The Drums had just played their first gig of the night. Highlighted the #1 band for the next decade by NME they seem almost conservative as we sit and start to speak. The interview feels awkward as Alex and I start asking the first couple of questions. Talking about how they broke through the New York music scene strikes uncomfortable naivety from Jacob and Adam. “We played one gig, ermm.. In Brooklyn. We don’t know how it happened. The next day we were in a Brooklyn Vice blog.” We asked what this was. “It’s an insider’s blog in New York. Big following.”
As the conversation becomes slightly laid back and relaxed, we begin to speak of influences, the band stating their interest in artists such as; Field Mice, The Smiths and Joy division. They also state their disliking of other American artists such as the Dirty projectors. We speak more about New York City, The Strokes and their up and coming shows, two of which were in Manchester following their NME Shockwaves tour that same night. As the lead singer Jonathan Pierce enters hungry for noodles. We leave the bus. We enquire as to their next gig, Sound Control at midnight; they invited us along. They promise a full band interview. Looking forward to another interview with the whole band, we part in the direction of Sound Control.
We arrive at Sound Control full of questions and our inquisitive nature can barely contain itself as we watch the heavily tipped for 2010, Surfer Blood. They are poppy band with limited stand out material. They are tipped heavily for 2010 but the view remains that they lack what new acts such as ‘Bombay Bicycle Club, Big Pink and The Drums’ have – electricity and presence with the crowd barely shuffling for their set. The crowd were in suspense. Others views could be heard swinging overhead. The Drums had definitely over shadowed others playing before them. There was a long wait. Pause. Then background music, stopped and out stepped the band. More reassured than before. They pulled attention quickly with vicious dancing and tambourine. Jacob later showed us cuts on his hand. Haphazardly, we responded “you’re a modern day Bez.”
“Whose this Bez guy? I hear a lot about him. I’ll fight him”
The band, were all as enthusiastic. Jonathan’s Curtis-esque dancing was drawing crowds. He introduced his second song, new single, “Best Friend.” Not yet released it takes a strong personal angle. Lyrics are merged to tell a tale of the bands continuing friendship. “It’s about how John would feel if I died.” Surprisingly sentimental while airy, it takes an alternative step away from the bands other work. The performance of well known “let’s go surfing” jumbles up members of the crowd with pushing. Calmness resumes and the recent single retains the buzz. Played well and with ferocious esteem, “I felt so stupid” provokes singing from members of the audience. The band highlighted new work. Their reaction when asked about it was “We have finished the album. It’s actually getting mastered. Were always picky with what goes in. So we’ll probably see the album nearer summertime” The band finished their set on the remaining songs of Summertime E.P., released 2009.
Slinking off into the greenroom we are asked to follow.
Backstage the bands are surrounded by excited New Yorkers. The guys clearly appreciated their close associates and musical comrades being around. The beer fridge is empty with signs of its effects showing, everyone much more open than the previous encounter. When asked for a second interview the whole band takes us into an empty back room within the dingy innards of Sound Control. Swaying and laughing the band speak about life on tour. They announce that they were “shocked” by the monstrous support given by Manchester’s finest. When asked about what particular gig they are looking forward to on their epic tour, taking them all over Europe, they put forward that “we are really looking forward to Glasgow”, surprising to say the least as Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin are all on the agenda.
Quick introductions were made to the New York clique. They made sure we were happy with our interview. “What do you think so far? Give us another question. We like this.” Others such as Surfer Blood’s JP seemed intrigued. “Ask us all questions, what do you wanna know?” We enquired about why 3 Gig’s in one night. “Yea it’s awesome. We love the whole... Madchester scene. We couldn’t pass on the chance to play factory records. ” But how do the guys get the energy? They laugh “We have no energy” It was apparent it was taking strain on the band. Later on the tour bus Connor (Drummer) refused to get off. They also seemed reluctant to drink. Swilling drinks of water off stage. The tour manager entered the dingy backroom. “Guys it’s time to head to FAC 251.” The band ushered us with them. Outside on Wakefield Street, Connor pointed in the direction of the Tour bus. It seemed apparent we had joined the bands plans for the night.
Aboard the bus the band made us a feel at home, handing us cold beers stolen from backstage at Manchester Academy. Connor immediately takes control of the IPod dock. After much thought, The Strokes, Wigs and even the all time classic “Be My Little Baby” are played, portraying diversity and loyalty to the New York scene. Roots seem to be embedded in them. Their original plans in New York seem far away. But they talk of times of no money. “We had nothing. We all travelled to New York to play music” Quiet. He continues. “We had nothing, played gigs for different bands. Then.. We got together at a gig, wrote music together. It wasn’t long till we noticed we were playing something we felt extremely confident in. The jobs we flitted with were dropped. Then here we are now.”
To our left is a jar of peanut butter, smooth, and to the right is the rest of the band, sat down and relaxed. When enquired as to any pre-gig nerves, the whole band chuckle and dismiss any such ideas, embracing their success and flowing with it accordingly. Behind us the roadies and management organise the guest list for The Factory. We are named. Stepping off the bus we feel we are not the only strangers. Connor notices peanut butter has been thieved. His nature changed. Two lads holding the peanut butter stand by the doors. “What the fuck! It’s a laugh yeah. What are we meant to eat tomorrow” Yet another silence occurs. Things calm down, and we move in.
Inside the club, the atmosphere is one of eagerness as the alcohol and water consumption continues; the club have kindly donated a crate of Corona for the group within the VIP area. The band sits together, not worrying or showing any signs of nervousness at all. Talking to geeky guitarist Adam, we learn the 25 year old New Yorker is a graduate in furniture manufacture, when asked “could you build me a chair?”, he kindly responded “yeah sure, I could build you a chair”.
The band hit the stage; electricity fills the air as once again lead singer Jonathan flings himself about the stage, using all energy reserves to fill the ears of the Manchester youth with musical ecstasy. Backstage, a great sense of realisation of where we are hits us as Orlando; iconic lead singer of Maccabees enters the room. The man who fronts the headlining act of the Shockwaves NME Tour is greeted with open arms and slots straight into the mix of things.
When approached, Orlando appears relaxed and polite. Smaller than the images suggest and with his legendary silver hoop dangling from his ear, a brief interview begins. When asked about future plans for the year, he rejects any rumours of future tours stating “when we finish this tour, we are going to concentrate on our next album”, impressive to say the least as second album ‘Wall of Arms’ only hit the high street in the autumn of 09. Orlando is modest, declaring his belief that the Maccabees “will never be the type of band that sells millions of records”. Disagreeing with his views, he smiles and hugs me before dashing off to see fellow tour members
The Drums finish their set.
Their set amazes spectators. Tugging the last thread of energy the band leaves the stage. They are obviously exasperated. “What a journey.” Adam sighs and we nod. Their expectations of themselves drag them thin. They obviously show grand effort. It’s easy to see why other journalists speak highly. There reaction to tired bodies was to retreat to the bus. Adam continues while parting “Tomorrow were in Leeds.” This was said still with enthusiasm. How is unbeknown.
Expectation is monumental on these plucky New Yorkers. Their earlier reaction to this “We don’t see the hype. We have played from gig to gig noticing bigger crowds.” It’s apparent that maybe the hype is missed as they deserve their rewards. 3 unwavering performances in Manchester, warrants its publicity. If you don’t like them, you can’t knock them. Willpower from America’s latest breakthrough band means you’re surely going to hear more about them.