The Bowery Ballroom
Archers of Loaf

Archers of Loaf

Titus Andronicus, Sun Ladders

Sun, April 29, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY


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Archers of Loaf
Archers of Loaf
The Archers of Loaf were darlings of the indie world in the early to mid-‘90s, thanks to an off-kilter sound that was edgy and challenging, yet melodically accessible at the same time. Cornerstones of the Chapel Hill, NC, indie scene that also spawned Superchunk and Polvo, the Archers’ chief inspirations were the Replacements and Sonic Youth, but that only began to tell the story. Their music was frequently likened to a more intense, raucous version of Pavement’s postmodern pop, and indeed they shared key elements: fractured song constructions, abstractly witty lyrics, clangorous guitars, and lo-fi production. More rooted in punk and noise rock, however, the Archers took the dissonance, white noise, and angularity to greater extremes, and played with more overt commitment and enthusiasm in concert. The Archers became a hip name to drop with their acclaimed 1993 debut, Icky Mettle; several more accomplished albums followed before the group called it quits in 1998.

The Archers of Loaf were formed in Chapel Hill in 1991, when all four members were attending the University of North Carolina. Coincidentally, they’d all grown up in Asheville, in the western part of the state, but hadn’t all gone to the same schools. Singer/guitarist Eric Bachmann, guitarist Eric Johnson, bassist Matt Gentling, and drummer Mark Price cut an independently released single, “Wrong,” that helped them land a contract with the California-based indie label Alias (also home to releases by American Music Club and Yo La Tengo). Another single, “Web in Front,” became a substantial hit on college radio in 1993, creating a strong buzz for the group’s full-length debut. Icky Mettle arrived later in the year to highly positive reviews and more alternative-radio airplay, and the Archers supported it with an extensive national tour.

A five-song concept EP, Archers of Loaf vs the Greatest of All Time, arrived on the heels of Icky Mettle in 1994. Amid growing media attention, Madonna’s Maverick label made a play for the band, but they elected to continue developing on an independent, with lower commercial stakes. Their second album, the rawer and noisier Vee Vee, appeared in 1995 and was an even bigger college-radio hit, thanks in part to the single “Harnessed in Slums.” The album landed in the CMJ Top Five, and even got some press from the hipper mainstream media outlets. In its wake, Eric Bachmann convened the Chapel Hill side project Barry Black, an eclectic, mostly instrumental outfit given to bizarre arrangements; their eponymous first album was also released in 1995.

Meanwhile, the Archers compiled a raft of non-LP indie singles, B-sides, alternate takes, and live cuts for 1996’s The Speed of Cattle. Their proper third album, All the Nation’s Airports, came out later that year and showed the band moving into quieter, more layered territory. Bachmann’s second album with Barry Black, Tragic Animal Stories, arrived in 1997, as did the live Archers of Loaf EP Vitus Tinnitus. The band’s fourth proper album, 1998’s White Trash Heroes, continued its exploration of calmer, more spacious sounds, and began to incorporate keyboards and samples. However, their marathon touring commitments were contributing to a sense of stagnation within the group. After the supporting tour for Heroes, the Archers decided to call it quits. A live album recorded at that tour’s Chapel Hill show, Seconds Before the Accident, was released posthumously in 2000. Bachmann moved on to the folkier Crooked Fingers, which issued the first of several albums in 2000.
Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus
Behold the amazing, yet true, story of the third Titus Andronicus LP, LOCAL BUSINESS.

It begins with a plan of action. While the first two LPs were elaborate concoctions, requiring the contributions of 30+ musicians, the most advanced computer wizardry and transmissions from an alternate universe, LOCAL BUSINESS would be of the earth, the handiwork of a living and breathing entity. No more would Titus Andronicus the studious recording project and Titus Andronicus the raucous touring machine be two distinct beings; there would only be Titus Andronicus, rock and roll band.

