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The Districts

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Where Is My Mind?: The Districts' Rob Grote

- by Q.D. Tran

I’ve been going back through our earlier posts about The Districts to put together the intro to this interview. It really almost feels like yesterday when I came into the old HotBox Studios to check out our first collaboration together with Lushlife for our Choice/Cuts video series. Matt Smith was excited to show me footage of an in-studio session that they did with a high school band from Central Pennsylvania. Obviously, we now know that they were The Districts, and the video was their performance of “Funeral Beds,” which eventually went viral two separate times on Reddit. Soon after, they were victorious in our bi-monthly Featured Artist(s) Poll. The band also won the hearts of our Deli editors in other cities in the Open Submissions round of our Year End Emerging Artists Poll 2012. In 2013, they spent a lot of their time winning over the Philly music community with each fiery live performance, and then came the big news that the group had signed to well-respected indie label Fat Possum Records. Since then, the floodgates have opened with offers to open for their hometown heroes Dr. Dog at the Electric Factory and tour with Austin rockers White Denim, who they are currently on the road with right now. So it wasn’t really a surprise to us, here at The Deli, when the votes came in, and The Districts unanimously became our Philly Emerging Artist of 2013. We had a chance to chat with frontman Rob Grote, before he left on tour, about the amazing experience that they had last year since moving to Philly, what’s next, and more, which you can check out below!
 
The Deli: How does it feel to just move to Philly and already feel accepted into the music community?
 
Rob Grote: It's been really great! I was just thinking the other night about how awesome it's been. A year ago, we were driving down to Philly many times a month from our hometown to play shows here, and it felt like such a foreign place that we were trying to break into or something. It's been so awesome that people have welcomed us. it feels like home now!
 
TD: What do you think the best advice to give someone would be who just moved here from a smaller place like Lititz, PA?
 
RG: I guess just kind of be open to things, and go to shows and museums, and make friends. It's got a totally different vibe than a small town, but Philly's a small enough city that it feels home-y, and you get to see familiar faces a lot.
 
TD: Your video session with HotBox Studios for “Funeral Bed” went viral and really got the ball rolling for you. What are some of the funniest comments that you’ve seen posted about it?
 
RG: Well, to be honest, after the first surprise about it, we stopped reading them, but there was a lot of hate on greasy hair and Mumford and Sons comments. Haha…we don't listen to them, but they have a lot of quarter note bass drum which that song also has so maybe that's it.
 
TD: You’ve been recording with Bill Moriarty, who has worked with some of your favorite artists like Dr. Dog and Man Man. What is the most important thing that you’ve learned from him that you’ll take with you into the studio moving forward?
 
RG: He really helped us tighten things up. He was really aware of really subtle things we were playing that might not have struck as strongly as they could, which definitely helped us grow musically. 
 
TD: Things have been moving fast for you. What happened in the past year that taught you a valuable lesson about the music business?
 
RG: I'm not quite sure. A lot of it is still kind of confusing and beyond us right now; we're still kind of waiting to see what happens from all of this. I think we'll be able to recognize lessons we've learned from the experience once the cloud of uncertainty settles a bit.
 
TD: You’ve put school off to see how this band thing goes. What were you thinking about majoring in college? What are you doing for day jobs now?
 
RG: I was going to go for English! I think the other guys were planning on starting out undeclared. We're all living off money we'd saved up for the most part right now. We'll probably work some odd jobs once we get a chunk of time after touring.
 
TD: Practically whenever I see you, you are wearing your “College” sweatshirt. Do you love John Belushi or the movie Animal House? Why does the sweatshirt obviously mean so much to you?
 
RG: He was certainly an awesome dude, and that movie's a good one, but honestly, the sweatshirt's just super comfy!
 
TD: You are about to hit the road with White Denim. What’s your favorite part about being on tour?
 
RG: I love getting to see new cities, eat different types of food like po’ boys in NOLA, and meeting tons of cool people and musicians!
 
