Posts Tagged ‘Jonny Pierce’

Image may contain: 1 person, close-up

The follow-up to 2017’s “Abysmal Thoughts,” which marked the band’s first release as a solo project from front man Jonny Pierce, “Brutalism” is quite possibly the best collection of songs in the band’s ten-year career.

Listen to the latest album single “Loner”. Pierce describes the track below:

Being a bit of a loner is sort of like being gay for me. When I was a kid, I would pray to be anything but gay – and now as an adult, I treasure the fact that I’m gay. I celebrate it daily. Being gay forced me to think differently, develop my creative side, and to carry a punk attitude. It also helped me define my values and find empathy for those who are marginalized. Being a loner is very similar to that. I don’t like hanging out in groups because I feel real connection is often sacrificed in those settings. Since most people seem to disagree and love a group hangout, that means I spend a lot of time along and listen to my heart. It helps me navigate my life, but it still offers sadness that is always there. You can’t be sensitive without carrying some sadness, and that’s okay.

Like Jonny Pierce, who co-produced the album, Brutalism is a bicoastal record – written and recorded between Upstate New York and a studio in Stinson Beach. Following a painful divorce and an incredibly difficult stint living solely in Los Angeles, Pierce decided it was time to face his demons, and the making of this record is a part of that process. “I was exhausted, depleted and sabotaging myself, partying so much but in reality running away from pain. It was a downward spiral.” Pierce knew it was time to go to therapy, and begin to reckon with his depression. “It was do or die,” he says. While he focused on his mental health, the making of Brutalism became an extension of self-care for Pierce, and makes for some of his most honest and relatable music to date.

On Brutalism, a lot is different. The album is defined by growth, transformation and questions, but it doesn’t provide all the answers. It’s rooted in an emotional rawness, but its layers are soft, intricate and warm, full of exquisitely crafted pop songs that blast sunlight and high energy in the face of anxiety, solitude and crippling self-doubt.  Pierce was more open than ever, keeping his control freakery at bay while working with others to produce and record the album. He brought in Chris Coady (Beach House, Future Islands, Amen Dunes) to mix it.  If there was a guitar part he wanted to write but couldn’t play, he brought in a guitarist. It’s also the first Drums record with a live drummer. Delegating freed up Pierce’s time to produce a more specific vision.

The past year has been transformative for Pierce, who may a permanent rain cloud above his head but is working towards a better, healthier headspace“I don’t think I’ll ever really find myself,” he says. “I don’t think people do. I don’t think there’s a day that you wake up and you go, Now I know who I am. The best way for me to be an artist is by taking a goddamn minute, being still and listening to what it is that I want and need.” It was a real year of growth for him, but growth towards what? “I don’t really know, and that’s OK.”

Advertisements

Image result

With The Drums’ new Abysmal Thoughts, band founder Jonny Pierce is making the exact album he’s always held in his heart. Of course, this is The Drums, so that heart is broken—but there’s beauty and even bliss in this kind of heartbreak, as well as that special kind of glorious delirium that comes from taking everything life can throw at you and still walking away triumphant. If Abysmal Thoughts doesn’t sound at all abysmal—really, Pierce has rarely been this irresistibly pop—that’s because this is a story about how to figure out what happiness means once the worst has already happened. “Happiness can be confusing to me,” says Pierce. “It shows up out of nowhere, and before you can even get used to it, it’s vanished. But Abysmal Thoughts? I can rely on them—and with the political chaos that is raining down, who knows when these dark feelings will subside?”
As the last album cycle for the Drums finished and his long-term relationship with his former partner dissolved, Pierce took some time away from music altogether in hopes to reconnect with himself and find future inspiration. Determined to make a change, he ended up leaving his longtime home in New York and found himself isolated in a large empty apartment in Los Angeles, all his plans for life and love suddenly in shambles: “I said I wanted to let life happen?” he says. “Well, the universe listened and life began to fuck me real good! But honestly, I make the worst art when I’m comfortable. The stuff that resonates with me the longest—and that resonates with others—is always the stuff that comes out of my hardships and confusion.”

