The Districts (above) weren’t allowed to hang out with the Tijuana Panthers.
Now don’t get them wrong — The Districts, Pennsylvania by origin, love San Diego. They just wish certain laws weren’t quite so tight-assed.
Singer/guitarist Rob Grote, remembers “playing Soda Bar before we were 21. We played with the Tijuana Panthers, who we didn’t get to hang out with, because we weren’t allowed inside. San Diego is strict as hell about being under 21 in a bar even if you’re playing a show. So we hung out in our minivan all night out front until show time. A homeless gentleman with a pocket flask of whiskey kept rapping this song he was making up to us, and really liked our drummer Braden [Lawrence.]
Of course, it’s not all groan and moan for the foursome. “My favorite [San Diego gig] was probably a time we played the Casbah, which is always great, and spent the following day riding a mechanical bull, and hanging out in Tijuana.”
With three albums and three EPs under their belt, the band laid down the four-song cover EP Lagniappe Session, featuring their takes on Fleetwood Mac (“Walk A Thin Line”), Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (“Souvenir”), Psychic TV (“Godstar”), and of all tunes, “My Cutie,” a treat off the extremely obscure second Shaggs album.
“That song is really catchy,” enthuses Grote, “and simultaneously poppy as hell, while making no sense to my knowledge of music theory. But it is also easier to wrap your head around than some of the other [Shaggs tunes].
The new album, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere, hit March 13. The band wrote it mostly in a bedroom. “There were two bedrooms,” Grote clarifies, “but only because I moved! It wasn’t so much a conscious restriction as much as me being in a pretty wack place and not socializing very much. It was super therapeutic at the time.... I often write songs in my room with an acoustic guitar, but this was the deepest I went recording demos and fleshing them out more than usual.”
Recording shenanigans included breaking out an honest-to-goodness Mellotron at Philadelphia’s Kawari Sound; and taping together actual physical tape loops to run through the Tascam MSR-16.
The Districts were scheduled to play Music Box on April 3. That show has been postponed and a new date hasn’t been named yet. Asked about further down the road, Grote evinces the philosophy of a traveling musician. “Hopefully more records and more tours! Livin’ life, you know.”