TD: What are your plans for the rest of 2014 after tour ends?
 
RG: After tour, we're going to hang home for a little, and do some more recording, and then probably hit the road again a good bit before putting out a new full-length sometime late this year!

 

 

will

 
 
 

 

The Districts
The Districts

 

 
 
 




The Deli Philly's Best of 2013 Emerging Artists Poll Winner: The Districts

Deli Nation,

Our Year End Poll for Emerging Philly Artists was - as usual - a painstaking (and somewhat excruciating) process, but we pulled it off with remarkable flair!

Kudos to Americana-rock youngsters The Districts (photo by Harrison Knowles and video by HotBox Studios) for winning the poll! It was pretty obvious that few if any local artists had a better 2013, and things don't seem to be slowing down for the Central PA transplants.

Huge thumbs up to "sex pop" outfit Night Panther and heavy psych rocker Chris Forsyth for placing second and third.

Here is how it all went down: First, we let the local bands submit their music (for free), and got our Deli editors to pick the nominees. Then, we polled a list of 35+ Philly music community experts (our jury) and asked them to nominate 3 more bands of their choice each. Then, we polled our writers and readers. All were invited to participate.

If you'd like to geek-out to all the subtleties related to how this poll works, you can read its rules HERE (happy reading!). But if all you care about is the awesome new music Philly produced in the year 2013, then check out all the fine homegrown acts below. The talent and diversity in our city is astounding! Also, we'd like to give special thanks to our jurors for sharing their personal favorites with us. Enjoy!

List of Jurors: Dan Bisogno (Y-Not Radio, VICE, AEG Live), Jeff Blinder (Spazz Presents), Gabrielle Bonghi (Philly.com), Kate Bracaglia (Philly.com, The Key), Eric Bresler (PhilaMOCA), Zac Camagna (The Styrofoam Drone), Jessica Craft (Rock to the Future), Ryan Crump (Philly Drum Project), Mikele Edwards (Silk City), Nick Fanelli (The Fire, Guild Shows), Stacie George (Live Nation), Kevin Horn (Underground Arts, Bonfire), Ellei Johndro (Shadowscene), Marshall Kavanaugh (Dream Oven, Little Berlin), Kevin Kennedy (The Swollen Fox), Colin Kerrigan (Out of Town Films, Philly.com), Fred Knittel (Folkadelphia, The Key, WXPN), Josh T. Landow (Y-Not Radio), Carolyn Lederach (Sofar, Communion), Barrett Lindgren (Independent Promoter, Johnny Brenda’s), Jesse Lundy (Point Entertainment), Gordon Mays (MilkBoy Philly, Bonfire), Brian McTear (Weathervane Music), Jeff Meyers (The Boot & Saddle, Guild Shows), George Miller (JUMP Philly), Andy Molholt (Independent Promoter), Mark Schoneveld (YVYNYL), Stephanie Seiple (Tri State Indie), Matt Smith (HotBox Sessions), Jon Solomon (WPRB), Q.D. Tran (The Deli Magazine), Pat Troxell (Kung Fu Necktie, Bonfire), John Vettese (The Key, WXPN, City Paper), Nikki Volpicelli (The Key), Chris Ward (Johnny Brenda’s), Bruce Warren (WXPN, Some Velvet Blog, The Key)

