The Districts Learn Aussie Slang And Talk Their Debut Album

Written By Krissy Bryant on 07/15/2015

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If you haven’t heard of The Districts, do yourself a favour and get onto that- stat. The band consists of 4 fresh-faced and talented dudes currently residing in Philly, and they’ve been playing up a storm through the US and UK over the past year. To pin them down to just a ‘rock-band’ would be inapt- instead, imagine a melting pot of Americana riffs, blues-inspired progressions, garage fuzz and lyrics that hit you right in the heart. Think of a combination of The Strokes and The War on Drugs.

Prior to their journey over to Australia for Splendour, we chatted to lead singer/guitarist, Robbie Grote, about playing in the UK, performing in a burrito store and even gave him Aussie slang lessons to prepare him for the trip.

Congratulations on the release of your sophomore album A Flourish & A Spoil earlier this year. It’s really great! You guys just wrapped up a three month long tour – how was that!?

It was awesome! We did two months in the US and a month in Europe. That was basically three months straight. Now we’re doing two week runs of festivals- two weeks on tour and a week at home. It’s been great. On the US headlining tour we played a bunch of venues that we never expected to play. We had already opened for some bands in the US but we definitely didn’t expect to be headlining, so that was super exciting.

What was the craziest or funniest thing that happened on your trip?  

There were definitely a lot of them. The coolest was when we had a day off and went to a lake in the middle of the Swiss Alps and we stayed in this hostel and went kayaking – that was definitely the most beautiful. As for funny, there’s too many to count. I mean, just a bunch of dudes hanging out in a van for months on end is bound to have many crazy weird things happening.

What could go wrong, right? You guys have played at some pretty incredible US festivals in the last 12 months – Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo… and the list goes on. I heard that you guys used to play in a burrito store? Did you ever think that something like playing at some of America’s best festivals would become a reality when you were playing at a Burrito Store?

[LAUGHS] Not at all. I always try to describe it as like, it was something we always dreamed of but not a dream that was realistic. I dunno, when someone says they want to be an astronaut, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be an astronaut. You just wish that you could do that, but actually getting on tour and playing these festivals is a dream come true. It feels very surreal – at the end of the day, we’re playing at these really awesome places but we’re still the same people we’ve always been. It kind of just becomes this really strange thing where we’ll play a festival but then a week later we’ll be at home eating chips and salsa and sitting around our house, and it just doesn’t seem like it actually happened. It’s kind of a separate, dream-like part of life.

So you guys are… a little on the youthful side, right? I read that you don’t want to be identified as ‘that young band.’ Why don’t you like that label?

It kind of bothers me because it puts us in some different category. I mean, the Beatles were, like, 18 when they started. So if you work hard, I don’t think age is that big of a deal. Age to talk about is one of those 12 year olds shredding guitar. We’re all 20/21 and we started when we were a bit younger but I just never wanted to be put in a different. It kind of seems like some sort of handicap- Like they’re trying to grade us on an easier scale. We don’t want the benefit of the doubt, we just want to be viewed as any other band. We don’t want to be some kind of cheesy gimmick, being young or something – it doesn’t define anything.

In that sense, people are only going to be that much more impressed when they see you live because your sound is mature well beyond your years, and it’s only going to get better!

Thanks very much!

Let’s chat a bit about your newest album, A Flourish & A Spoil, as I said before, I love it. It feels really raw and honest. Are these all your lyrics? What did you take your inspiration from when writing these tracks?

Yeah they are. I mean, when it comes to subject matter, mostly I try to write about things I’ve experienced. Sometimes it may not be directly my experience, but people I know or things that I’ve seen. Things that moves me or kind of makes me feel something. Probably more than just simple thoughts. I’ve always loved words – whether it be reading or writing them. I’ve just tried to soak up things that I do read or listen to. Same thing with the music, I’ve just tried to make something that’s true to me and giving my honest portrayal of something.

The album was produced by John Congleton who’s worked with some incredible artists. How was it working with him?

It was awesome! We didn’t know him before we started recording, but we had been talking about some ideas whether we would self-produce it or whether we would work with someone. We had loved a few albums done by him, particularly the album by this band Waters and St Vincent. Everything he’s done has been pretty incredible, so he was our first choice. We were like ‘if we’re gonna work with a producer, it’s going to be this guy.’ Luckily it worked out. We didn’t know what to expect but as soon as we got to the studio, we totally clicked. We had a lot of similar tastes in music and similar creative ideas. He helped us hone in on all the things we wanted the album to sound like. Some things were just out of our ability - we don’t know how to mix an album very well, so he helped us accomplish the things we wanted more efficiently and more objectively.

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That’s a really important thing when working with someone. So you guys are heading over to Australia for Splendour in the Grass at the end of the month – have any of you been ‘Down Under’ before?

No, I have a couple of friends that have been there before but I’ve never been. I’m excited.

