MOKB & Live Nation Present
502 North New Jersey St
Indianapolis, IN, 46204
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
This event is all ages
Fifteen years and seven studio albums into a career hovering at the edges of the music business, fighting for a seat at the table, Ron Pope is now in the midst of flipping that table over. It took a decade to become an overnight success. Hundreds of millions of streams, millions of singles sold, concerts packed out into the street all over the world; all of a sudden Ron Pope is part of the discussion. “At the very least, now I don’t really have to give a shit what anyone in the business expects from me. That’s pretty liberating. It’s like ‘Everyone’s making music that sounds like such and such this year’ and I can say ‘Cool. I don’t give a fuck; my fans just want me to do something good and they’ll stick with me as long as what I record is real and honest and full of songs that are worth listening to. So I’m just gonna keep doing what I do.’ That’s the freedom that holding onto my independence for so long and finding real success has bought me” Pope says from the East Nashville office of Brooklyn Basement Records, the label he runs alongside his wife and manager, Blair Clark.
For his newest album “Work,” Pope once again co-produced with Grammy Award winner Ted Young (The Rolling Stones, Grace Potter, Sonic Youth). The duo decided to record in Nashville at Welcome to 1979, an analog-centric studio. For Pope, this album marked his first recorded to tape. “It forced us to make choices. Digital recording allows you to do a limitless amount of takes. In the past, we could do five or ten takes of everything and pick and choose, but on this record, if we wanted to record another take of something, we often had to erase what was already there. Those decisions influenced us to play like we meant it on every take. Our friend Charles Ray, who’s my favorite trumpet player, came in to help on the record and what you hear on ‘Dancing Days’ is his first take, no editing, no fixing, no reconsidering. That’s just what he played and we all just yelled ‘Next’ and moved on! The spontaneity and looseness flavored this album in a way that feels really exciting and new to me.”
“On some of these songs, you can hear Nashville. On others, we’re walking down the street in New Orleans giving away beers to strangers, or I’m down on the Florida panhandle at 19 arguing with a frat boy when my blood ran a little hotter than it does now, or I’m back home in Georgia playing the bars I grew up in or singing quiet songs in my bedroom, looking back and looking forward; you find us a lot of places on this record.”
The concept for this album came into existence one afternoon in Texas. “The boys and I were playing a daytime party in Austin, packed into the corner of this little bar on the east side of the city. Everybody was on top of each other, sweating through our boots, amps turned up, day-drunk. The horn players were almost touching the drummer; the stage was so small that the guitar players and the keys were on the floor. We only played for about an hour, but we murdered that gig! I was playing guitar solos on my tiptoes, dancing with the people who were standing in front of me; they were sweating on us, we were sweating on them, it was madness! It felt like when I was back playing the bars as a kid. The only difference was, we were just playing my songs (and people actually wanted to hear them). I wondered what it would be like to make a record that was driven primarily by those kind of songs, tunes that your favorite bar band could play, that felt new but somehow also familiar. And that’s what this new record ‘Work’ is all about.”
“All of the best characters from my own life pop up on this record; girls who burned me down and threw the ashes out the window as they drove away, the 7th grade teacher who told my mother that I’d end up in prison, my father who usually speaks in parables like the Bible, Grandpa who’s taught me a lot about how to grab life by the throat, different versions of me, both from today and as a much younger, more dangerous version of myself, my stupid friends of course, my brother who keeps me honest…the gang’s all here. Some of it is serious, some of it is playful, but all of it is honest. Whether I’m screaming over booming Memphis flavored horns or whispering an acoustic love song, I’m just trying to tell you who I am and what’s on my mind without any bullshit.”
"We ended up using a bunch of the rough mixes that I put together in the studio; they just captured the vibe right and I didn't want to over-mix and ruin it. Sometimes ‘better’ is the enemy of ‘good’ or whatever that expression says,” Ted Young commented.
“Paul Hammer and I sat down to write but we’d gotten as drunk as two shithouse rats the night before and were the worst versions of ourselves that morning. He looked like he might cry or fall asleep at any moment and I could barely sit upright. We started talking about how we can’t really drink like we used to, but we’re not ready to hang up our dancing shoes just yet and before you know it, ‘Dancing Days’ was born. There’s lots of little snapshots like that, from different moments in my life all over this record. Like the song says, I’m just gonna keep on dancin’. I’m dying to put these songs on wheels and get out on the road to work up a sweat with the fans every night.”
Ages and Ages is more than a band. It’s a collective of like-minded souls that believe in the power of music to change the world and elevate the spirit. Their music is bright and uplifting, with lyrics, penned by bandleader Tim Perry, that deliver serious introspective messages full of insight and consideration for others.
