Interview Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus released their debut album ‘The Airing Of Grievances’ in the UK this week, and they’re soon to head over here on a short UK tour, so a good time to have a chat with them? We thought so. Patrick Stickles tells us a bit about what they’re up to, and what they have planned.

Titus Andronicus

released their debut album ‘The Airing Of Grievances’ in the UK this week, and they’re soon to head over here on a short UK tour, so a good time to have a chat with them? We thought so. Patrick Stickles (vocals, guitar, keyboard, harmonica) tells us a bit about what they’re up to, and what they have planned.

Hello Titus Andronicus! How are you today? How’s your tour with Los Campesinos! going?
Hello. We are doing very well today. We are hanging out at a public library in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Being on tour with Los Campesinos! is a wonderful adventure and they are lovely people who are a joy to spen time with.

After this lot of dates you’ll be coming to Europe to do a few shows over here - will you be doing any touristy things on your tour?
Well, being on tour really must be the most touristy thing of all, right? I think it is more likely we will spend most of our days inside some sort of moving vehicle and most of our nights in some kind of dreary nightclub. With all that, I can’t imagine that there will be much time to go to the Eifel Tower or whatever.

Your debut album, ‘The Airing Of Grievances’, was released in the UK this week. Judging by your lyrics, you seem to have an awful lot of grievances. Do you prefer writing/playing music slightly sombre in nature, or is the theme more for the benefit of the album as a whole?
What need would there be to create if everything was just as you prefer? Why celebrate something that you like in song? If there is something that makes you happy, you should be out enjoying it, not farting around with a guitar, in my opinion, anyway, whereas when something is making you upset or frustrated and there is little that you can do about it, there sometimes seems to be little recourse besides the aforementioned farting around.

Was it difficult making an album that tackles death, pain, shame, hopelessness and the like, but that isn’t depressing? Was it a concern you had whilst writing/recording?
Herman Melville once said something to the effect of that writing ‘Moby Dick’ was his way of purging himself of the evil that was within him, and that sounds just about right to me. Is it not better that we expunge the darker elements of our humanity by singing, rather than by, say, burning down a church or something? If anything, all the screaming and carrying on about how terrible everything is had the effect of being very uplifting, very cathartic. As I continue to harp about these same themes night after night, I find that it allows me to be much more positive and upbeat on a day to day basis. Thanks to all this rock and roll business, I feel that I am not in danger of exploding, as I have sometimes felt in the past. Great stuff, this rock and roll.

Have you started work on your second album yet? Do you have any ideas as to how you want it to sound?
The songs for our next record are almost all done, maybe 85% of the way there or so, but we don’t have any concrete plans to actually make said record, so it may be a little premature to start talking about what it is going to sound like, though I do spend a lot of time thinking about it. Questions about our next album really should be directed at our masters at the record company.

Often an album is reviewed largely in the context of previous work from the authoring band - to what extent do you think this is fair? Does it taint later efforts?
Evaluating an album, which is supposed to be a singular artistic statement, in the greater context of an artist’s catalogue probably is pretty unfair, but inevitable and something that I do constantly. Without naming any names, often I will listen to a lesser album by a band who made an album I really do enjoy and wonder why I am not just listening to the album which is my favorite. Even though perhaps it is perfectly good, the fact that it is inferior to something else will make it appear worse than it actually is. The sad fact is that no piece of art exists in a vacuum and evaluating it strictly on its own merits is almost impossible.

So, apart from releasing the album and touring, what’ll you be getting up to in 2009?
Probably nothing. If you’re not playing, you’re paying, as Mike Watt used to say.

And finally, what bands should we be keeping an eye on this year?
There is an amazing band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA called Spider Bags who are going to be putting out the best album you have ever heard in March. It is called ‘Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World’ and it is a true embarassment of riches. Also around that same time, another really great band from Boston called Hallelujah the Hills is going to put out an album called ‘Colonial Drones.’ This should also be a very big year for the So So Glos, Real Estate, and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, if there is any justice. We’ll see, I guess.

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