The effervescent nostalgia packed into The Drums‘ latest album, Abysmal Thoughts, is a direct result of two things: Pulsating melodies and the weightlessness of singer Jonny Pierce’s vocals. The last remaining founding member of the band (he uses various musicians when on tour), Pierce opts for the ease of simplicity over cliche verses.
Songs like “Heart Basel” and “Under The Ice” are bare and brilliant in their execution while other gems like “Your Tenderness” and the title track truly encapsulate the overall throwback feel of the record. In an interview with Vice earlier this year, Pierce embraces having the spotlight all to himself but admits it harder than he every imagined.
“To my surprise, I haven’t felt this excitement for putting out a record since the debut,” he revealed. “I learned to stop looking at myself as worthless and inadequate and start realizing that I can do this. I’ve always been plagued with so much self-doubt, and I’ve pulled people into my life to stilt me up. It’s like I’ve always been on this hamster wheel working towards this goal of finally saying to myself, ‘No Jonny, you’re a cool cat. You don’t have to worry, man.’ But it’s easier said than done.”
While he was seemingly all business as he churned out fan favorites like “What You Were” and “Money,” his stage presence revealed a much more playful side. As he swayed and twirled and waved and jumped, it was clear that Pierce was lost in not only the vibrancy of the music but the supportive energy of the crowd (just three songs into The Drums’ set, he admitted he wasn’t expecting this kind of turnout).
Later, Pierce cranked up the intensity for “Let’s Go Surfing;” the build up of the bridge was so momentous that the vocalist couldn’t help but succumb to it. He spent the last few moments of his encore (which consisted of songs like “Rich Kids” and “Head of the Horse”) expressing joy and excitement that his audience consisted of young college kids, because he had an important message he wanted to relay to them: Follow your dreams no matter what anyone says.
It is also one that Pierce is learning to keep in mind as well.