A Change is Gonna Come
Talking with The Districts.
By Lindsey Lowe Osborne
One of my favorite questions to ask these bands I chat up each month is this—“How do you think your music has evolved?” I love to hear their perceptions of their tunes and the effort they’ve put into becoming better and making better music. I’ve never had anyone say, “Actually, it’s the exact same as when I got started.” It’s a reminder to me, each month, that forward motion is important. Working hard to do your best—and better your best—is important.
This month’s band, Philadelphia-born The Districts can certainly speak to that since their band was formed in 2009—while they were in high school. In fact, drummer Braden Lawrence graduated a year early in order to get out on the road with the other guys, who were a year older. “We spent most of our free time writing songs and trying to play shows any weird place we could. We started playing in Philadelphia a lot and touring, and eventually we accumulated enough buzz that labels were interested in us. So we finished high school and have been working hard since then,” Lawrence says. “Our music has definitely evolved. We’ve learned a lot musically and have had certain shifts in tastes and been fortunate enough to meet musicians better than us on tours and learn from them. We’re still always trying to keep learning and keeping things fresh.”
They’ve come a long way from their high school sounds (and actually, they came up with the name for their band when Lawrence was in junior high. It stuck.) Now in the process of recording their fourth album, the band’s indie rock sound is definitely keeping things fresh. Their most recent album, 2017’s Popular Manipulations, boasts a more intense sound than what you might identify as indie rock and explores themes of isolation and abandonment—for example, “Capable” examines the emotional aftermath of a divorce.
Lawrence says that they’re excited to head down some new roads for the next album. “We love recording for sure,” he says on splitting their time both recording and touring. “It’s been super fun experimenting with new sounds and ideas and taking songs to new places. A lot of the songs are very different from each other, so we’ve been going through some rabbit holes trying to make a big ole music collage. Very excited to drop some new music!” He says that the band—which is also comprised of Pat Cassidy on guitar, Connor Jacobus on bass, and Rob Grote on vocals and guitar—is also excited to up their film game and put out some impressive music videos for the next album.
For now, though, you can catch them at Iron City alongside Hippo Campus on Nov. 2. They invite you not only to the show, but to take part in that magical thing music offers us—human connection. It’s one of the benefits of that ever-evolving craft, Lawrence says: As they hone their skills, more people can connect to what they’re putting out. And for the band, that’s the important part of playing music. “A big thing for us is that people connect to the music and can hopefully use our albums as some form of escapism or as a coping mechanism,” he says. “I think one of the best parts of doing this is getting emails and messages from people who have been positively affected by our music and hearing that it has helped them through certain hard times.”
*10/20: LEE Bains III & The Glory Fires at The Nick
*11/1: Joy Williams at Workplay
*11/7 Ray LaMontagne at the BJCC Concert Hall