Jacob Graham's CV not only consists of: great guitarist and percussionist for The Drums, online music entrepreneur and Hedi-Slimane-collaborator but, most importantly, extremely humble and really nice guy. Growing up in Ohio and meeting bandmate Jonathan Pierce at summer camp, the musical journey of Brooklyn-based band The Drums is one that's culminated in a great deal of International success over the past couple of years.
Collectively, the two founding members, Pierce and Graham, have found themselves in quite a few animal-related bands — at least etymologically speaking. From Goat Explosion (Pierce and Graham), to Elkland (Pierce) and Horse Shoes (Graham), the formation of The Drums represents a departure from bands named after members of the animal kingdom and a well-deserved graduation to the forefront of the International music market — although their animal-related band names are extremely cute. With two studio albums under their belt already and a whole slew of seriously catchy tracks, we're very excited for the band's upcoming tour in conjunction with Laneway Festival. Their music is great, their drummer is Australian and they are genuinely lovely guys. What's not to love?
Can you tell me a little bit about your online music label, Holiday Records?
Oh sure. Well I actually started Holiday Records probably six months or a year before we started The Drums and it began because I really liked what a lot of friends were doing musically. We didn't have any money at the time so we just started putting music online and letting people download it for free and then it just sort of snowballed from there and we started meeting other artists all over the world who were doing things we really liked. Last year we actually had our first physical release, which was Two Wounded Birds, who are a great band from the UK. And right now we are just about to release a 7 inch of a songwriter from Ohio called Just Maybe. Essentially, we're just trying to release music that we come across and think is extremely special and deserves to be heard.
Cool, it's a great project and it's always inspiring to see musicians supporting other musicians. What about the music you're making yourself at the moment with The Drums, can we talk about your latest album, Portamento?
Well it's still pretty much a straight forward pop album, just like we've always made, though it's maybe a few shades darker than the things we've done in the past. In terms of the record itself, maybe the synthesisers and the electronics are a little more prevalent than we've ever let them be before. In the past we've just had very specific roles and parameters for the way we wanted to do things and I think for Portamento we either sort of relaxed those rules or just kind of shifted them ever so slightly to the left.
And did you really meet Jonathan at summer camp?
I did! We were very young at the time and very alone in our beliefs.
What was it like when you guys worked together with Hedi Slimane, what is he like?
Oh, he's really wonderful actually. He's not at all like I would expect, which I say only now after coming to read about him much more, because I didn't really know much about him before we met him. But he's a really great guy and has a great sense of humour, so it's a lot of fun to hang out with him. I don't know if I can even say that we've actually worked with him per se; I mean he's taken photos of us (pictured below) but it's always so casual that it doesn't even seem like work at all, it just seems like we're hanging out together, which is wonderful; it's always so great to see him.
Ok, so what's the first thing that pops into your head when I say the word Australia?
Hmm, well the first thing that pops into my head is our drummer, Danny, because he is Australian.
Cool. And did you guys enjoy your last tour out here?
Yeah, I always really love it out there. I remember specifically one day we had a day off in Perth and we just kind of walked around and I found some hiking trails and just hiked through the woods all day; it was really great.
I've never been to Perth before but a lot of musicians I interview actually speak very highly of it when talking about Australia, which is interesting I think. When you visit again for the summer festival season, though, are there any bands you'll be particularly hanging out to see?
Well I haven't memorised all the line-ups but there were a couple of bands that stood out and that I wanted to try to catch. I think number one on my list would be Twin Shadow. We've played a few festivals with them before and have kind of become friends, so we hang out every time we see them but I've never actually seen them play before, so I'm pretty excited to catch their full show, finally.
And if you could ask for anything, what would you request in your ultimate rider for your upcoming festivals?
Um, let's see…my ultimate rider would probably consist of a strong internet connection and a bed. Oh, and fresh pairs of socks. But that's in a dream world of course...
[Laughs] Speaking of dream worlds, what would your dream festival look like? Location, line-up, era, accommodation etcetera?
Oh, I don't know. Ok, well first of all I will say that, as far as accommodation goes, I definitely prefer festivals that are based in a city, you know, so you can stay in a hotel that's nearby and you can just walk over to the festival grounds.
That is a dream world!
[Laughs] Yeah, though it has actually happened a couple of times for us. Like, I'm in Barcelona right now and we played Prima Vera here a while ago, which was just like that. As far as other bands go, I'd probably like to play a festival that has a nice combination of old bands and new bands. You know, new bands that are kind of exciting like — oh, what's going on right now — like Twin Shadow, maybe we could play, bands like Two Wounded Birds and Cats on Fire and Xeno and Oaklander, who are some of my favourites from Brooklyn right now. And then some older bands who are getting back together and doing a really good job of it, like The Wake.
Sounds like you've got it all sorted. So, what's the naughtiest thing you've ever been caught doing at a festival or on tour?
[Laughs] Um, naughtiest thing…oh gosh. I'm sure whatever I did would disappoint you. Probably just having too much to drink or something.
You've never been caught having sex or doing anything that riotous then?
No, I'm generally pretty mellow. Sorry.
Don't be! What's your ideal way to spend the perfect summer's day.
Probably just hanging out with friends and not really doing much of anything; maybe reading a bit. I'm not very outdoorsy really, especially during the summer time. I feel like I'm affected by heat more than I should be so I kind of try to stay out of it.
Australian summers can get pretty hot.
[Laughs] I know.
Ultimate Road Trip Playlist V
Road Trip Playlist VI
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