The War on Drugs sounds new and exciting, but it also sounds eerily familiar, like Bob Dylan singing over New Order. Or Bruce Springsteen playing with Animal Collective.
Reviewers dubbed their first album, “Wagon Wheel Blues,” as “the perfect road trip music”. Frontman Adam Granduciel took time during an elevator ride in a Hyatt Hotel in Minneapolis to admit that it wasn’t on purpose.
“I think that album just kind of turned out that way, and those songs have that spirit to them, which is cool,” Granduciel said. “Because when you are driving and you hear that perfect road song, it’s like, ‘turn that shit up!’ and it seems like the most awesome thing in the world.”
The War on Drugs’ latest album, “Slave Ambient,” is accurately titled as it drifts away from the folk undertones of their earlier albums and arrives as something more experimental.
“There was a lot of time spent on the tape machine, just zoning out,” Granduciel said. “We wanted to do something different and not so run-of-the-mill; lots of experimentation and evolving.”
Another thing that’s been evolving on the records, besides the music itself, are the lyrics, and the process of arriving at the lyrics.
“When I record in the moment, I try not to write it all out and perfect it,” Granduciel said. “I always have one or two improving lines, and it grows over time, and gets rearranged, reworked.”
Granduciel finally records what’s been reworked in his head over several recording sessions, but when it comes to performing live the improving is no longer a factor in the sound.
“Lyrically, for the most part when we’re performing, what’s recorded stays pretty consistent,” Granduciel said. “Straight and narrow, just like the record.”
“Slave Ambient” has been out for little more than a month and is already winning over some pretty-hard-to-win-over reviewers. Pitchfork called it “the best new music” and Rolling Stone gave it four stars. What to do now that everyone is raving about them? Daydream about a tour bus stocked with food.
“We are riding around in a 15 passenger van now, but I’ve been inside those big tour buses before,” Granduciel said. “Sometimes I think about what I would do on a bus like that and I’d start by opening the fridge and seeing it full of vegetables. Then I’d maybe make a tofu scrambler.”
Food is always a good ingredient in decadent dreams, but a practical one nonetheless.
“I think if you can find a good breakfast place in whatever city you happen to be in, 80 percent of your problems are over,” Granduciel said.
The War on Drugs has been informed of the tofu infused specialties at Sluggo’s, so it’s a possibility you might find them there the morning after their show at De Luna Fest, thankfully acknowledging the elimination of a good chunk of the day’s problems.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
WHAT: The War on Drugs, Weezer, The Shins, Ra Ra Riot, Big Boi and more!
WHEN: Oct. 14-16
WHERE: De Luna Fest