Pages Navigation Menu

The Districts on Music Making, Reddit Recognition, Touring Times

The Districts, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Crescent Ballroom, Dr. Dog, White Denim, The Thin Bloods,  Northern Hustle, Fat Possum Records, HotBox Sessions, Funeral Beds, Reddit, Mark Larson, Rob Grote, Braden Lawrence, Connor Jacobus, The Districts interview, The Districts tour

From the small town of Lititz, Pa. comes the big sound of The Districts, a four-piece rock band that recently found a label home in Fat Possum Records.

“Hello, we are The Districts! Collectively we are dark, mysterious men,” says the members when asked to introduce themselves. In fact, there’s not much mystery behind the band itself. The young members Rob Grote (guitar, vocals), Mark Larson (gutiar), Connor Jacobus (bass) and Braden Lawrence (percussion) have been playing music together since 2009. At the time, the members were still attending high school but did not allow that small detail to keep them from booking shows and independently releasing two EPs (Kitchen Songs and While You Were in Honesdale) and a full-length album (Telephone).

The Districts received major exposure when its HotBox Session for “Funeral Beds” became Reddit popular…twice, skyrocketing the video’s views on YouTube. The hard work and passion the band displayed culminated with its signing to Fat Possum and the January 2014 release of its self-titled EP, which features two new tracks and three repeat-worthy songs from 2012’s Telephone LP.

The group recently finished its tour with White Denim and will open for Dr. Dog within the coming months. Arizona fans can experience the group’s authentic blend of indie folk and bluesy rock live at Crescent Ballroom on March 24. The show will feature local support from The Thin Bloods and Northern Hustle.

Read The Spec‘s interview with the foursome below and don’t forget to get your tickets to see The Districts live…

What are your musical backgrounds?
We all really enjoyed playing music since we were pretty young, Braden and Connor first started playing guitar and then switched over to the main instruments they play now (drums and bass). Mark started on violin and switched to guitar and Robby started with trumpet and switched to guitar. Overall, music has been a pretty big part of most of our lives whether it was playing in bands or just listening to records.

Of your shared musical influences, which artist(s) do you think have played the biggest impact on your sound as a band?
At first we all had very different preferences when it came to musical influences, however I think the first band we all mutually agreed on was Dr. Dog. After we discovered that, we started noticing that we all could enjoy the same music. It’s really hard to give a specific band because none of us base “The Districts” sound off anyone in particular. I think our sound comes from the combined influences of a lot of different bands that creep into our sound subconsciously. But to name a few, we really enjoy Dr. Dog, Timbre Timbre, My Morning Jacket, Leonard Cohen, SparkleHorse, Tom Waits, The Beatles, Tame Impala, etc.

Describe the typical song-making process for the Districts.
It mostly starts with Robby. He writes the poem and the basic chord progression and the melody to sing over. After that, he then brings the song to the group and that’s when it turns into a Districts song. We all like to write our own parts and then change the structure and the order of the parts, or even add some parts if it’s necessary. And then other times, another member of the band will write a part to a song and it’ll get thrown in somewhere. It’s a pretty organic process that is different every time, but that makes it fun!

How did the HotBox session come to be and did you expect your session to garner so much attention? What was it like finding out that your video went “viral,” even making it to the front page of Reddit?
We found out about HotBox through a band named Toy Soldiers that also has a HotBox session recored, and at the time we didn’t have any videos of ourselves playing other than just homemade clips we filmed with Braden’s camera, so we wanted to set something up with them. We had no idea that it was gonna be this helpful to us at the time, we just wanted to make a video because we thought it would be fun!

As for the Reddit thing, it actually happened twice. The first time it got posted it shot up to 30,000 views, which we didnt believe and thought was an error on YouTube. I still don’t think it’s sunk in yet, it’s still all really surreal. And then a year or so later, it got posted again to Reddit and that’s when it really blew up. If we knew this many people were gonna be watching that video, we probably would have made an extra effort to be less sweaty!

You guys recently signed with Fat Possum, how does it feel to be signed? Who are some of your favorite artists on the label’s roster?
It’s really nice, prior to being on a label we had been hearing a lot of horror stories about labels not caring about you and all that, but working with Fat Possum has been great! Ever since we signed with them things have been progressing faster than we had ever thought it would, and what is really great is they listen to our opinions and make sure everything that goes on is OK with us first. It’s cool being on the same label that The Walkmen and The Felice Brothers were on.

2014 has already been a busy year with the EP release and touring, what other big projects or career goals do you have set for the year?
Well, we are actually still recording so it’s still a big project for us, were trying to make the best album possible so we’re using all our options right now. We’re also really exciting to head to the UK at the end of April to play a couple festivals.

You guys were just on tour with White Denim and will play with Dr. Dog soon, which other artists (dead or alive, touring or not) would you love to play alongside?
The tour with White Denim was amazing! Those dudes were incredibly nice and extremely talented. And we are also super stoked to be opening for Dr. Dog for a week in June. Braden’s dream band to open for is Modest Mouse.

For those who haven’t seen you perform live, what can they expect to experience at a show? Do you have any pre-show rituals or “musts” on your backstage rider?
We like moving around and giving off a lot of energy on stage. There have been a couple times when people have come to our shows expecting us to be a little more quiet and laid back than we really are. We enjoy being energetic! As for backstage riders, we probably should start utilizing that more, all we have on it so far is a case of water and a meal for each of us. When we were on tour with White Denim it was great because they let us raid all their food after they were done with it.

Have any of you ever been to Arizona? Anything in particular you hope to see or do while in Phoenix?
This will be the first time to Arizona so we don’t know what to expect. We hear they have some really good iced tea. We’re really excited to play in Phoenix though, should be super fun!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *