fter the 2017 release of their third album “Popular Manipulations”, The Districts’ frontman Rob Grote began writing and recording on his own in the comfort of his own room, his dog scurrying around his feet. Having formed the band as teenagers, Grote said each member felt uncertain as they were growing up, experiencing changes together and trying to decide the artistic direction of the band at the same time.
Suddenly we were new people in a new time and I’m trying to figure out, How do you want to do things now? RG
Grote said it was a hectic time for each member in the band but he spent most of his time writing as a means of escape. Rather than adhering to a musical style that would fit The Districts, he said he was just writing whatever felt right at the time. Grote eventually wrote a handful of songs and the band collectively agreed to record them for their latest album “You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere,” which was released March 13.
The Districts spent two weeks locked away together recording in a Upstate New York cabin, which was a different process than what they were used to.
We threw out a lot of ego-based ideas of what our roles were in the past. We were just kind of collectively in it together. RG
Their fourth album shows an obvious maturation in sound and ventured out of its usual garage rock sound. Through a creative, open mindset the band allowed room for more fluidity by including more synths and keyboard touches, along with Grote taking a jab at playing the drums. Grote said his musical influences have always come from singer/songwriters like Leonard Cohen & Joni Mitchell, “weird, old production” such as Brian Nino, Phil Spector and Lee Hazelwood. Grote’s favorite bands include The Cure and New Order. He said this album was the first time he felt he was able to synthesize much of these sounds and ideas into one.
It was way more free, it was pure freedom of expression and just trying to create whatever world I wanted to with each song. RG
Although the band postponed the rest of their tour for the time being due to increased concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Grote said his connection to music is unlike any other when performing live, linking it to an out of body experience. The act of sweating on stage from dancing and shredding the guitar is a form of escaping himself for a while.
I love being able to really switch into a different dream world after the previous dream world. RG
With nearly 10 years under their belts, The Districts have toured nationally and internationally, hitting countless venues and festivals along the way, but Grote said his most defining moment for the band is a terrible, yet uplifting memory from the show in Quebec City a few years back. They were opening for The Rolling Stones and were not given a sound check before their performance, which forced the band into “panic mode” the entirety of the show. But all in all, it was his favorite performance to date.
The Districts will resume their 2020 American tour later this year with an announcement of new dates in the next coming weeks. Until then, “You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere” can be streamed on all platforms for a tiny bedroom concert session.