BEST OF 2013 POLL FOR EMERGING PHILLY ARTISTS
****** FINAL RESULTS ******
 
ARTIST
J
OS
W
R
TOT
 
1
The Districts
26
 
2
0.012
28.012
2
Night Panther
8
 
3
0.004
11.004
icon
3
Chris Forsyth
8
 
2
0.006
10.006
icon
4
Cruiser
8
 
1
0.01
9.01
icon
5
Commonwealth Choir
9
 
 
0.007
9.007
icon
6
Needle Points
7
 
1
0.019
8.019
icon
7
Waxahatchee
6
 
2
0.01
8.01
icon
8
Hop Along
6
 
1
0.019
7.019
icon
9
Drone Ranger
6
 
1
0.005
7.005
icon
10
Lantern
4
 
2
0.037
6.037
icon
11
Worshyper
4
 
2
0.008
6.008
12
The Bad Doctors
5
 
1
0.005
6.005
icon
 
The Lawsuits
5
 
1
0.005
6.005
icon
14
Cayetana
5
 
1
0.004
6.004
icon
15
Alex G
3
 
1
2
6
icon
16
Our Griffins
3
2
 
0.036
5.036
icon
17
Swearin’
5
 
 
0.008
5.008
18
Little Big League
4
 
1
0.003
5.003
icon
19
Maitland
4
 
1
0.001
5.001
icon
20
Red Martina
 
3
1
0.5
4.5
icon
21
Proexibitors
3
 
1
0.011
4.011
icon
22
Radiator Hospital
1
 
3
0.008
4.008
23
Nothing
2
 
2
0.006
4.006
icon
24
Amanda X
4
 
 
0.005
4.005
icon
25
Modern Baseball
2
 
2
0.005
4.005
icon
26
DRGN King
2
 
2
0.004
4.004
icon
27
Thin Lips
3
 
1
0.003
4.003
icon
28
Brian Fitzy
2
 
 
1.5
3.5
icon
29
Pine Barrons
3
 
 
0.5
3.5
icon
30
Banned Books
3
 
 
0.04
3.04
icon
31
Pill Friends
1
 
2
0.034
3.034
icon
32
Chelsea Sue Allen
3
 
 
0.016
3.016
icon
33
Buried Beds
1
 
2
0.012
3.012
icon
34
Charmaine’s Name
3
 
 
0.008
3.008
icon
35
Gunk
1
 
2
0.006
3.006
icon
36
Break It Up
3
 
 
0.003
3.003
icon
37
Spacin’
1
 
2
0.002
3.002
icon
38
Lushlife
3
 
 
0
3
icon
 
The Wallace Brothers
3
 
 
0
3
icon
 
True Gold
1
 
2
0
3
icon
41
Cheers Elephant
 
1.5
1
0.005
2.505
icon
42
Jackie Paper
2
 
 
0.036
2.036
icon
43
Angela Sheik/Dante Bucci
2
 
 
0.03
2.03
icon
44
Katie Frank
2
 
 
0.03
2.03
icon
45
The Love Club
1
 
1
0.026
2.026
icon
46
Satellite Hearts
1
 
1
0.025
2.025
icon
47
Daddy Long Legs
 
1
1
0.024
2.024
icon
48
Liz and the Lost Boys
2
 
 
0.017
2.017
icon
49
Heathen Reign
2
 
 
0.012
2.012
icon
50
Ali Wadsworth
2
 
 
0.008
2.008
icon
51
Grandchildren
1
 
1
0.006
2.006
icon
52
Harsh Vibes
1
 
1
0.006
2.006
icon
53
Big Tusk
2
 
 
0.005
2.005
icon
 
Work Drugs
2
 
 
0.005
2.005
icon
55
Son Step
2
 
 
0.004
2.004
icon
 
The Interest Group
2
 
 
0.004
2.004
icon
57
Batty
2
 
 
0.003
2.003
icon
 
Gretchen Lohse
2
 
 
0.003
2.003
icon
 
Marian Hill
2
 
 
0.003
2.003
icon
60
Nightlands
2
 
 
0.002
2.002
icon
61
Chill Moody
2
 
 
0.001
2.001
62
Rosu Lup
 
1
 
1
2
icon
63
Weekender
 
1
 
0.032
1.032
icon
64
Chase Allen
1
 
 
0.03
1.03
icon
65
No Other
1
 
 
0.015
1.015
icon
66
Levee Drivers
 
1
 
0.014
1.014
icon
67
Fantasy Panther
1
 
 
0.01
1.01
icon
68
Acres of Diamonds
1
 
 
0.006
1.006
icon
69
Mohican
1
 
 
0.005
1.005
icon
 
Residuels
1
 
 
0.005
1.005
icon
71
JJL
1
 
 
0.003
1.003
icon
72
Divers
1
 
 
0.002
1.002
icon
73
Dreambook
1
 
 
0.001
1.001
icon
 
Market East
1
 
 
0.001
1.001
icon
75
Profligate
1
 
 
0
1
icon
Legend: J = Jurors, W = Deli Writers,
R = Deli Readers, OS = Open Submissions

 

Hope you'll find some awesome new artists that you weren't aware of!

