Titus Andronicus goes hi-fi
The band's new album reaches to the Civil War for inspiration.
Most musicians can be placed into a particular genre. Nirvana? Grunge. Bob Marley? Reggae. But it's rare when a band is unclassifiable and even rarer when a band doesn't want to be classified.
"It's annoying to be put into any kind of a box," Titus Andronicus front man Patrick Stickles said.
In the past, Titus Andronicus has been called punk, shoegaze and most recently lo-fi, which is something Stickles said he plans to change.
"It sucked to work really hard on our first record and have everyone say it was recorded in a bathroom," Stickles said. "We spent a fuckload on recording this time. People don't seem to understand that because a guitar is distorted, it isn't recorded on a tape recorder."
Titus Andronicus released its second studio album, The Monitor, on March 9. The album is ripe with Civil War themes (including the album's title and cover art, which were taken from the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor) and features numerous voice cameos from friends and a couple "hired guns" acting as historical figures.
"We pretty much just asked anybody who was our friend," Stickles said. "All the ones that said yes ended up contributing, ultimately manipulating them to serve our selfish purposes."
Stickles said The Monitor is shooting for a "hi-fi punk" sound and though the album leaked in January, he isn't too worried about its sales.
"Had it not leaked, I would have been moping about how nobody cared about it," Stickles said. "To me, this is 2010, and God knows I have stolen my fair share of music from the Internet, so I can't complain."
The band originally hails from New Jersey, though the members are now scattered around the East Coast.
"Though I have taken myself out of Jersey, I can never take New Jersey out of me," Stickles said.
(And no, he does not watch "Jersey Shore.")
"That is a part of Jersey's identity for better or for worse," Stickles said. "I guess you could call it 'Jerseyploitation.' That isn't the Jersey that I love."
Although the band has only released two studio albums, its line-up has changed numerous times. Stickles said he doesn't know how permanent the current one is.
"I've kind of given up guessing on that," Stickles said. "Every line-up in the past I have thought is going to be permanent. It's tough to get all those ducks in a row."
This line-up will be touring the U.S. through April, starting with a string of in-store record shop appearances with a stop March 14 at Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis. Stickles said he would hate to see the day when a kid could only go to Walmart to buy an album.
"The record store thing is our way of stacking our chips on small businesses," Stickles said. "I think the record stores are very important to the communities that they service."
For a band that has been called many things, Stickles insists he doesn't care what people call it, just as long as they like the music. For now, he said he is going to sit back and trust the process of being in a band.
"We have to remember that we are all riding on the winds of destiny," Stickles said.
That's pretty deep coming from the front man of a lo-fi New Jersey punk band.