The Districts is one of the most talented new acts of the year. The inner ability of this extremely young band to move between rock, soul and indie garage make it hard to tag them. Besides, if you add this energy to the powerful voice and lyrics of Rob Grote, the result is a pretty unique rock band.
“A Flourish And A Spoil” is their debut album with Fat Possum, after their self-released “Telephone” in 2012. The tour is in Spain today and we had the chance to talk with Braden Lawrence about his impressions and their hectic last months.
How are you? First time in Spain?
Yes. It’s great
Sometimes you’re treated as a new band in the media. But six years is a long time creating music. How did you create your style?
It took a few years until we figured out and gained more of our own individual sound. We’ve been a band for about six years but I guess most people see us as a new band because we got signed to a label about a year or so ago. So we are pretty new in that professional sense. That’s why people see us as a new band even though we’ve been trying to get there for six years.
I’m asking because I don’t know if it annoys you, or if you take it as a compliment because it may take away the pressure on you.
Yes. It doesn’t really bother us because we understand to most people we are a new band. I guess it would be nice to be recognized more as a band that’s not just getting started. People don’t realize, they think it just happened overnight when we’ve actually been working hard for six years. I mean less hard in the beginning because we were in high school but still trying to do whatever we could.
When was the turning point when you decided to make a living out of music?
We did a tour right before, well we did our first tour the summer before we would all go to college and during that tour we started getting label offers. So once we decided to not go to school and signed to Fat Possum, that was definitely the turning point in our band.
“We tried to get the energy that we have live across on the record”
“A Flourish And A Spoil” it’s your first album with Fat Possum but it seems like you are very prolific and have a lot of material to publish, isn’t it? How was the approach of this album when you had all of that material?
We actually recorded it three times. We started recording it as we were signing a record deal. It’s different versions of the album but we recorded with Bill Moriarty in Philadelphia. Some of the songs on the EP, like Rocking Chair and Stay Open were going to be what become A Flourish And A Spoil. So we did a whole album with Bill and then we tried it in a studio without a producer and then we did the final time with Jon Congleton. So I guess over the course of a year, trying to get our shit together, it totally changed. We wrote some new songs in between, during the process.
Do you have material for a new album already?
Nothing. That’s all past, “A Flourish And A Spoil”. We’ve been working on some new stuff but we haven’t demoed anything. We’ve been touring so much so we haven’t really had that much time to focus on it.
How was working with a big name like Jon Congleton? He has made a lot of albums different people.
Yes that was an amazing experience, definitely. We definitely learned a lot from him. He’s a fun guy and really a really talented musician and producer. He didn’t play on the album but it’s cool that he can come out, because he was in a really good band, The Paper Chase, so it’s cool that he can come and do a record with the knowledge of being in a band and everything that comes with being in a band and also being a good musician. He’s just a tasteful, good guy.
So did he take the best out of you?
Definitely. He helped us think about the sounds. Because we pretty much knew how we wanted our songs to be. But some albums he works on he really helps the artist bring it up from the ground. But we had a pretty good idea of all the songs. So he really just helped us take up our songs as a whole and refine them to a point that pushed it up.
I think the level of your lyrics is really powerful. Is this something that you made a special effort or does it come in a natural way?
I think Rob’s a really good writer. He definitely edits a lot. He usually doesn’t write for a song. He usually writes just to write and then puts it on a song, or the other way round. I think it’s pretty unique in that way. He doesn’t just write to fit a song. He kind of fits the song around the words. I don’t exactly know his process but he definitely works on it.
Your live performances are pretty good, do you feel more comfortable onstage or in the studio?
I guess for this album we tried to get the energy that we have live across on the record. We were really new at recording, not really experienced at it. We’ve done it a good amount of times but we’re not by any means professionals in the studio. We’re still learning. We’ve got a tape machine so we’re trying to record some more shit ourselves. But I guess we are a lot more comfortable as a live band. We’re hoping to just keep recording a lot and get better at recording.
It must be impressive getting to play with musicians you were actually watching on TV just few years ago, isn’t it?
It’s crazy. We toured with a lot of bands we listened to all the time in high school, like Dr Dog and at festivals we get to see a lot of our favorite bands. So it’s cool. It’s great to see so many people.
Which artists do you admire? Which references you have when you’re making music?
We definitely draw from a lot of stuff. I don’t know if we have one. There’s a lot of people we really admire but I don’t know if we have one specific guy who’s just. We have similar tastes but I think we all come from a decently different place.
Is there any band that you think, “ok I think we can be like them or even better than them”?
Yes there’s a lot of goals. So many bands have great careers. I think our favorite careers are bands that, it’s not just they put out an album and are super famous and their music just gets worse. A lot of our favorite bands put out constantly good records. Like Wilco or Radiohead or Spoon.
I reckon you may have received a lot of advices by now.
We haven’t really gotten that much advice on touring just because. But I guess we’ve learnt a lot because we’ve been touring so much. Definitely learnt a lot because you’re always doing something and you’re always tired. It’s good not to take anything too personally. Realize if you need to do something, you just need to. It’s definitely a learning experience. Still trying to figure out the best way to tour.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Pretty much playing some more festivals. We’re going to Japan and Australia, which I’m really excited for. Then we’re doing another tour in the US in the fall. After that hopefully starting to work on the new record.
Are you happy?
David Bernardo @rockasting