Knitting Factory Presents
All Get Out, Ratboys, Wild Pink
$12 ADV | $15 DOS
A portion of every ticket sold is donated to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, a charity that provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. For more info go to www.sweetrelief.org.
Four years without new music can be a death sentence for any artist, and when an absence like that follows the release of a debut album, circumstances can get dire. But few acts are able to amass a cult following as rapidly as South Carolina-based indie rock outfit All Get Out did with 2011’s The Season, a full-length record that has proven to have near-infinite replayability.
“I needed a break,” songwriter and vocalist Nathan Hussey says. “I needed to regroup and really think about where I was, what I was doing, and how I was doing it.”
Finally, the band is back in action in 2015, and is ready to share a brand-new EP, Movement, on April 14 via Favorite Gentlemen Recordings and Bad Timing Records.
“The EP goes in a direction that feels natural for All Get Out,” Hussey explains. “It’s heavier, and it’s kind of a sister to our last release in its rawness. The Season is neatly put together, and Movement is a little sloppy, a little less intentional. The main concept here, of course, is movement. It’s how you know things are still alive.
“I started writing the title track in 2013. The first two verses are about how changes happen in a way that people don’t understand. And I’m kind of saying, you don’t have to get it, you don’t have to understand. And as the song was being written over those two years, it called me into the idea of movement.”
Movement isn’t a reintroduction or regeneration — it’s a reaffirmation. It’s a torrent of spirit at its most raw moments, an unabashed exorcism of the things that keep us awake at night in the pursuit of a life with deserved purpose. Continuing to gravitate toward the unoccupied spaces between indie and rock, All Get Out’s return to the spotlight presents an opportunity for listeners to fall in love all over again with one of the most dynamic groups in this genre.
Born out of fierce friendship and a mutual affection for melody, Chicago’s Ratboys – anchored by the partnership of Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan – aims to ‘write songs that tell stories and honor the intimacy of memory,’ according to Steiner.
GN, the group’s second full-length album via Topshelf Records, offers a bevy of tales, laments and triumphs, which recount near-tragedies by the train tracks, crippling episodes of loneliness, remembrances of a deceased family pet with freezer burn, and on and on. The songs shift and breathe as worlds all their own, tied together by the group’s self-proclaimed ‘post-country’ sound, which combines moments of distortion and a DIY aesthetic with a devotion to simple songwriting and ties to the Americana sounds of years past.
Drawing influence from the down-to-earth sincerity of late-90s Sheryl Crow and the confessional confidence of Kim Deal and Jenny Lewis, the songs on GN (aka ‘goodnight’) “largely detail experiences of saying goodbye, finding your way home, and then figuring out what the hell to do once you’re back,” says Steiner. The songs chosen to close both sides of the record – the slow-burning ‘Crying About the Planets’ and quizzical ‘Peter the Wild Boy’ – unpack the respective journeys of two real people who were quite literally lost and found. ‘’Crying’ tells the survival story of Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson from a first-person perspective, and ‘Peter’ reflects on the life of a feral child in Germany who was eventually adopted by the King of England,’ according to Steiner. ‘Writing as and about these people is the best way I can attempt to empathize with them and really just wrap my mind around these bits of history that otherwise might not get talked about. And it helps me understand my own experiences a little bit better,’ she says.
Certain personal stories – the tour adventures recapped in ‘GM,’ the struggle to learn to show affection as divulged in ‘Molly’ – find Ratboys just as eagerly exploring subject matter that comes from within, and then illustrating the highs and lows with soaring hooks and plaintive ones. Even in the moments that lie somewhere between bliss and misery, a tension persists between Steiner’s sweet vocal delivery and Sagan’s physical, almost-off-the-hinges guitar playing that lends each song a deeper sense of color and movement.
Steiner and Sagan felt the impulse to make music together from the get-go – they first met as university students, quickly put out an EP together, and started performing as an acoustic two-piece in dorm rooms and backyards. During the next few years, the friends traveled separately, eventually reunited, and recorded what would become the first Ratboys record, AOID, which the folks at GoldFlakePaint describe as ‘a gleaming, joyous, raucous display of melodic indie-rock.’
After a year and a half of touring the US and Europe as a plugged-in full band (featuring the additions of drums, bass, and trumpet), the members of Ratboys returned to Chicago and holed up at Atlas Studios for two weeks to record with engineer Mikey Crotty (who had previously worked with the group on the songs 'Not Again' and 'Light Pollution'). ‘This time around, we were lucky enough to feature the talents of friends who play the pedal steel, accordion, cello and violin to give the songs an extra something,’ says Steiner. ‘Dave finally got to show off his ridiculous skills on the pocket piano, and the whole thing felt like one big loving experiment.’
Those good times and long days yielded the 10 songs that make up GN, which Evan Hall of Pinegrove calls ‘a delectable chapter in the Ratboys story.’