lot of those countries. So it was busy and it was exciting. … This is the first tour I’ve ever done without any other original members of the band. It’s also my favorite tour, and I know that sounds like I’m [being] a dick. It doesn’t have much to do with them not being there, it just has to do with how powerful these shows felt, and I think a lot of that is because I’m able to just really be myself and own who I am and present myself for who I am. In the record, onstage, even the merch designs—just every little aspect of The Drums, I’m in full control of [it all]. It just feels life-affirming. It’s just a beautiful thing. It’s all great and I’m excited to continue that in North America.
Your sound, a mix of surf rock and synthy pop, is so unique. What inspired you to blend those two genres?
I think it came from a pretty innocent place. I had just left New York City, in 2008, to move to Florida, of all places, because my best friend at the time, Jacob, was living there. And I wanted to get out of New York City—it’s just kind of a place that was starting to tear me apart. And I knew that I wanted to make music. Jacob was the person in my life who also loved music, and I thought with him, we’ll be inspired and we’ll make some music. … He was into some of those really obscure Factory Records bands. … We just started listening to all of that stuff. And I think the whole Beach Boys vibe, or whatever you want to call it, for lack of a better term, it kind of came from being in Florida with beaches all around. So that sort of just stepped in organically [and] we kind of blended the two things … synthy, twangy guitar mixed with sort of a Phil Spector–esque, sort of 1950s/1960s pop. It just kind of presented itself to us and we just kind of ran with it.
You had a few breakups—with a partner and band members—prior to the release of your latest record, Abysmal Thoughts. What inspired the album?
This album is very personal, it’s very introspective and it comes from a very real place. I think even [in] Portmanteau, there was a lot of realness there, but there was a tinge of whimsy. I always lean toward making things more cinematic, and there’s an innocence that comes [with] that, and romanticism. I didn’t want to do that with this record. I wanted to be as real as I could be and I wanted to talk about what I was going through. So that’s why this [album is] like a mirror. I admit I’m a grown man and I have no idea where I’m going in my life and I don’t really know who I am and I want to figure this stuff the fuck out. The whole record is about saying that. … It really was a beautiful healing process for me. In the end, I walked away feeling like I understood myself better. … They always say, “If you need to vent, you should write some stuff down, get a journal,” or whatever, and so I was able to do that with this record. And the other beautiful part of that is, I realized by touring this record, that there are so many people out there who are in the same space that I’m in. Every night I do a signing after each concert for whoever wants to come up and say hello, and I can’t tell you the hundreds and hundreds of stories I’ve heard from kids just saying they feel the same way I do. They really connected to this new record in a way that they couldn’t connect to the other ones. It’s really encouraging to me and it’s just a testament to the power of transparency and the power of just being open and facing yourself and facing your demons.
What can concertgoers expect from the show this December? Surprises? Covers?
Surprises and covers? I’m not really one for surprises and covers. I feel like the whole world is trying to be surprises and covers. It’s like the only thing that gets a headline these days is surprises and covers. I can promise you one thing: I’m going to play a bunch of beautiful songs, and it’s going to be enough.
Will you have time to explore Las Vegas before or after the show?
We have a really busy tour. I’ve always wanted to ride the roller coaster that goes up the side of that building, but I seem to never have the time to do it.
You played Las Vegas this past spring for the annual Neon Reverb festival. What did you think of the Downtown music scene?
I can’t be one to speak of the Downtown music scene in Las Vegas because I don’t know [it]. All I can speak of is from my own experience, and that is that every time I have played Las Vegas, I have felt so much love. There’s actually a real intensity in the crowd when I play there. I remember one show in particular, we were playing the House of Blues. … The crowd was just so rabid, it really was so intense and wild. I just really appreciate the crowd there. I can’t imagine what everyone’s going through there right now, after what took place last week. I’m excited to bring joy to Las Vegas, in my small way, and to connect with people there. I think it’s going to be a really special time.
What would you say to people who are fearful of attending live shows after the October 1 tragedy?
You have two choices in life: Yes, being careful is a good thing, but you also don’t want to live in fear. Being cautious is great; that can be a strength ut every strength that is taken to excess becomes a weakness. So you really want to listen to your heart and do what you want to do. … Try your best to support each other. I have a hard time even giving my two cents, because it was such a traumatic event and I can’t even imagine being there or even just being in that city—not even at that festival—at that time. That’s just how traumatic that really is. I’m just encouraging [everyone] to be strong, and I hope to see as many as possible.
December 14, 7:30 p.m., $17–$20, Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq Promenade, brooklynbowl.com/las-vegas
$17.00 – $20.00
The Golden Age artist Dizzy Wright drops in on Las Vegas Brooklyn Bowl for an 18+ show featuring a stacked lineup of supporting acts, including RDGLDRGN, Demrick, Reezy, Euroz, Fatz,
The Golden Age artist Dizzy Wright drops in on Las Vegas Brooklyn Bowl for an 18+ show featuring a stacked lineup of supporting acts, including RDGLDRGN, Demrick, Reezy, Euroz, Fatz, SeDrew Price, and Chel’le.
This is the one we've been waiting for. It doesn't get bigger than Ja Rule and Ashanti (together again!) on New Year's Eve at Brooklyn Bowl on the Las Vegas Strip. Remember
This is the one we’ve been waiting for. It doesn’t get bigger than Ja Rule and Ashanti (together again!) on New Year’s Eve at Brooklyn Bowl on the Las Vegas Strip.
Remember those summers in the early 2000s cruising around blasting “Always on Time” and parking the car with your love while “Mesmerize” played on the radio? At last we can recreate those glorious memories on the loudest, sexiest night of the year.
Maybe Ja will regale us with stories about his brief tenure as an action movie star and what it’s like to do a buddy film with Steven Seagal? Maybe Ashanti will invite her co-stars from John Tucker Must Die? It’s New Year’s Eve, literally anything could happen.
The celebration begins at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 31. Tickets are priced at $75 to $1,313 and can be purchased via the Brooklyn Bowl website.
$75.00 – $1,312.50+