Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From an Omaha Coffee Shop

Hey gang. It is yr old buddy Patrick here, writing you at the end of a short break from the daily grind in Omaha, NE, following the completion of the first leg of our tour with our new best pals Okkervil River and Future Islands. Wow, what fun we have all been having. Okkervil River are pros without being total assholes (yes, it can be done), and Future Islands have been keeping us in stitches whenever they aren't cutting us to the bone with their razor-sharp sincerity. Good times. Future Islands are headed back home now, and they'll be dearly missed. Shout outs to Balkans and Spider Bags for hooking us up with places to sleep along the way. You guys haven't been e-mailing us with invites to come over to yr houses - what's wrong? Don't you want to come to the show for free? Do you want Titus Andronicus to have to sleep in some horrible motel and probably get bedbugs and/or murdered?

All right, so what else is happening? This is going to be one of those times when I ignore the by-now-well-established rules about internet content turnover (I prefer an apple turnover), and tell you guys about some shit that pretty much happened a hundred years ago. What is up with the internet? It is like informational bulimia - you take in more of it than you can handle, and then you have to regurgitate it right away, and none of it does any good or makes you any healthier. Whatever! I like my old-fashioned schedule of letting things settle for a week or two and then writing about it. It is charming, dammit!

So yeah, what I mean is, about a week or a month or a year ago, we had the distinct pleasure of participating in Our Band Could Be Yr Concert, an event celebrating ten years of Michael Azzerad's seminal indie rock text, Our Band Could Be Yr Life. Our contribution honored the Replacements, who taught TA much about the spirit of rock and roll and its many freedoms and attendant dangers, and how drinking too much is stupid and wasteful and not really cool or romantic at all. RIP Bob Stinson - that man should still be shredding! Having a few beers is okay, though. Learn more, and listen to the whole thing, here. Below, find us performing 'Kids Don't Follow' and 'Raised in the City.' Shouts to our boy Craig Finn for representing Minneapolis.

Before I show you a video of us playing the quintessential Replacements theme tune, 'Treatment Bound,' you have to know that this most recent performance is only part of the story! For years now, this song has been beloved by yr boy and revered as probably the best song about being in a rock and roll band (not for want of trying on the part of O. River, who sure do have a lot of songs about being in a band - damn, baby). I first tried to use some of this magic for my own sick, selfish purposes back at the record release show for The Monitor way way back on 3/6/2010. I had hoped that the beautiful song might say something about the adventure the young TA 5.0 was then gearing up for. Listen up!

Titus Andronicus - Treatment Bound (3 6 2010) by titusandronicustheband

Props to the other #1 website NYC Taper for furnishing this mp3. Don't download the recording of the show it's from, though - that shit was abominable. Totally my fault, for the record - I didn't know how to keep a guitar in tune in those days. NYC Taper has a good recording of a show we did some six weeks later at Maxwell's in Hoboken that has got all the same songs and more and guitars that are mostly in tune. That's what's up.

Here is a recording of us rehearsing the song in the apartment where David and I live. This is myself on guitar, harmonica, and vocal, Amy on guitar, David on keyboard, and Julian on bass and vocal. Eric wasn't there because our apartment is a no-drum-set zone.

Titus Andronicus - Treatment Bound (5 19 2011) by titusandronicustheband

Julian did a fine job singing the harmonies on those choruses, but he did a pretty crappy job of showing up on time to this rehearsal. As such, here is a free form jam in good old E that we did whilst waiting for him to arrive. Yes, folks - we are a jam band now.

Titus Andronicus - Jammin' in E (5 19 2011) by titusandronicustheband

So yeah - after all this, TA was ready to perform the song for real. Look!

The Replacements. What a band. Honoring them in this way was a great dream come true. So was having our picture taken by our new buddy Daniel Corrigan when we were at First Ave in Minneapolis back in April with Bright Eyes. You might remember Daniel as the man who took the iconic cover of Let It Be. I hate to reduce him and his long and illustrious career to one snapshot, but damn if I didn't spend plenty of my youth looking at those boys goofin' off on that roof and wondering. Here is one of those pictures that Daniel took.