Just letting you know, we actually don’t refer to Australia as ‘Down Under’. On that note, I’m going to get you a little prepared for your trip. I’ll say some every-day Aussie slang, and you have to tell me what you think it means. You’ll probably need to know these words while you’re here.

EXXY - Exxy? Um, exit?

BOTTLEO – Like, a nice butt? It’s an alcohol store. With bottles. Bottleo. Oh yeah, I get it!

GOON –  Oh like a fool, an idiot? It’s cask wine, the wine in a box. Our invention. Oh we would say that word like, “look at that douchebag, look at that goon”

SICKIE – I’m not going to get any of these [LAUGHS]. A Kangaroo? It’s what you do after a night of goon, which is call in sick for work. [LAUGHS] Okay, okay, okay.

BUMMING A DURRIE – Bum a cigarette? Yes! I got one!

SMOKO - Eating shrimp on the barbie. It’s a break from work to have a cigarette.

Now when you come over to Australia, it’ll be cold, so you’ll have to bring a jumper. Do you use that term in the States?

We don’t, but they do in England, so I know what it means.

In Australia, a jumper’s It’s actually a pouch you carry around to keep all the little joey kangaroos warm when you find them.

Oh! [laughs] No I’m joking! It’s a sweater. [Keeps laughing]

Are there any Australian acts you’re digging at the moment?

There are a few. Tame Impala’s awesome obviously. Courtney Barnett. They’ve blown up over the past year. I like Pond a lot. Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders, we’re playing with them in Australia.

You guys have just announced a massive tour around the States later in the year. Since you guys have been doing a lot of touring together, are there any of you that have really bad habits?

I’ll cop Connor out – he snores a lot. He’s also fallen asleep in the shower, like, three times after a night of drinking. Other than that, we don’t do anything too bad. We all tend to equally smell pretty bad when we’re sitting in the van for hours and whatnot.

So after your tour – what’s next for The Districts? Will we be hearing some new music?

Yeah, we had started to write some stuff and then we had a few months off, but after November we’ll be hanging around home and writing a lot more. We don’t have plans for when we’re going to record yet but we’re definitely going to push hard to try to finish off the next album. I can’t say when, but you’ll definitely be hearing more!

We then got onto talking about Vegemite, and Robbie explained that he didn’t really like it, but he has a taste for Vegemite on pretzels. Put that one on your ‘to-try’ list!

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Catch The Districts at one of their Australian shows

Sun July 26 | Splendour In The Grass | North Byron Parklands

Mon July 27 | Northcote Social Club | Melbourne

Tues | Newtown Social Club | Sydney

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If you haven’t heard of The Districts, do yourself a favour and get onto that- stat. The band consists of 4 fresh-faced and talented dudes currently residing in Philly, and they’ve been playing up a storm through the US and UK over the past year. To pin them down to just a ‘rock-band’ would be inapt- instead, imagine a melting pot of Americana riffs, blues-inspired progressions, garage fuzz and lyrics that hit you right in the heart. Think of a combination of The Strokes and The War on Drugs.

Prior to their journey over to Australia for Splendour, we chatted to lead singer/guitarist, Robbie Grote, about playing in the UK, performing in a burrito store and even gave him Aussie slang lessons to prepare him for the trip.

Congratulations on the release of your sophomore album A Flourish & A Spoil earlier this year. It’s really great! You guys just wrapped up a three month long tour – how was that!?

It was awesome! We did two months in the US and a month in Europe. That was basically three months straight. Now we’re doing two week runs of festivals- two weeks on tour and a week at home. It’s been great. On the US headlining tour we played a bunch of venues that we never expected to play. We had already opened for some bands in the US but we definitely didn’t expect to be headlining, so that was super exciting.

What was the craziest or funniest thing that happened on your trip?  

There were definitely a lot of them. The coolest was when we had a day off and went to a lake in the middle of the Swiss Alps and we stayed in this hostel and went kayaking – that was definitely the most beautiful. As for funny, there’s too many to count. I mean, just a bunch of dudes hanging out in a van for months on end is bound to have many crazy weird things happening.

What could go wrong, right? You guys have played at some pretty incredible US festivals in the last 12 months – Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo… and the list goes on. I heard that you guys used to play in a burrito store? Did you ever think that something like playing at some of America’s best festivals would become a reality when you were playing at a Burrito Store?

[LAUGHS] Not at all. I always try to describe it as like, it was something we always dreamed of but not a dream that was realistic. I dunno, when someone says they want to be an astronaut, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be an astronaut. You just wish that you could do that, but actually getting on tour and playing these festivals is a dream come true. It feels very surreal – at the end of the day, we’re playing at these really awesome places but we’re still the same people we’ve always been. It kind of just becomes this really strange thing where we’ll play a festival but then a week later we’ll be at home eating chips and salsa and sitting around our house, and it just doesn’t seem like it actually happened. It’s kind of a separate, dream-like part of life.

So you guys are… a little on the youthful side, right? I read that you don’t want to be identified as ‘that young band.’ Why don’t you like that label?

