Archers Of Loaf Bring the ‘Noise’ on First Album in 24 Years

Written by on July 13, 2022


Thirteen years after reuniting following their original 1998 split, Chapel Hill, N.C.-reared indie rock favorites Archers Of Loaf will be back this fall with their first new album in 24 years. Reason in Decline is due Oct. 21 from Merge Records and is led by the strident, anthemic single “In the Surface Noise.”

 

Vocalist/guitarist Eric Bachmann, guitarist Eric Johnson, bassist Matt Gentling and drummer Mark Price have toured on and off since 2011 and released a handful of new songs in 2020, but Bachmann tells SPIN he didn’t feel this first batch of material was cohesive enough to form the backbone of a full album. Instead, he funneled the hopelessness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rage inspired by the Trump administration into 10 fresh compositions only the Archers could properly bring to life.

“The pandemic was bad for a person like me, who has always used music as therapy but also to make a living,” Bachmann says. “I knew that an angry rock record was going to come out, but I didn’t know it was going to be Archers until the third or fourth song with the tempos all above 120 beats per minute.”

The turning point was the song “Screaming Undercover,” a powerful blast of urgent rock’n’roll that would feel as at home on a mid-period Replacements album as Archers’ classic 1993 debut Icky Mettle. “Once that song was finished, I knew I was going to funnel everything else in that direction and that we’d make it work,” says Bachmann, whose post-Archers music in Crooked Fingers has traditionally been much more mellow. “There’s no better group of people to make a rock record with than Matt, Mark and Eric.”

Still, Bachmann admits he struggled with returning to an Archers mindset more than two decades since the band’s 1998 farewell album White Trash Heroes. “The reason it worked now is because the music still has the antagonism of that perspective that I sang from back then,” he says. “I don’t even want to call it a character, because it is who I am, to a degree. I didn’t have to go back to someone who was 26 or 28 and had that younger perspective. I can be who I am now, which is a 52-year-old man who is reacting to the world going haywire.”

Bachmann says the album title reflects today’s soundbite culture, where “every question requires a two-second answer. It’s this whole idea of a simple response, and those are never going to be complete. It makes us dumber and dumber, like when you can’t remember your wife’s number because you’re so used to just pressing ‘1’ on your cell phone.”

As ever, Bachmann didn’t shy away from chronicling real-life issues such as his pandemic-era desperation (opener “Human,” which rhymes “high school” with “cocaine caked around your nostrils”), how the 2020 murder of George Floyd forced him to confront his own feelings about race in America (“In the Surface Noise”) and profligate corporate greed (“Mama Was a War Profiteer”). And though the new album certainly rocks hard, “there are mellow songs on here too that could have been Crooked Fingers songs,” Bachmann says. “Sometimes that distance in time from making something, and then waiting 15 years to make something else, can allow you to unconsciously think about ways to be more clear in what you’re trying to say.”

Archers Of Loaf will support Reason in Decline with a handful of late fall/early winter tour dates, a truncated schedule necessitated by the fact that the members all live in different cities. Says Bachmann, “Matt’s also in Band Of Horses and is extremely busy with them. I’m doing my own musical things and I also have a kid and a spouse. Eric Johnson is a defense attorney. Mark Price runs a warehouse. People are busy. We’ll tour when we can — a week here and a week there. But I’m excited. It will be good to play with those guys again.”

Here are Archers Of Loaf’s tour dates:

Nov. 29: Baltimore (Ottobar)
Nov. 30: Philadelphia (Underground Arts)
Dec. 1: Boston (The Sinclair)
Dec. 2: Brooklyn, N.Y. (Warsaw)
Dec. 3: Richmond, Va. (The Broadberry)
Dec. 4: Asheville, N.C. (Grey Eagle)

Here is the track list for Reason in Decline:

“Human”
“Saturation and Light”
“Screaming Undercover”
“Mama Was a War Profiteer”
“Aimee”
“In the Surface Noise”
“Breaking Even”
“Misinformation Age”
“The Moment You End”
“War Is Wide Open”





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