The War on Drugs
is an American indie rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in 2005. The band consists of Adam Granduciel (vocals, guitar), David Hartley (bass, guitar), Robbie Bennett (keyboards, guitar) and Patrick Berkery (drums).Founded by close collaborators Granduciel and Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs released their debut studio album, Wagonwheel Blues
, in 2008. Vile departed shortly after its release to focus on his solo career.The band's second studio album Slave Ambient
was released in 2011 to critical acclaim and extensive touring. A third album, Lost in the Dream
, was released in March 2014.Beginnings and Wagonwheel Blues
(2003-2008)In 2003, frontman Adam Granduciel moved from Oakland, California to Philadelphia, where he met Kurt Vile, who had also recently moved back to Philadelphia after living in Boston for two years. The duo subsequently began writing, recording and performing music together. Vile stated, "Adam was the first dude I met when I moved back to the Philadelphia in 2003. We saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things. I was obsessed with Bob Dylan at the time, and we totally geeked-out on that. We started playing together in the early days and he would be in my band, The Violators. Then, eventually I played in The War On Drugs."Granduciel and Vile began playing as The War on Drugs in 2005, self-releasing a demo EP. Regarding the band's name, Granduciel noted, "My friend Julian and I came up with it a few years ago over a couple bottles of red wine and a few typewriters when we were living in Oakland. We were writing a lot back then, working on a dictionary, and it just came out and we were like "hey, good band name” so eventually when I moved to Philadelphia and got a band together I used it. It was either that or The Rigatoni Danzas. I think we made the right choice. I always felt though that it was the kind of name I could record all sorts of different music under without any sort of predictability inherent in the name"While Vile and Granduciel formed the backbone of the band, they had a number of accompanists early in the group's career, before finally settling on a lineup that added Charlie Hall as drummer/organist, Kyle Lloyd as drummer and Dave Hartley on bass. Granduciel had previously toured and recorded with The Capitol Years, and Vile has several solo albums. The group gave away its Barrel of Batteries
EP for free early in 2008. Their debut LP for Secretly Canadian, Wagonwheel Blues
, was released in 2008.Following the album's release, and subsequent European tour, Vile departed from the band to focus on his solo career, stating, "I only went on the first European tour when their album came out, and then I basically left the band. I knew if I stuck with that, it would be all my time and my goal was to have my own musical career." Fellow Kurt Vile & the Violators bandmate Mike Zanghi joined the band at this time, with Vile noting, "Mike was my drummer first and then when The War On Drugs' first record came out I thought I was lending Mike to Adam for the European tour but then he just played with them all the time so I kind of had to like, while they were touring a lot, figure out my own thing."
Slave Ambient (2008-2012)
The lineup underwent several changes, and by the end of 2008, Kurt Vile, Charlie Hall, and Kyle Lloyd had all exited the group. At that time Granduciel and Hartley were joined by drummer Mike Zanghi. After Zanghi's exit in 2010, Steven Urgo took over drum duties and Robbie Bennett joined on keys. The band's second studio album, Slave Ambient
was released to widespread critical acclaim in 2011.In 2012, Patrick Berkery replaced Urgo as the band's drummer.
Lost in the Dream (2013-present)
On 4 December 2013 the band announced the release of its third studio album, Lost in the Dream
, due for release in March 2014. The band streamed the album in its entirety on NPR's First Listen
site for a week before its release.
Side projects and collaborations
Adam Granduciel and Mike Zanghi are both former members of founding guitarist Kurt Vile's backing band The Violators, with Granduciel noting, "There was never, despite what lazy journalists have assumed, any sort of falling out, or resentment" following Vile's departure from the band. In 2011, Vile stated, "When my record came out, I assumed Adam would want to focus on The War On Drugs but he came with us in The Violators when we toured the States. The Violators became a unit, and although the cast does rotate, we’ve developed an even tighter unity and sound. Adam is an incredible guitar player these days and there is a certain feeling [between us\] that nobody else can tap into. We don’t really have to tell each other what to play, it just happens."Adam Granduciel is currently producing the new Sore Eros album. They have been recording it in Philadelphia on and off for the past year and half.