AND THE KIDS
“You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere is an unachievable promise,” says The Districts bandleader Rob Grote. “It’s about a dream for love to last forever and a yearning to postpone death. It is about wanting to escape everyday life while also craving time with one who’s present. It’s a plea to remain the same in the face of constant change, and the certainty of going nowhere fast.” Written after playing nearly 200 shows over two years in support of their 2017 album, Popular Manipulations, The Districts’ fourth full-length You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere almost never arrived.
As they began to contemplate a new album, Grote and his longtime bandmates Pat Cassidy (guitar), Connor Jacobus (bass), and Braden Lawrence (drums) faced a transitional period that was painful for both personal and professional reasons, and found themselves fatigued and disoriented as a group. Grote also felt dysphoric from the anxiety-provoking state of the world today, while facing a daily battle with the dire health problems of his beloved dog. The Districts were forced to rethink everything.
“This album was written as an escape and as reassurance. I was falling in love with someone new and trying to juggle this desperate desire to escape with the need to show up in my life. It’s pretty damn hard to be present and completely checked out all at once,” Grote explains. “It felt like much of my world had reached such a pitch that all I could do was try to tune it out. I felt really uncertain about the future of the band and super detached from much of what I used to identify with, on a personal level and with our music. I was thinking, ‘Do I want to keep doing music?’ ‘Do I want to keep doing it in this context?’”
Grote retreated to his bedroom and started writing with no objective other than to create. Free from expectations, and with an acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and drum machine at hand, he discovered a newfound creative freedom. “Originally, I had no intention of them even being a record. It was strictly a process of trying to connect to something outside of and larger than myself—kind of this rocky imbalance of isolating myself while trying to maintain connections as time rushed on. There was a lot of back and forth between working as a group and not feeling capable of doing that,” reflects Grote. “I ended up taking these recordings super far along, whereas normally I would almost compulsively share them with my bandmates as soon as I had an idea. This time I was sitting on them and putting work into them in a way that I hadn’t known I enjoyed doing.”
He ended up with a batch of 32 songs; but, these songs didn’t sound like ‘The Districts.’ Yet to his surprise, when Grote later played early demos for his bandmates, they loved them. Turns out these were Districts songs, and the Philadelphia-based band later decamped to a cabin in Red Hook, N.Y., where they recorded and produced the lion’s share of the album themselves alongside frequent collaborator Keith Abrams.
While You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere builds on preceding albums, it takes an ambitious leap to a new level, exhibiting a widened sense of experimentation and expansiveness at its heart. There’s Rhodes, Mellotron, strings, samples, drum machines, tape loops, Wurlitzer, “ambient swells,” piano, synthesizers; Grote lists 12 instruments next to his name alone. Airy and understated, discordant and exuberant, and earnest all at once, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere is the culmination of The Districts’ growth and maturation through milestones and setbacks alike.
Since their earliest days as a band, And The Kids have embodied the wayward freedom that inspired their name. “When Rebecca and I were teenagers we just lived on the streets and played music, and people in town would always call us kids—not as in children, but as in punks,” says Mohan. On their third full-length When This Life Is Over, the Northampton, Massachusetts-based four-piece embrace that untamable spirit more fully than ever before, dreaming up their most sublimely defiant album yet.
The self-produced follow-up to Friends Share Lovers—a 2016 release acclaimed by NPR, who noted that “Mohan’s striking vocals rival the vibrato and boldness of Siouxsie Sioux…[And The Kids] make music that’s both fearless and entertaining”—When This Life Is Over unfolds in buzzing guitar tones and brightly crashing rhythms, howled melodies and oceanic harmonies.
The origins of And The Kids trace back to when Mohan and Lasaponaro first met in seventh grade. After playing in a series of bands throughout junior high and high school (sometimes with Averill on bass), the duo crossed paths with Miller in 2012 when the three interned at the Institute for the Musical Arts in the nearby town of Goshen. Once they’d brought Miller into the fold, And The Kids made their debut with 2015’s Turn to Each Other and soon headed out on their first tour. “At one of the shows on that tour, a burlesque act opened for us at a place in Arkansas,” Mohan recalls. “And then another time on tour, we crashed at a friend of a friend’s house, and there was a pot-bellied pig sleeping on the couch. That’s what nice about staying at people’s houses on the road: you never know what you’re gonna see.”