Titus Andronicus wants you to support your local merchants this holiday season and beyond.
The indie rock-punk band with Glen Rock roots last month released its third CD, “Local Business.” The album title carries several meanings, including singer-guitarist-lyricist Patrick Stickles’ lament of big box and chain stores forcing out traditional downtown establishments.
“Glen Rock used to have a lot of local businesses, but they’re starting to disappear,” said Stickles, who graduated Glen Rock High School in 2004 and now lives in New York. “There were some benevolent institutions and then some new chains, like Subway, moved in and forced them to close.
“I think about the coffee shop that we used to have and Starbucks moved in and that was the end,” he said. “Local businesses do need a lot of help. The corporate ogre is very strong.”
The band has been doing its part to help mom-and-pop stores through its Local Business Forever initiative. On its website and through twitter, Titus Andronicus on its current tour has been informing and inviting fans in cities where they’ve played to visit and share information about local record stores, restaurants and other shops.
The tour wraps up with this weekend with a sold out show on Saturday at Maxwell’s in Hoboken and a performance on Sunday at Webster Hall in Manhattan (tickets still available). Titus Andronicus is rounded out by Glen Rock native Liam Betson on guitar, bassist Julian Veronesi, drummer Eric Harm and guitarist/keyboardist Adam Reich.
“Local Business” represents a significant musical shift for Titus Andronicus. The new album features only the core band. On its previous efforts, Titus Andronicus worked with more than 30 musicians to create a dense, swirling sound that included everything from violins and trumpets to sleigh bells and bagpipes.
“It was sort of a reactionary measure,” Stickles said of Titus Andronicus stripping down its sound. “We were trying to do something different from the last record (2010's "The Monitor). The last one was very fancy and dressed up and to try to make a record like that again would be quite silly.”
Stickles said the band has always toured as a quintet but now does not have to worry about rearranging new tracks for the live show.
Nor has the band’s sound suffered. While “Local Business” is more straightforward than previous efforts, it’s just as intense, with Stickles’ raw and urgent vocals driving an album’s worth of standout tracks. The best include “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus,” which adds pop-sensibility to the band’s punk rock, and the eight-minute epic, “My Eating Disorder.”
Stickles’ philosophical lyrics explore the place of art and individuality in a consumer-driven society. Ironically, the album conveys the message that only when the individual realizes the absurdity and meaninglessness of life can they start to create their own values and morality.
“It’s a very empowering belief,” said Stickles, an existentialist who majored in literature and minored in philosophy at Ramapo College in Mahwah. The lyrics also allows for some optimism, specifically on “(I Am The) Electric Man,” which was nowhere to be found on the band’s previous albums.
“It’s just trying to go for a broader emotional pallet,” Stickles said. The first two records were kind of gloom and doom all the time. It’s good to widen the spectrum.”
“Local Business” has received favorable critical reviews, and the band’s visibility has been on the upswing. Titus Andronicus previewed the album on National Public Radio’s World Café program. In June, the band opened for Metallica at the metal mega-stars’ Orion Festival in Atlantic City.
“I like NPR and have it on in the car,” Stickles said. “It’s like a chatty, non-demanding friend. You always want to be seen and heard and open yourself up to new audiences.”
More Information: www.titusandronicus.net
IF YOU GO:
Titus Andronicus and Ceremony, 10 p.m. Saturday, Maxwell’s (sold out), 1039 Washington St., Hoboken. 201-798-0406 or www.maxwellsnj.com.
Also performing with Ceremony and Lemuria, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Webster Hall, 125 E. 11th St., Manhattan, $20, 212-353-1600 or www.websterhall.com.