Before jetting off to play at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022, Jonny Pierce from Brooklyn’s iconic band The Drums spoke to us from NYC.
“I’ve been all over Colombia,” says Jonny Pierce from The Drums, even before I can get the tape recording rolling. He catches himself soon after, clarifying that he means playing gigs in the big cities, but it’s clear he has affection for the country. He’s coming back this month to play at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022.
Jonny is looking forward to his trip, “We’ve always had such a lovely time,” he explains. “The fans that show up to our concerts just carry an enthusiasm and a passion for what we do that I feel is unique to the Colombian audience. It’s not what we encounter everywhere we go so it feels like a big warm hug every time we play a show there, it’s just so lovely.”
Of course, Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022 fans will be dying to know which side of the cordillera he prefers and he gives a shout out to paisalandia first, “I love to see how different cities do their thing,” he says. “I have to say, the probably the most lovely memory I have is riding down the mountain after landing in Medellín. The view looking down into the valley is just so stunning.” It’ll please the likes of Margarita Viva Siempre.
He also waxes lyrical about la nevera, and says he prefers the capital. “I’m looking forward to being in Bogotá, I’m a real city boy. I think I have more of a personal connection with Bogotá, I’ve made friends there and had a chance to hang out with fans more. I’m drawn to Bogotá, the beauty and the serenity up in the mountains.” We heard similar from Los Niños Telepáticos, so he’s in good company as a nature lover.
Covid has been rough for the band, and Jonny tells me about having to cancel gigs as he worried about the ethics of playing in the pandemic. There were some upsides though: “At the start of the pandemic I just left New York City and went upstate. I have this tiny little one-bed cabin there and I spent a year there alone. I really learnt about myself. I took some psilocybin and, without exaggerating, had a real spiritual rebirth.”
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“Playing shows now feels kind of exotic,” he says. “Because up until very recently, every show I’d played felt a bit chaotic to me. If I’m being honest, I’d be eager for the show to be over. I was panicked and feeling insecure, stressed out. I was either too much or not enough. I’m really present now, playing with a lot of intention and it’s a whole new experience.”
At Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022, The Drums will play 2011’s Portamento in its entirety to celebrate its (slightly Covid-altered) tenth anniversary. Jonny is happy about that “It’s nice to be bringing Portamento back on the road, it’s like a redo. Going back out, playing the same album, being present and God forbid, maybe enjoying it a bit. It’s awe-inspiring for me.”
That’s different to the early days of the band, when things were much more intense. “When I look back at playing Portamento as it had just come out, it was a chaotic time for me. From the outside it seemed like a dream come true, and of course on some level it was, but it compounded my confusion and my search for a place in the world.” Luckily, Jonny’s in a better place now, and looks set for a huge performance on Friday alongside locals like Piel Camaleón at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022. Catch The Drums at 5.45pm on Friday.