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Put Up or Shut Up: The Drums’ Jonny Pierce Takes on #DumbDonald

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The Drums are headlining a benefit concert for the American Civil Liberties Union this Thursday at 8pm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

As reluctant Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan once sang, "The times, they are a-changin'." Post-Obama America calls for serious art, especially music. Nina Simone was the soul of the Civil Rights Movement, and Marvin Gaye, the Sex Pistols, and Public Enemy all gave a voice to the oppressed as well, challenging the powers that be. Even Beyonce's music has taken on a more personal and political edge, hopefully awakening the Beyhive to an enlightened formation.

Indie band The Drums' 2010 debut album was a bright and poppy thing, a reflection of the preceding presidential election. Even the sadder lyrics were married to the happiest of melodies. Six years and two albums later their songs have taken on a darker edge, as the country's motto switches from "Hope and Change" to "Oh Shit!"

Lead singer Jonny Pierce has been a vocal critic of the incoming regime, often arguing with fans online and standing his ground. He put his money where his mouth is, as The Drums are headlining a benefit show for the ACLU this Thursday at Saint Vitus Bar in Greenpoint.


We sat down to talk about pop and politics over a rainy morning coffee.

OUT: How are you feeling? I know this election has taken a toll.
Jonny Pierce: Post-Trump victory I was angered and sad and completely baffled. I knew we had lots of hateful people in this country but this proved it.

This is our Brexit. Were you in New York for the election?
I was in London. I was in shock but it was nice to not actually be in America. All my friends in New York said it was so somber in the city, like 9/11, that same heavy feeling.

How did this concert on Thursday come together?
I decided to do something about it so I called my manager and said, 'Let's do a big benefit show.' It's much harder to do than you would think! Everything was booked. Out of nowhere someone from Pitchfork approached us so we jumped at the chance.

How important is the ACLU in times like this?
So vital! They consistently do good work and defend the underdog. Any organization that goes to bat for the outsider, I'm behind. As a band we can relate to the underdog, and myself, as a gay man who grew up in the church.

Sexism certainly played a major factor in Hillary's defeat.
My own mother even said a woman shouldn't be president. Traditionally women are much more thoughtful and don't have that macho ego thing. And people will say that they aren't sexist, but they really are deep down.

I've noticed that you have been talking directly with your fans online, trying to enlighten them on issues.
I'm lucky that I have some small degree of influence and I have to help people.


What made my blood boil was fucking Kanye saying he didn't bother to vote--some role model.
And if he did he would have voted for Trump. Insane. I have friends in bands or who have a voice and platform and they have remained's very cool not to care. It's irresponsible. Wouldn't you rather err on the side of giving a fuck?

Americans can't tell the difference between reality shows and real life anymore. His cabinet selection process has been like the nightmare version of The Apprentice, trotting out fools like Mitt Romney and fucking Dan Quayle. Scary shit.
What's really scary is Trump is not so smart.

There's a theory, proposed by Samantha Bee, that Trump can't read!
That explains why he has trouble with the teleprompter. The people he's surrounding himself with are smart and scary, and unfortunately they will be the ones making decisions.

Your first album came out in much more optimistic times, six years ago when Obama first got elected.
"Let's Go Surfing" was written on Obama's Inauguration day! I'm growing and learning every day who I am. The music has become darker and much more personal. I made the decision to just say it, let it come out. I feel a peace that I never felt in my life.

Music is especially important in times like these. Nina Simone during the Civil Rights Movement, the Dead Kennedys gave Reagan a hard time, and the Sex Pistols and The Smiths took on Thatcher and the Royals. Do you have any favorite protest music?
Well I was going to say The Smiths for sure. When I was younger I didn't like when musicians got political, I just wanted to hear good songs. I would be annoyed when Bono got too political. Now I'm quite the opposite, it's part of growing up. People are paying attention to what I'm saying--I better say something meaningful!

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