Wednesday, October 8, 2014

War On Drugs' Adam Granduciel Overcame Crippling Anxiety on Lost in the Dream

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 3:05 AM

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Photos by Dusdin Condrin/Courtesy of Secretly Canadian
On a rare day off, War On Drugs front man Adam Granduciel speaks to me from his Philadelphia home. In the background, clinking kitchen noise can be heard as he prepares his morning coffee ("French Press"). The 35-year-old songwriter hardly needs the caffeine; he's excitedly loquacious as he speaks, a slight northeastern inflection in his java-fired delivery.

Since its release this past March, the band's sensational third album, Lost In the Dream, has delivered a next-level breakthrough for the psych-rock collective, of which Kurt Vile was once a member. Its tour visits St. Louis this Saturday at the Ready Room.

"I'd like to think Lost In the Dream's popularity is because the album is more personal or accessible," Granduciel reasons. "But I think it's more like people are experiencing moments with the record -- like listening to it on the rooftop with their best friends at 4 a.m.

"Musically," he continues, "it's less esoteric than [2011 LP] Slave Ambient. It's easier to understand."

Making the ten-track masterpiece was actually the easiest part of the songwriter's year, as Granduciel finally faced down the deep-rooted anxiety that continued resurfacing in his life. Frequent panic attacks grew more extreme as he readied the album, eventually eliciting depression and paranoia. Despite being written within this "dark hole" period, Lost In the Dream, disparately, sounds flawlessly cohesive.

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"Essentially, I was writing a record about what it felt like to have a really hard time writing a record," he scoffs. "I was working on music every day, but it was hard, every day.

"I mean, I wouldn't have even left my bedroom, but I don't have any gear in there," admits Granduciel. "So, I'd go downstairs to play piano -- if only for twenty minutes -- then I'd go back upstairs and stay in my room for two days straight. But I was always thinking about the music."

Granduciel facetiously likens this epiphany to life coach Tony Robbins, but then explains how he began dissecting the cause of his recurring apprehension.

"The idea that I was teetering on the brink of mild success made me start feeling like I was a fake or a phony," he recalls. "But it was because I wasn't able to step back and realize why these feelings were happening.

"As I began connecting the dots, getting to the root of what was making my mind freak out, I realized [that] for my whole life, I'd never really seen myself as being good at anything," Granduciel continues. "I wasn't able to step back and realize these feelings were happening because of this instilled schema.

"Instead, I'd think I was having a nervous breakdown, or a heart attack -- when really, I just had heartburn from drinking lots of iced coffee at 6 o'clock at night," he snickers.

The artist's admission is surprising, as the lush LP sounds anything but desolate.

Story continues on the next page.

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