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Behold the amazing, yet true, story of the third/most recent 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 was released on October 22nd, 2012, and people liked it.
"It reflects the band's genuine appreciation for both punk and classic rock, a heritage equal parts the Boss and the Ramones."
"This collection is the band's tightest and most cohesive, and they do so without losing any of the grit. Titus Andronicus has emerged over the past seven years as a formidable punk rock unit—both live and on tape. And whether Stickles likes it or not, he's become somewhat of a modern-day working-class hero. With Local Business, he again does us proud." -PASTE (9/10)
"They play hyper-intelligent and visceral rock 'n' roll from the Garden State that knocks down and reassembles the heritage of New Jersey's past with rambunctious, cerebral aplomb."