The internet's number one website has got some pictures. They also make this worthwhile point to stick in yr craw:

"I think it says something about Michael's curatorial intent (and the state of indie music currently) that 9 out of the 14 acts featured women playing the very male-centric music of the original bands. Still, that thoughtfulness doesn't necessarily stop guys in the audience from catcalling when a woman takes the stage at a punk/indie-rock show, as was the case here. Azzerad points out the disconnect between bands and their audiences in the book (Black Flag vs. its fans is a memorable one), so perhaps this echoes that, and I guess it's not really a surprise that male rock nerds still have a problem dealing with women artists, but alas - one bummer of the otherwise inspiring night."

If this makes you mad, yet you are drawn to reading it because of its relation to yr interest in indie rock, then you are probably ready to start reading our beloved Amy's Tumblr, where you can find all the fuel you need for that fire. Good website, this one - especially considering the essays there are generous in size, ready to have yr teeth sunk in, not the sort of in-one-ear-and-out-the-udder web nonsense. The internet is so massive!! Why does everything need to be teeny tiny? So yeah, check it out. There's other topics discussed besides feminism and indie rock too - you'll see.

Speaking of Amy's ongoing crusade, did you all see this feature in leading feminist periodical Bust? That shit was pro. Also, the writer is named Amy as well - a real house of mirrors. Look at it now:


If this Permanent Wave sounds like something you could be interested in learning more about, they have got a Tumblr as well. Dig it!

Speaking of Tumblr, Amy's not the only employee of TALLC who is making waves on the web in their spare time. Have you seen Eric's comic blog? It is sure to make you laugh until you cry. Here is a cartoon he drew about a very annoying and bewildering passenger-seat-driver. Did I choose a cartoon by our drummer Eric involving a car in tribute to the late KISS drummer Eric Carr? You bet yr ass I did.


All right, speaking of members of TA gone wild on the internet, it is time for another installment of HIT LIST/SHIT LIST, wherein stuff that is cool goes on the Hit List and stuff that isn't cool goes on the Shit List. Got it? Great.

On the HIT LIST this time is the scorching hot Nashville, TN punk scene. Over the course of this tour, I have been hooked on the new album We Are The Champions by reigning kings JEFF the Brotherhood, as well as the new heat 1971 by Natural Child (I gave these dudes props once before, and that was even before I could've known they'd go on tour with the homies Liquor Store). Sick bands both, but my favorite is still Diarrhea Planet. Man, I love that band. Listen to their recent NYC debut at Shea Stadium, organized by none other than Titus Andronicus LLC, right hurrr. Nashville is straight BURNIN right now!! It's worth noting also that Tennessee is one of the most beautiful of the United States. Rolling through it's natural majesty is a soothing balm that likes of which my soul has very rarely known. Too bad it is also pretty much the most homophobic state going. That reminds me -

It hurts me deep inside to mark down onto the SHIT LIST my one-time favorite TV comedian Tracy Morgan, whose homophobic ravings are old news to all of you by now. I don't know what part of this story is the most disgusting, whether it's the horrible rant itself, the pathetic back-pedaling and bending-over-backwards T.Mo is doing to cover his ass now that he sees that nobody is going to have his back when he wants to act like a total shithead, trying to pass off straight up hate speech delivered with no comedic merit or visible humorous intent as "just joking," or, of course, the classic, and classically FUCKIN' BULLSHIT, move of trying to pass off hate as "being a good Christian" or whatever nonsense they're trying to sell us.

Man, what the fuck is going on with the world nowadays? Are we so bored and desperate for "edginess" that we are looking at basic respect and decency between humans as boring milquetoast? I don't care if you are the star of 30 Rock or the hottest rapper on the best record label XL Recordings (yeah, I said it) - using homophobia, or any kind of blind hate, to sell yr shitty product is straight up loathesome and dispicable. Even if yr "just pretending" or it's okay because "words don't mean shit," don't get it twisted - yr hate speech validates real feelings in the hearts of real Americans who might only need the littlest bit of validation to take their madness to the horrid next level, whatever that may be.