At the center of the band remained, as ever, singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles. Flanking him was the dynamic duo of Eric Harm on drums and Julian Veronesi on bass, rhythm section and principal backup singers. Returning to the fold was recent college graduate Liam Betson on guitar, whose studies kept him off the road but not away from the recording of the first two LPs. Rounding out the band was the latest addition, guitarist extraordinaire, and founder of Brooklyn DIY haven Shea Stadium, Adam Reich, moving gracefully from the position of live sound engineer to band member following the abrupt departure of keyboardist David Robbins.

With an album’s worth of new songs in their pocket, Titus Andronicus took to the road in March of 2012, hashing out their new material night after night on tour, throughout the eastern United States and at the SXSW music conference. It would be the energy of the stage that they would strive to recreate in the studio.

The studio in question was New Paltz, NY’s Marcata Recording, domain of master producer and engineer Kevin McMahon, whose credits include the first two Titus Andronicus LPs. Beginning on April 1st, the rare confluence of Palm Sunday and April Fool’s Day, the converted barn became the band’s home for the next two months. The first phase of recording found the band amassing hundreds of performances, playing together without headphones, three guitars strong, day in and day out, striving in pursuit of “the perfect take.” A lengthy selection process followed, where the takes deemed most worthy of preserving for the ages were chosen. On top of these were placed much singing, still more guitars, and the contributions of an elite group of special guests – longtime Titus session keyboardist Elio DeLuca, famed violinist and string arranger to the stars Owen Pallett, and Eric’s father, Steven Harm, blowing on a harmonica. This tight-knit group is just one of the meanings behind the phrase LOCAL BUSINESS. By the end of June, Kevin McMahon completed the mixing, and the mastering of the world famous Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound capped off the whole process.

But what of the songs themselves? While abandoning the linear narrative of The Monitor, the songs of LOCAL BUSINESS aim to make explicit the implications of the first two LPs, that the inherent meaninglessness of life in an absurd universe gives the individual power to create their own values and their own morality. This individual is celebrated throughout LOCAL BUSINESS’s ten songs, though surrounded by a world that pressures endlessly to consume and to conform. The title LOCAL BUSINESS speaks to this anti-consumerist agenda, but fear not; the contradiction of the LP as a consumer product speaking against consumerism will be discussed at length therein. LOCAL BUSINESS should also indicate an interest in contemporary affairs, moving away from the historical content of The Monitor. Along the way, we witness a devastating automobile wreck, a food fight (that is to say, a battle with an eating disorder), an electrocution, a descent into insanity, and ultimately, a forgiveness of the self for its many faults. Titus Andronicus even finds time to broaden its emotional palette to include moments of pure positivity, brief respites from the usual doom and gloom.

LOCAL BUSINESS will be released on October 22nd, 2012. The release will be followed by a tour of the United States, which too shall be unique in the history of Titus Andronicus, as the band taking the stage every night will be the same band which made the record being promoted. So shall the story be complete, from tour to studio to tour again, the same band of brothers executing a singular vision. Five men, ten songs, no bullshit. LOCAL BUSINESS.
Sun Ladders
Sun Ladders
Sun Ladders is a Brooklyn, NY, rock band getting back to the basics of being a rock band, writing straightforward songs about love, loss, escape and the bars they work in.

Sun Ladders are the songs of Rob Hampton (ex-Band of Horses) who as a kid was introduced to a diverse background of music through the late night television of 120 Minutes, his older brother's Columbia House cassette subscription, his high school years in early 1990s Louisville, KY, and his post-high school years in the late 1990s Seattle music scene.

After spending the last five years in New York and losing various collaborators (to marriage, babies, jobs, other bands and escapes from New York) Sun Ladders is now Hampton (guitar, vocals), Johnathan Swafford (bass), Alan O'Keeffe (guitar), and Christian Rutledge (drums). All veterans of the realities of playing in a rock band in New York City—where the first hurdle to playing music is the fact you live in New York City.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211