The War On Drugs did a 23 minute segment on WFUV last week, performing a couple songs and talking with host Alisa Ali. Listen to the full audio above, and check out videos of the performances below:
The War On Drugs "Eyes To The Wind" Live on WFUV 3.10.2014
The War On Drugs "Red Eyes" Live on WFUV 3.10.2014
Singer and guitarist Adam Granduciel leads the way with a quick wit and fantastic songwriting. Things start with a quick point on the importance of the word "The" in the bandname "The War On Drugs" - so don't forget.
Lost in the Dream is the band's third album. The band recorded the album through most of 2013, after Granduciel wrote the songs and made some demos at his home studio toward the end of 2012. After performing "Eyes To The Wind," Granduciel explains that the band has gotten better after touring and playing a lot of music together. Then there's some interesting discussion about how the album came together, how the band rehearses, and how the album was recorded in multiple studios. After the interview segment, the band plays "a mellow version of 'Red Eyes,'" another song from the new album.
In the videos, we can see that Granduciel plays a Les Paul with mini-humbucker pickups, which is rare because Gibson only produced guitars like that in the '70s before doing a reissue line in 2012. The guitar playing is a big part of what carries the songs, and the extended guitar leads lock in perfectly with what everyone else is doing. The rhythm section of Patrick Berkery (drums), Dave Hartley (bass), and Robbie Bennett (piano) deserve a lot of credit for loose, yet clean grooves that provide great support for Granduciel to sing long rambling songs and go out on those guitar solos without sounding boring or tired. This material is really fresh, and there's a beautiful warm quality to how it sounds.
One of the interesting things about the band is that they clearly pull from a certain breezy '80s rock style, but thankfully they've shown restraint with the synth keyboards and drum sounds that ruined many of those otherwise classic '80s records. On this WFUV performance, there's no synth keyboards at all. The band certainly embraces a linear tradition of popular rock music, and in this live performance, they wear some of their influences on their sleeve. That's a good thing, in my opinion, and they also deserve a lot of credit for making their most recent album as a really fresh work of art that's groundbreaking in some ways.
Comparing The War On Drugs to other artists, you can hear the vocal delivery of Bob Dylan and Mark Knofler paired with the soaring rock majesty of guys like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Jerry Garcia. During this particular performance, Granduciel seems to be channeling his inner Neil Young, playing harmonica and leading the band through ragged modal guitar jams.
Putting the band in historical context, you can feel the influence of the mid '80s Nancy Reagan "War On Drugs" era, but it all goes back to those early '70s Richard Nixon "War On Drugs" roots. So, put me on record as saying I think it's a great band name.
To finish things off, Alisa Ali gives the band a "guest DJ pick" and Granduciel asks her to play "Drive" by The Cars. The song matches the light, airy vibe of band's performances.
Host: Alisa Ali
Engineer: Oliver Beardsley
Cameras: Erica Talbott, Caroline Inzucchi, Deirdre Hynes
Editor: Deirdre Hynes