Even New Rock Stars Still Love Their Local Bar

The Philly band The War on Drugs has just released an amazing new album, Lost in the Dream. But you can still find frontman Adam Granduciel at the bar down the street on a Friday night.

It’s not often that my opening interview gambit is “I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO YOUR ALBUM ON REPEAT SINCE I GOT IT, I AM OBSESSED,” but it’s also not often that I get to listen to something as great as the War on Drugs’ latest, Lost in the Dream. It’s a catchy, contagious rock album that pays homage to classic influences like Bob Dylan and Neil Young but also feels fresh and exciting. Granduciel formed TWOD in 2005 with fellow Philadelphia emigrant Kurt Vile (who’s since left the band) and has released two full-length albums (Wagonwheel Blues and Slave Ambient) and two EPs (Barrel of Batteries and Future Weather). Granduciel’s already spoken extensively about the making of the album and what he was going through when he wrote it. I decided to talk to him about, well, less intense shit.

2. Favorite venue: Bowery Ballroom, New York

The War on Drugs performing at Bowery Ballroom in 2011.

“They’ve got one of the best local sound guys in the history of rock music, which is Kenny. It’s like, we want to play the Bowery so we can see Kenny. Kenny’s worked there for about 16 years maybe. The rumor is he’s never missed a show. Even when Kanye does like a press-only show, Kenny’s working it. He talks like a typical New Yorker, like I could see him calling in to sports radio and lashing out against Carmelo Anthony. He’s like that classic New Yorker. But he’s such a sweet guy. He’ll fix your gear. He’s the most hospitable guy — he remembers all the bands, and he sees bands every night. Even if he doesn’t remember our names, he remembers us. It’s cool when Kenny likes your band. It’s like, if Kenny likes it, it’s gotta be pretty rockin’.”

3. Favorite album growing up: Nirvana, In Utero

Anton Corbijn / Via nastylittleman.com

“There were few things I cared about more than In Utero. I loved it. I got into Nirvana in ‘91 or ‘92. I was really into them and I was really into Neil Young Unplugged. My older brother was into Harvest Moon, so I got into that, and then I got into Unplugged around the same time. I got really into that song ‘Pocahontas.’ And I was really into Jimi Hendrix.”

4. Favorite bar: Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia

“I’ve lived in my house for about 10 years, and right when I moved in, about five or six months later, Johnny Brenda’s opened. Even when I’m there on a Friday night and it’s super packed and I don’t know a single person and I’m like, ‘the neighborhood’s changing!’, but I don’t not like this place. I love Johnny Brenda’s.”

5. Favorite road trip: Big Sur

“I was living in Oakland, and my friend Julian, who lives in Asheville, N.C. now, came up to visit me from Texas with his childhood friend Cameron. We got into Cameron’s pickup truck and drove to Big Sur. We stayed on Pfeiffer Beach for like a day and a half, and we had, like, four baguettes and some slices of cheddar. That was all we needed. Well, and like 78 Budweisers.”

6. Favorite record store, current or past: Mystery Train, Boston

“I found so much cool shit there. I feel like now in my life, it’s a fucking contest, who has the cooler shit. You can never impress anybody. If you’re like, I got this sweet record, they’re like, oh really, is it the first pressing or the Japanese? It’s like, give me a fucking break, who gives a shit. But back then, it was like this pure thing — Mystery Train is where I heard Spacemen 3 for the first time. I had the High Fidelity moment where I was like, what is this, man?”

7. Favorite app while on tour: Pinfinder

“I’m going to have to chime in with my bass player Dave here and say that this app called Pinfinder is probably the way to go. Dave’s a big pinball guy. Pinfinder tells you the nearest place to play pinball and what machine they have and how good condition it’s in. Yesterday we were up in Manhattan doing some radio stuff and we had an hour to kill, so we bust out Pinfinder, and he’s like, oh cool, .4 miles away we have Addams Family and three machines. We ended up at this bar that was like, a ground floor coffee shop, nice and quiet, no one was there, and then you go down to the basement and there’s just three pinball machines. I was like, I’ll just sit here and smoke my e-cigarette while you play pinball.”

8. Favorite book: Raymond Carver, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?

“In my mind it’s like the Saved By the Bell of literature — like, everyone’s probably read it. But I remember walking around with that book all over Europe. It was the first time I’d been to Europe and I was sitting in front of Notre Dame in the sunshine with a sketchbook and this dark Raymond Carver book. It was one of those books that I’ve just had a lot of different experiences with.”

9. Favorite drink: Beck’s beer

“Honestly, a cold bottle of regular Beck’s beer is my drink of choice. I actually went to Bremen, Germany, where it’s made, and had the most fucked up three days of my life, but for some reason I still gravitate toward Beck’s. What happened was I got food poisoning and my friend Julian was staying with a host family, and let’s just say that the host family had this guy in their bathroom for three straight days. I ate some egg sandwich, like runny eggs or something. They had a replica of a Picasso painting over the sink and I know every fucking stroke on that painting.”

The video for “Red Eyes,” off Lost in the Dream.

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