The War On Drugs – Buzz Band Gone Wrong

photo by Graham Tolbert

By Kyra Leib
The War on Drugs, formed in 2005, was a project created by Kurt Vile of Kurt Vile and the Violators and Adam Granduciel. Now The War on Drugs has bloomed into something special. Their commendable ability to seamlessly blend American with euphoric instrumental elements reminiscent of Phil Spector’s wall of sound delivers something like the joy of experiencing your first Springsteen record.
Granduciel, who describes his Philadelphia neighbourhood as “semi-depressed,” tells me how his environment influences him. He muses that his neighborhood – where some people have been living for eight to 20 years – has a “backwoods city vibe”, but hasn’t yet been gentrified. “Some neighbourhoods are getting knocked down for new, beautiful houses and my section is still run-down,” he muses.
I imagine their music is a testament to city life. The energy inherent in The War on Drugs’ music is the same energy you’d encounter biking or walking in urban areas. That is why this band’s music is so universal. The timeless facet of their music is comparable to the neighborhood that Granduciel tells me about, this “backwoods city.” The physical and social environment that inspired the golden age of American songwriters is still present. The War on Drugs have been affected by these environments just like Bob Dylan was inspired by the American landscape or Springsteen was influenced by American politics and his Jersey roots.
The War on Drugs are often compared to Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the like. This band plays punchy, adrenaline-filled highway rock ’n’ roll and does it well. Yet they never lose sight of their own identity. Granduciel explained to me that singing like Dylan is not something he ever strained for. That’s just the way his voice has always been. It is for this reason that the group is able to blend genres so well. They aren’t straining to emulate anything, it’s all them. Continue reading “The War On Drugs – Buzz Band Gone Wrong”