And hey! All you studious white bastards who look at this kind of bile as a return to "authenticity" or "real danger in art" or whatever the fuck, you are just as big idiots, and worse, yr a bunch of chickenshits who want to get off vicariously without getting yr hands dirty with all yr "think pieces" and so on. Shame on thee!!

Also on the SHIT LIST, for much the same crime, is bastion of decent journalism TIME Magazine, who kicked off their interview with Chaz Bono with the question, "Changing genders - are you crazy?" Fuck you, TIME Magazine! What kind of invalidating nonsense is that?

Damn, yr boy is getting riled up. I am going to need some pro-queer fire to get me smiling again. With that in mind, find below the official summer anthem "Imma Homo" by Rainbow Noise, and the big homies Free Energy performing their uplifting classic "Hope Child" for the website the New Gay (I did an interview with these dudes too - lots of love).

All right, well, that is probably enough for now. We must be getting over to the concert anyway. Let's speak again soon, all right?

Yr friend,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tom Scharpling Strikes Again

Hey gang. By now, you have all seen our new music video for our song, "No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future," a loving tribute to TA's homestate of New Jersey, directed by Garden State lifer Tom Scharpling. What is that, you haven't seen it? Well, here it is.

"Huh, I don't get it! What was that supposed to be exactly?" Well, I thought it was pretty clear, but okay - here's an article that ran in a serious, adult newspaper around the time of the shoot, the same great newspaper that broke the news about Selective Eating Disorder, but that is a story for another day. Point is, I received this cryptic message from Mr. Scharpling earlier with instructions to pass along to you guys, so read on, if you dare.

He writes, "I have in my possession a live clip of Titus Andronicus performing an AMAZING version of "A More Perfect Union" shot in New Brunswick during our one-day tour of New Jersey as documented in the "No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future" video that we dropped a couple weeks ago. You can watch the "No Future" video by going HERE.

I will put the new clip online if we can get the "No Future" video to 100,000 views before Titus Andronicus play New York City on June 7th. But if we don't get to that goal, the only video I will release will be one of me DELETING THIS VIDEO FROM EXISTENCE.

I am not joking about this - on June 8th you will either get a video of Titus Andronicus rocking out, or you will get a video of me sending this footage to the great trash icon in the sky. The choice is yours, and if you want to see some new Titus Andronicus action, you need to get the "No Future Part Three" clip to 100,000 views by June 7th!"

Well, there you have it - a chilling vision of things t come, as it looks like old T.S. wants one more jewel for the crown as far as this whole music video project goes. I can't deny that we at Titus Andronicus LLC have at times lusted after the prospect of internet fame, as you remember from "Kanye on a Plane," which we expected to have well over One Million Views by now. "What's Kanye on a Plane," you ask?

Besides, would Scharpling really be so diabolical and senselessly cruel to delete this innocent video when the internet is so vast, it's embrace, so inviting? Has any entity ever lived up to the promise of the Statue of Liberty as much as the internet? Why deny this video the same love? With a man such as Tom Scharpling, you can never be sure what is really going on, so to be on the safe side, we better go along with what he says and just do whatever it takes to blast this music video into the next echelon of online dominance. If it sweetens the deal, in this video, I will be wearing a sweet t-shirt of Glen Rock, NJ's all-time greatest punk band, VCR.

Okay, well, that's all for now. Let's speak again soon.

Yr friend,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

TALLC PRESENTS: Diarrhea Planet, Liquor Store, Battle Ave @ Shea Stadium 5/23/2011

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Okay gang. Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about the ongoing series of concerts that Titus Andronicus LLC is going to be putting on at Shea Stadium? And how the first one was coming up on May 23rd? Well, with that date approaching ever faster, I felt it behooved me to dash out a few words to remind you guys of all the pertinent information about the show and share some of the many reasons why it is going to be so great.

