It was the success of their second album, that really put The War on Drugs on the map. Adam Granduciel talks psychedelic reels and blue-collar rock to Jim Carroll
THE HARD SLOG is always worth the effort. Just ask Adam Granduciel. Since he landed in Philadephia around a decade ago, he has been making records, playing shows and hanging around in bands. Up to now, Granduciel is a name studious (or nerdy) music fans will have seen bandied around in assocation with Kurt Vile as well as his own vehicle Thewar On Drugs.
He was never one of the names in bold print, just another indie rock soldier in the game. But last year’s Slave Ambient album has pretty much changed all that. While The War On Drugs’ 2008 debut, Wagonwheel Blues, was a delight on every level, not enough people got around to digging its fantastic, colourful roots rattle to spread the word. Slave Ambient is a different matter: it’s the record which people actually have heard, loved and, best of all, recommended to other people.
Slave Ambient was for the people who had responded so positively to his debut album, says Granduciel. “I worked as much and for as long as I did on Slave Ambient for the people who got behind Wagonwheel Blues. The reaction to Wagonwheel Blues blew my mind. When that record was released, you had a bunch of people all over the place who were really into it so I wanted to make sure when I released the next one that they could see the progress and evolution between the albums. I was really happy when I finished the new record, but I’ve been amazed at how far it has got out there.”
Slave Ambient made hay with its grand, hazy, epic, big music jams. It was as if American heartland heroes like Springsteen, Petty or Dylan had got caught up in a Krautrock machine. A combination of psychedelic reels and blue-collar rock fired up the imagination and added to The War On Drug’s fanbase.
Granduciel has always had a strong sense of how classic rock’s weather-beaten shapes can be recast in a much more vibrant, nuanced and magnificent way.
“I’m just trying to write songs which are full of heart, and maybe the themes are a lot broader than other bands,” he says. “Maybe there is something in the music and in the feeling and the passion of those songs which conjures up those references. It’s coming from a place that I know. I was never a huge