It kind of bothers me because it puts us in some different category. I mean, the Beatles were, like, 18 when they started. So if you work hard, I don’t think age is that big of a deal. Age to talk about is one of those 12 year olds shredding guitar. We’re all 20/21 and we started when we were a bit younger but I just never wanted to be put in a different. It kind of seems like some sort of handicap- Like they’re trying to grade us on an easier scale. We don’t want the benefit of the doubt, we just want to be viewed as any other band. We don’t want to be some kind of cheesy gimmick, being young or something – it doesn’t define anything.

In that sense, people are only going to be that much more impressed when they see you live because your sound is mature well beyond your years, and it’s only going to get better!

Thanks very much!

Let’s chat a bit about your newest album, A Flourish & A Spoil, as I said before, I love it. It feels really raw and honest. Are these all your lyrics? What did you take your inspiration from when writing these tracks?

Yeah they are. I mean, when it comes to subject matter, mostly I try to write about things I’ve experienced. Sometimes it may not be directly my experience, but people I know or things that I’ve seen. Things that moves me or kind of makes me feel something. Probably more than just simple thoughts. I’ve always loved words – whether it be reading or writing them. I’ve just tried to soak up things that I do read or listen to. Same thing with the music, I’ve just tried to make something that’s true to me and giving my honest portrayal of something.

The album was produced by John Congleton who’s worked with some incredible artists. How was it working with him?

It was awesome! We didn’t know him before we started recording, but we had been talking about some ideas whether we would self-produce it or whether we would work with someone. We had loved a few albums done by him, particularly the album by this band Waters and St Vincent. Everything he’s done has been pretty incredible, so he was our first choice. We were like ‘if we’re gonna work with a producer, it’s going to be this guy.’ Luckily it worked out. We didn’t know what to expect but as soon as we got to the studio, we totally clicked. We had a lot of similar tastes in music and similar creative ideas. He helped us hone in on all the things we wanted the album to sound like. Some things were just out of our ability - we don’t know how to mix an album very well, so he helped us accomplish the things we wanted more efficiently and more objectively.

That’s a really important thing when working with someone. So you guys are heading over to Australia for Splendour in the Grass at the end of the month – have any of you been ‘Down Under’ before?

No, I have a couple of friends that have been there before but I’ve never been. I’m excited.

Just letting you know, we actually don’t refer to Australia as ‘Down Under’. On that note, I’m going to get you a little prepared for your trip. I’ll say some every-day Aussie slang, and you have to tell me what you think it means. You’ll probably need to know these words while you’re here.

EXXY - Exxy? Um, exit?

BOTTLEO – Like, a nice butt? It’s an alcohol store. With bottles. Bottleo. Oh yeah, I get it!

GOON –  Oh like a fool, an idiot? It’s cask wine, the wine in a box. Our invention. Oh we would say that word like, “look at that douchebag, look at that goon”

SICKIE – I’m not going to get any of these [LAUGHS]. A Kangaroo? It’s what you do after a night of goon, which is call in sick for work. [LAUGHS] Okay, okay, okay.

BUMMING A DURRIE – Bum a cigarette? Yes! I got one!

SMOKO - Eating shrimp on the barbie. It’s a break from work to have a cigarette.

Now when you come over to Australia, it’ll be cold, so you’ll have to bring a jumper. Do you use that term in the States?

We don’t, but they do in England, so I know what it means.

In Australia, a jumper’s actually a pouch you carry around to keep all the little joey kangaroos warm when you find them.

Oh! [laughs] No I’m joking! It’s a sweater. [Keeps laughing]

Are there any Australian acts you’re digging at the moment?

There are a few. Tame Impala’s awesome obviously. Courtney Barnett. They’ve blown up over the past year. I like Pond a lot. Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders, we’re playing with them in Australia.

You guys have just announced a massive tour around the States later in the year. Since you guys have been doing a lot of touring together, are there any of you that have really bad habits?

I’ll cop Connor out – he snores a lot. He’s also fallen asleep in the shower, like, three times after a night of drinking. Other than that, we don’t do anything too bad. We all tend to equally smell pretty bad when we’re sitting in the van for hours and whatnot.

So after your tour – what’s next for The Districts? Will we be hearing some new music?

Yeah, we had started to write some stuff and then we had a few months off, but after November we’ll be hanging around home and writing a lot more. We don’t have plans for when we’re going to record yet but we’re definitely going to push hard to try to finish off the next album. I can’t say when, but you’ll definitely be hearing more!

We then got onto talking about Vegemite, and Robbie explained that he didn’t really like it, but he has a taste for Vegemite on pretzels. Put that one on your ‘to-try’ list!

Catch The Districts at one of their Australian shows

Sun July 26 | Splendour In The Grass | North Byron Parklands

Mon July 27 | Northcote Social Club | Melbourne

Tues | Newtown Social Club | Sydney

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