The Deli's Staff





The Deli Philly’s February Record of the Month: The Districts - The Districts

Hot on the heels of signing with Mississippi-based label Fat Possum Records, The Districts have released an eponymous five-song EP. Bookending the record are a pair of new tracks, “Rocking Chair” and “Stay Open,” produced by Bill Moriarty, with three standouts from their self-released LP Telephone - “Lyla,” “Funeral Beds,” and “Long Distance” - sandwiched in between.
 
A swirling guitar pattern punctuated by a touch of percussion lays the foundation for Rob Grote’s vocals in “Rocking Chair,” which are delivered at a quick-hitting yet evolving pace. The guitars and percussion build a rolling tempo, before slowing as Grote momentarily admits, “If I drink some more, well, I think I might drown. Slip into silence as my heart it burns out. Find the devil inside me, and I nail him back down,” capped by a collective exuberant “whew” setting off an abbreviated example of the quartet’s foot-stomping instrumentation. Then, the lyrics take a prophetic twist as Grote emotively utters, “If the devil ever comes around, shiver at the sight…” returning to the collective chorus “Things ain’t what they used to be…” ramping up into an elongated energetic instrumental display including unleashed guitar runs.
 
“Lyla” slows things down creating a more intimate atmosphere befitting the lyrics. The time-placing combination of bass and percussion are accented by acoustic guitar and brightened by touches of organ and strings, while Mark Larson’s clear, distancing slide guitar provides an extra dimension as Grote questions, “Will we ever be what this heart held for you and me? Will we ever be the same?”
 
As the guitar leads into the folk/blues blown harmonica and the “on the move” train-churning percussion, “Funeral Beds” encapsulates an ever-escalating heartbreaking blues. “These great fields are stretching taking me oh so far…” The song winds through a narrative series of lyrics that with each succeeding line seems to dig deeper into Grote ushering a powerfully raw outpouring of emotion, culminating as the full speed ahead instrumentation and his vocals boil over - “And I hate to say I love you, but oh god damn, I love you, you know I do…”
 
“Long Distance” is a slow-burning blues rocker with a ringing guitar that relates the yearning of separated lovers. Grote introspectively opens up offering heartfelt lyrics - “Give me a minute or two to control myself, a minute to get back down to where you are. I just want to come down, and I just want to get back down,to see what this face really means to me.” He continuously pushes the envelope, pulling the heartstrings until they appear ready to snap, questioning, “Long distance, slow time - is it easier?” - ultimately unloading aggression into an instrumental assault before bouncing back to lead the group in an anthem-like sing-along conclusion.
 
The EP closes with “Stay Open,” which bashes the door in with its combination of downhill drums and raucous guitar as Grote croons. As the slide sirens and he exclaims, “Won’t give my love for free!” The song offers an excellent, balanced approach, exemplifying both a natural inclination to exhibit unfiltered feeling, while holding back just enough to orchestrate the polished finish at the song’s end. Grote softly pleads, “Stay open, stay open to catch my fall, what a shame…” backed by the harmonizing “oh my God, falling to pieces, oh my God, falling apart…”
 
The Districts continue to grow and evolve as a group. This EP is both an acknowledgement of their recent past, a snapshot of their present and an indication that the quartet has the makings of an incandescent future. - Michael Colavita
 

The Districts - Funeral Beds by FatPossum

|
February 2014
The Districts
"The Districts
"
mp3
Hot on the heels of signing with Mississippi-based label Fat Possum Records, The Districts have released an eponymous five-song EP. Bookending the record are a pair of new tracks, “Rocking Chair” and “Stay Open,” produced by Bill Moriarty, with three standouts from their self-released LP Telephone - “Lyla,” “Funeral Beds,” and “Long Distance” - sandwiched in between.
 