Firstly, the facts. The show is going down this coming Monday, May the 23rd. Shea Stadium is located at 20 Meadow Street in Brooklyn. The easiest access route for a lot of you will probably be taking the L Train to Grand Street, which is a short walk from the spot. Check out this Google Map for more info. The price is seven American dollars, and it all starts at 7:00 PM.

Why is Titus Andronicus doing this anyway? Well, there are a lot of reasons. For one thing, we recognize that we are in possession of a certain amount of “cultural capital,” on account of us being Young Gods of this indie rock game. We know that this sort of capital, like any other, is as Dolly Levi described it – similar to manure in that it is worthless unless it is spread around, encouraging young things to grow. It is our hope, with this concert series, whatever love you may have for Titus Andronicus will persuade you to open yr heart to some bands who have touched ours, so that you may learn to love them as we do. Thusly will the love spread and grow and cover the Earth.

What's that you ask? Just who are these bands that could inspire such flowery speech? Well, our featured attraction upon this eve will be the New York City debut of one of the hottest bands yet to pop out of the ever-expanding-in-awesomeness Nashville punk scene, Diarrhea Planet. These young guns run four electric guitars deep and specialize in the sort of life-affirming, fist-pumping jock jams that would be equally suited to scoring yr next kegger or yr next Iron Man Triathalon; call it “Posi-Party-Punk” - I do. Or call it “American Oi,” or “Yeah Rock” - just don't call 'em on Tuesday, because it'll be too late and you will look (and feel) like a dumbass. RIYL: Japandroids, JEFF the Brotherhood, Misfits, Andrew WK.

Check out their blogspot for all the info you could need, and find the video of the band playing at Glenn Danzig's House below. Also, check out the TA YouTube channel to find playlists of two complete DP concerts in Nashville.

[UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that a video with the focus more on DP's songcraft and singing and stuff might be more persuasive, so here they are playing another awesome jam, "Babyhead."]

Keeping with the “scuzzy” and “lotta guitars” theme is Liquor Store from Glen Rock, NJ. Hardcore TitusHeads (aka Andronikids) will recognize frontman Sarim Al-Rawi as our original drummer, but when he left the band to pursue a college degree, we knew it was only a matter of time before he burst back onto the scene like Zeus out of his own head, a thunderbolt for every hand. Liquor Store is his golden chariot, featuring survivors of Glen Rock scene kings Above All Hope and Motown rockers the Mahonies at the core of their constantly expanding/contracting lineup (expect at least two electric guitars – prepare for as many as five). They recently completed their debut full-length record under the watchful eye of producer Kevin McMahon (TA, Swans, Real Estate, the Walkmen) and are sure to grow in the hearts of scumbags and scoundrels across Long Island, Jersey, and beyond. RIYL: reading websites like Terminal Boredom or the Goner Records message board, genres whose names include the word “stoner.”

Here is Liquor Store's MySpace page and blog. A video of them hacking it up to their generation-defining anthem, "Showdown at Wookie Lake," at Death by Audio is below. More such videos can be found as “Favorites” on the TA YouTube.

Finally, kicking off the festivities will be a promising young group out of the Catskills region calling themselves Battle Ave. Their twisting, turning tunes will drag you along a windy and wild road, from quiet, desperate singer-songwriter ruminations, to math-y workouts, to shimmering crescendos that will split the sky even as they split yr skull. They too have recently completed a record with that guy Kevin McMahon (Liquor Store), which promises to make “post-pop-punk” the next “swag.” RIYL: Frog Eyes, Explosions in the Sky, Cap'n Jazz, Say Anything.

Here is their Bandcamp page and learn more about the band and their mission from the Kickstarter video below.