“Head Of The Horse” by The Drums from the album ‘Abysmal Thoughts,’ available June 16th

Image may contain: 2 people

With The Drums’ new Abysmal Thoughts album, band founder Jonny Pierce is making the exact album he’s always held in his heart. Of course, this is The Drums, so that heart is broken—but there’s beauty and even bliss in this kind of heartbreak, as well as that special kind of glorious delirium that comes from taking everything life can throw at you and still walking away triumphant. If Abysmal Thoughts doesn’t sound at all abysmal—really, Pierce has rarely been this irresistibly pop—that’s because this is a story about how to figure out what happiness means once the worst has already happened. “Happiness can be confusing to me,” says Pierce. “It shows up out of nowhere, and before you can even get used to it, it’s vanished. But Abysmal Thoughts? I can rely on them—and with the political chaos that is raining down, who knows when these dark feelings will subside?”

As the last album cycle for the Drums finished and his long-term relationship with his former partner dissolved, Pierce took some time away from music altogether in hopes to reconnect with himself and find future inspiration. Determined to make a change, he ended up leaving his longtime home in New York and found himself isolated in a large empty apartment in Los Angeles, all his plans for life and love suddenly in shambles: “I said I wanted to let life happen?” he says. “Well, the universe listened and life began to fuck me real good! But honestly, I make the worst art when I’m comfortable. The stuff that resonates with me the longest—and that resonates with others—is always the stuff that comes out of my hardships and confusion.”

That hardship and confusion—and the clarity of personality and purpose it inspired—became Abysmal Thoughts, an unflinching autobiography with Pierce back in full control of the band. He’s back to not just writing all the songs by himself but playing every instrument, too, this time realizing exactly his own personal vision for the band. Not coincidentally, it’s some of the most revelatory work he’s ever done. The key was opener “Mirror,” and from there, Thoughts simply flowed: “It very much felt like I was releasing,” Pierce says. “I had this visual of turning a handle and watching steam just pour out of the valve, relieving a lot of my artistic and personal anxiety. I was dealing with so much loss and feeling unsure and scared—and if there’s one thing I can rely on it’s the healing power of being an artist. I’m falling back in love with music. Creating this album on my own was a full-on long-running therapy session.”

“Heart Basel” by The Drums from the album ‘Abysmal Thoughts,’ available June 16th on Antire Records

Across a year and three months of home recording—with the same guitar, synthesizer, drum machine and reverb unit he’s played since the beginning of The Drums—Pierce put together Thoughts, first in that apartment in Los Angeles and then later in his cabin in upstate New York. With help from engineer Jonathan Schenke (Parquet Courts, Mannequin Pussy and more) he gave Thoughts a pop sensibility that added color and contrast to an already vivid self-portrait alive with the hyperdramatic emotional potency of the Smiths, the arch literary pop moves of New Zealanders like the Verlaines and the Clean, and the riotous clatter-punk power of the UK DIY bands of 1979. And this time around he’s introduced an slight influence from early drum and bass as well, drawn from his adoration of Roni Size and other electronic artists from the UK in the 1990s.

Now the highs are higher than ever, and the lows absolutely bottomless, and it’s the last song—the title track—that makes everything clear. The Drums are back, and while there’s a heavy sadness here, Jonny Pierce is stronger for fighting through it. On possibly the loveliest and catchiest song he’s got, Pierce takes his listeners to the edge of the cliff, and then drops everything but his voice, singing “Abysmal, abysmal, abysmal …” Some albums might offer a happy ending—even some albums by The Drums—but here Pierce just offers an ending. Because that’s more honest, isn’t it?
“There’s something in me that mostly prefers a sad ending,” he says. “The other potential title I had was A Blip Of Joy, the opposite of Abysmal Thoughts—if those two things don’t sum up the emotional chaos that I feel every day, then nothing will! But Abysmal Thoughts wins because … doesn’t it always?”