“When we made this album, we wanted a word to describe how we felt and what we were going through as individuals and a band,” Perry says, “so we made one up. ‘Divisionary’ signifies a group whose vision of ‘right’ is upsetting to the existing power structure. It includes a philosophical, spiritual, and physical ‘breaking off’ from the status quo. It also references the individual inner conflicts that arise as you struggle to make the right choices in life. Visionaries don’t always create conflict, but they challenge the establishment with new ideas and with the threat of change. Where there is change, there is usually resistance, controversy, division.
“The songs on our first album, Alright You Restless, described a group of people leaving a selfish, destructive society for a place safe from the madness. That was like starting a band, wanting to establish new rules and a language to put some distance between themselves and the noise outside. Those songs were optimistic, energetic and self-righteous because that’s how a group of people who broke off from society would feel. As the group faces the struggles of actually making their community work, reality sets in and things get more complicated. Divisionary details the second phase of the journey.”
Alright You Restless was made in eight days of feverish creativity. Divisionary evolved over months of experimentation at Portland’s Jackpot Studios with veteran producer Tony Lash (Elliott Smith, The Dandy Warhols, Eric Matthews), as well as the home studio of Ages bass player Rob Oberdorfer. During the process, the band suffered the loss of a number of close family members and dear friends, so the songs became a kind of road map for anyone attempting to avoid darkness, without becoming consumed by anger in the face of life’s difficulties. “There were also great things happening,” Perry adds. “One of us had a child, another got married. Life was tipping both ends of the scale; there were a lot of changes going on.”
Perry spent ten days on a silent meditation retreat, formulating the direction of Divisonary, and his calm, centered vision is at the core of the music. The intricate harmonies, celebratory choral vocals, churchical piano and organ, inventive counter melodies, bright acoustic guitars, and exciting, interlocking rhythms set off aural fireworks to frame the grounded emotions conveyed in the lyrics.
The title track, “Divisonary (Do The Right Thing),” is a secular gospel song with inspirational harmonies, sanctified piano and smooth violin adding muscle to a simple refrain: “Do the right thing, do the right thing….don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering.” A stomping, exuberant bass drum pushes the giddy pop vocals of “I See More,” as it reassures listeners that, “It’s all OK, I’ll be on your side.” The jaunty folk pop of “Big Idea” holds a flickering candle up to the darkness with intricate handclapping, gentle harmonies and the candid admission that, “All of my ins are on the outside. And I want you all to notice, cuz I have no will to hide.”
On “Over It,” acoustic guitars played in open tunings dance across a complex musical landscape to Eastern melodies and counter melodies, leading to the group declaring over a swaying 6/8, “I have no remorse for the way that I am anymore. No, I feel no shame.” The band’s funky hand clapping folk rock rhythms move “The Weight Below” as Perry and the band belt out a soaring chorus to release the feelings that cause stress and suffering. “And the weight that we left behind, we’re all better off without it, and it ain’t even worth our time, so I ain’t gonna worry about it.” The complex structure of “Light Goes Out,” bounces along on a stomping bass line, bright, piano shenanigans and the band’s joyously dislocated vocals: “I kept up with the verses in my head, running right along beside ‘em all day. At some point, well I found myself wondering if I was even running or just running away.”
The harmonies and intricate instrumental interplay on Divisionary are carefully crafted, but never sound forced, with complex arrangements that are naturalistic, invigorating and free. The clash between the band’s stirring folkadelic sounds and emotionally thorny subject matter makes for a bracing listen, “as if the internal conflict is happening in real time,” Perry says.
“We live in a country where a substantial amount of the population would rather discard science than admit climate change is happening. A culture which, more and more, considers higher education to be some kind of liberal indoctrination. A culture that does not value critical thinking and a power elite that perpetuates misinformation, apathy, and ignorance because it preserves the status quo. I don’t blame people for feeling daunted, apathetic, powerless, and overwhelmed, but I believe that facing the darkness is a necessary step in overcoming it.”
“Ultimately I think the band all feels hopeful and blessed,” Perry concludes. “These songs reflect that optimism, but they don’t do so lightly or try to dodge the struggles we’re dealing with individually and as a band. It was an exceptionally long, hard road this time around but in the end, we’re all really proud and excited to share this record.”
Ages and Ages is: Rob Oberdorfer – Bass, vocals Tim Perry – guitar, vocals John McDonald – guitar, vocals Levi Cecil – drums, vocals Becca Shultz – keys, vocals Annie Bethancourt – percussion, vocals Sarah Riddle – percussion, vocals