Whatever you do though, don't let yr jaw drag on the floor for too long, as you will need it for laughing at the comedy stylings of our master of ceremonies, Mr. Matt Miller. Matt will keep the festivities moving and the funny bones a-ticklin' throughout the evening with his observations on the madness of modern life and the freaky foibles of the American Family. Learn for yrself why people are already calling him 'the half-black Seinfeld.' [FULL DISCLOSURE: In addition to being the original keyboardist of Titus A, Matt is also my cousin, and I am the only person yet to call him the 'half-black Seinfeld,' but that doesn't make it less true]

So, that pretty much covers it as far as the entertainment is concerned. At this point, you may hear yrself saying, “I am a NYC-DIY vet – now that I know the bands playing, I know this show like Bo knows baseball.” Guess again, smart ass – this time around, we are putting the DIY scene on notice and letting everybody know how it is done FOR REAL. Okay, maybe that is over-stating it but we are taking the hard line on one particular issue. That's right, folks – TALLC is hereby putting the “Punk” back in “Punk-tuality.” Unlike any all-ages show you have ever been to, this one is going to start and end at a reasonable hour. The doors will open at 7:00 PM and the first band will begin promptly at 8:00 PM, with bands to follow at 9:00 and 10:00. “Man, that is so lame,” you may say. “BK doesn't party on that old-person schedule! This ain't Florida!” Well, friend – let me explain to you why you are a doofus.

For too long now, the DIY scene in Brooklyn has been accused (often rightly so) of being insular and classist, and nothing more clearly exemplifies this issue, in my eyes, than the lax, downright irresponsible attitude towards scheduling that is so pervasive. I can't tell you how many times I have gone to an all-ages DIY space to see a band I love or am especially psyched on, only to either have to leave before they play or feel so beat by the time that they do get on stage that fully enjoying the performance is no longer an option. Implicit in this is the belief that the people who are deserving of a solid evening's entertainment are the ones who can stay out until all hours of the night. This may sound to some of you like the romantic, glamorous ideal of the City That Never Sleeps -- well, maybe the city doesn't sleep, but people need to, especially when those people have jobs. If we really believe that art, particularly the great American art form of Punk Rock, is really and truly for “the people” rather than a play-thing of the kept children of the ruling class, who use it to fill the holes in their lives where “responsibilities” or “obligations” would usually go, then why let a show run until the wee hours hours of the morning, when a working person must be in bed to get the rest necessary for their continued survival and prosperity? Punk Rock should be an inclusive and an adhesive agent, it's spirit a common treasury for all to share. By letting their schedules run wild as a wicked weed, the leaders of the DIY scene are submitting to the preconceptions held by so many on the outside – that inclusivity and righteousness are no more than a different set of clothes that these brats throw on like it just came off the rack at Beacon's Closet, that we could really give a fuck about reaching out to those of the community who don't fit the typical “trust fund baby” model. To this, TA LLC says, “No more!” We call for a new commitment to punctuality on the DIY scene that will allow for all of those who would seek to warm themselves by the fires of independent art to get a fair chance to do so, whether they be a millionaire transplant from Connecticut or a born-and-bred Brooklynite getting up at the crack of dawn to clean some toilet. On the punk scene, which takes such pride in the rejection of society's basest values, these two should be equals. By embracing Punk-Tuality, we can take a step closer towards making that possible. Sounds nice, right? We think so.

With the music wrapping up by eleven or so, you may go home, or hang out to shake yr whatevah to Titus Andronicus Superstar DJ Soundsystem Yadda Yadda Yadda Rocksteady Ruffinready Crew, spinning the hottest jams until those wee hours we were talking about before. Okay, maybe for like, one hour.

To reward you for yr Punk-Tuality, we will be having a Happy Hour from “doors” (7:00 PM) to the start of the first band (8:00 PM), where you will be able to buy an ice cold beer (Miller High Life, pending further notice) for ONLY A DOLLAR. A GOD DAMN DOLLAR. How many nightlife options include THAT? What's that you say, virtually none? I thought not. I know you guys are going to be drinking responsibly, but you may as well do it for cheap, right? I'll say it again: BEER FOR A BUCK. Get there early and get yr money's worth!

Speaking of money, the show is only seven bucks. Two Georges and an Abe get you three great bands, a steady stream of laughs, access to the cheapest beer on the scene, and the option of a good night's sleep to follow. If you find a better deal on this Monday night, then please wake up, because you are in a dream world, and we need you back in this one.

So, to recap:


Sound okay? Feel free to RSVP to this here Facebook event. All right, great! See you then!

Yr friend,