A swirling guitar pattern punctuated by a touch of percussion lays the foundation for Rob Grote’s vocals in “Rocking Chair,” which are delivered at a quick-hitting yet evolving pace. The guitars and percussion build a rolling tempo, before slowing as Grote momentarily admits, “If I drink some more, well, I think I might drown. Slip into silence as my heart it burns out. Find the devil inside me, and I nail him back down,” capped by a collective exuberant “whew” setting off an abbreviated example of the quartet’s foot-stomping instrumentation. Then, the lyrics take a prophetic twist as Grote emotively utters, “If the devil ever comes around, shiver at the sight…” returning to the collective chorus “Things ain’t what they used to be…” ramping up into an elongated energetic instrumental display including unleashed guitar runs.
 
“Lyla” slows things down creating a more intimate atmosphere befitting the lyrics. The time-placing combination of bass and percussion are accented by acoustic guitar and brightened by touches of organ and strings, while Mark Larson’s clear, distancing slide guitar provides an extra dimension as Grote questions, “Will we ever be what this heart held for you and me? Will we ever be the same?”
 
As the guitar leads into the folk/blues blown harmonica and the “on the move” train-churning percussion, “Funeral Beds” encapsulates an ever-escalating heartbreaking blues. “These great fields are stretching taking me oh so far…” The song winds through a narrative series of lyrics that with each succeeding line seems to dig deeper into Grote ushering a powerfully raw outpouring of emotion, culminating as the full speed ahead instrumentation and his vocals boil over - “And I hate to say I love you, but oh god damn, I love you, you know I do…”
 
“Long Distance” is a slow-burning blues rocker with a ringing guitar that relates the yearning of separated lovers. Grote introspectively opens up offering heartfelt lyrics - “Give me a minute or two to control myself, a minute to get back down to where you are. I just want to come down, and I just want to get back down,to see what this face really means to me.” He continuously pushes the envelope, pulling the heartstrings until they appear ready to snap, questioning, “Long distance, slow time - is it easier?” - ultimately unloading aggression into an instrumental assault before bouncing back to lead the group in an anthem-like sing-along conclusion.
 
The EP closes with “Stay Open,” which bashes the door in with its combination of downhill drums and raucous guitar as Grote croons. As the slide sirens and he exclaims, “Won’t give my love for free!” The song offers an excellent, balanced approach, exemplifying both a natural inclination to exhibit unfiltered feeling, while holding back just enough to orchestrate the polished finish at the song’s end. Grote softly pleads, “Stay open, stay open to catch my fall, what a shame…” backed by the harmonizing “oh my God, falling to pieces, oh my God, falling apart…”
 
The Districts continue to grow and evolve as a group. This EP is both an acknowledgement of their recent past, a snapshot of their present and an indication that the quartet has the makings of an incandescent future. - Michael Colavita

 

 




Free In-store Performance by The Districts & Pizza Brain at AKA Music Jan. 28

Youthful folk rock outfit on the rise The Districts will be celebrating the arrival of its self-titled debut label release via Fat Possum today with a free performance at AKA Music this evening. It will certainly be an intimate affair compared to their upcoming opening slot this Friday, January 31 at the Electric Factory supporting Dr. Dog. They'll also be hitting the road soon with Austin's White Denim to showcase the new EP and their captivating live set. You should probably get to the Old City record store a bit early and hungry because Pizza Brain will providing slices for you too crush. Free music and pizza - that's a win-win in my book! AKA Music, 27 N. 2nd St., 6pm, Free All Ages - H.M. Kauffman

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