Anxiety, frustration and "a lot of real life" - The Districts' new album is born from an unsettled time.
Hey Rob, how’s life?
Hello! Life’s quite good right now, our album is all wrapped up, and we’re about to head out on tour until it’s released, and more touring after that. Looking forward to it. Home life has been really nice as well.
What have you guys been up to since the release of ‘A Flourish and a Spoil’? Has it all been touring and recording?
We toured most of the whole year it was released, and started writing and demoing towards the end of it. 2016 was spent writing, demoing, and a few studio stints here and there. Spent a lot of time figuring our lives out a bit too and just hanging around. A lot of bedroom recording and solitude too.
What was your frame of mind like when you started work on this latest album?
Pretty scattered, to be honest. We had toured for a long time, and it was weird adjusting to being home. I ended a pretty long-term relationship and was in an unsettled mental place aside from that as well. But we were all also very excited about making music and being unrestricted creatively, and a lot of good things happened as well. Writing and recording all took place while a lot of real life was happening to us all I guess you could say. It was a good and maddening process.
Do you find yourselves tonally or thematically influenced by the state of the world? What do you make of the recent election nonsense?
Yeah most definitely, that contributed a whole lot of anxiety and frustration personally and in our whole social circle really. I personally feel very ashamed of our country right now, and guilty devoting so much time to music, when ultimately, the social and political issues concerning a lot of people right now are more dire. But the hope is always that music will connect people, and ideally, that has a positive social influence in and of itself.
So ‘Popular Manipulations’ - is it a hopeful record?
I’d consider it more observant tonally. Lyrically takes a bit of a detached, narrative stance on many of the songs. But there’s definitely the hopeful element of trying to find some personal triumph within oneself.
Are there any topics you’ve covered on the album that are especially close to your heart?
Ahh again, it’s hard to say, because I was thinking a lot about people using each other and manipulating each other which is more of that observant angle. 'Why Would I Wanna Be' is a love song though! I hold the feeling of love close to my heart. For the most part, the writing of this album was a practice of distancing myself from some things.
Where did you record, and did you get up to any shenanigans in the studio?
We recorded a couple of songs with John Congleton in LA, and then self-produced the rest with our friend Keith Abrams engineering at Headroom Philadelphia and Uniform Recording in Philly. We don’t usually get too crazy while recording. Some Thai food and beer maybe, some late nights, an all-nighter or two. We usually just go kind of mad in the studio and get delirious and make a lot of noise.
What are some of the things you learnt during the creation of this album?
We focused heavily on ideas of restraint in arrangements and lyrics at times. Personally, I began to view songwriting and music in a more detached manner, allowing myself to explore different voices and characters freely without feeling restricted to what “The Districts” may or may not be. And we all held confidence in ourselves and our ideas to self-produce a lot of it, something we always have enjoyed.
You’re back in the UK later this year - is there anything you’re especially looking forward to doing while here?
Linda McCartney vegetarian breakfast sausages, veggie English breakfast (love them beans in the morning!), seeing some towns we’ve never been to, and seeing our favourite Exeter residing pal Nicholas Heron!
Taken from the August issue of Dork - order a copy below. The Districts' new album 'A Flourish and a Spoil' is out 11th August.