Listings are in the opposite order of appearance: headliner is listed at the top, next is the support band(s), and the last band listed is the opener.
Saturday March 23
8:00PM doors -- music at 9:00PM
••• ALL AGES
$20 in advance / $25 at the door
emo, pop punk, dance punk, post-hardcore
-from Bloomington, MN
-To find their muse again, REMO DRIVE went back to where it all began: their parents’ basement. It had been a long time coming for the Paulson brothers – Erik (vocals, guitar) and Stephen (bass) – who formed Remo Drive in Bloomington, Minnesota, in 2013 and have since captivated audiences around the world with an earnest, idiosyncratic brand of indie-rock and two highly lauded albums: 2017’s Greatest Hits and 2019’s Natural, Everyday Degradation.
When the Paulsons stumbled across a Tascam recording desk on Facebook Marketplace in 2019, they thought it might make a nice starting point to demo songs for their then-forthcoming third LP. But $250 and a few weeks later, they found themselves fully entrenched in making the actual album itself. Not only that, but the safety and security of their parents’ home provided a welcome respite for the brothers, who have learned they’re most creative without a ticking clock and prying eyes peeking over their shoulders.
“Our workflow is naturally different from what most producers and studios like to do,” Erik explains. “We take things in our own weird approach and order. There’s a sense of privacy working at home. It doesn’t feel like you’re working with the door open during the incubation process.”
The resulting album, A PORTRAIT OF AN UGLY MAN (due out June 26 on Epitaph) finds the band truly in their element – both physically and sonically. Whereas the Paulsons filtered their buoyant songwriting through the concise lens of storytellers like Bruce Springsteen and The Killers on Natural, Everyday Degradation, LP3 is more spontaneous, awash in the same sort of acrobatic guitar arrangements and levity that made Greatest Hits such an underground favorite.
“I wanted to get back to playing guitar the way I used to, and then throw songwriting on top of that,” Erik says. “On the last album, I approached playing guitar in a more songwriter-y way. I had really scaled it back so it wouldn’t be as hard for me to sing and play simultaneously, but the guitar is way more forward again now.”
Self-produced and mixed by the duo, A Portrait of an Ugly Man feels all at once familiar and fresh: The basement breathed a looseness into songs like “If I've Ever Looked Too Deep In Thought” and “Ode to Joy,” while the freedom of the sessions left the band able to explore the next evolution of their sound. As such, the 10-song set tips its hat to both the classic rock the brothers grew up on as well as previously untapped influences: Erik namechecks desert-rock artists like Queens of the Stone Age while admitting The Good, The Bad and The Ugly soundtrack and his binge-watching of old Westerns contributed to the album’s tremolo-heavy, American frontier gunslinger pastiche.
But this time around, the guiding hands of their musical influences is less overt, a conscious decision the band address on album standout “Star Worship,” which preaches the need to eschew reverence for others and instead trust in yourself. That unflinching sense of self-awareness is what made Remo Drive so endearing as they found their footing in the mid-2010s, but it’s never been as crystalized as it is on A Portrait of an Ugly Man. So while the songs still tackle life’s weighter topics, they’re cut with more self-deprecation and embrace all of life’s absurdity and weirdness in the process. They don’t attempt to minimize serious subjects, but rather provide some much-needed irreverence.
“I was bumming myself out by trying to be more serious than I actually am,” Erik admits. “On this album, I wanted to write stuff that still communicated real ideas but had a bit of lighthearted, fun energy to it.”
In turning the mirror back at themselves in this way, Remo Drive have learned a lot about who they really are: A Portrait of an Ugly Man cements their place as an insular, self-sustaining act who don’t need shiny gear or expensive studios to produce a great album – that task starts and ends with the songs themselves. And, as it turns out, the recording process was proof that when it comes to a nurturing, creative environment, there’s no place like home.
“We’d been gone so much with touring that our parents were so excited to have us home,” Erik says. “They’d always come downstairs to hear what we were working on. They’re always used to us practicing, but seeing more of each other was really nice.”
“Plus,” he adds with a laugh, “there’s always some food in the fridge.” XX
Subsequent singles only fueled the fire, earning numerous placements on editorial playlists, including Spotify’s New Music Friday, New Noise, and Undercurrents; spins on influential radio stations KROQ and KCRW; and an opening slot with Britain’s massively popular Lovejoy on multiple sold-out tour dates in 2023. On Spotify alone, over 500,000 listeners across more than 150 countries have streamed wilt’s songs millions of times.
But what makes wilt so special? It starts with Rifkin, whose vocal prowess and captivating stage presence have drawn comparisons to Hayley Williams, Debbie Harry, and Joan Jett. Add to that a repertoire of hook-laden, anthemic and introspective tracks all recorded, produced, mixed and mastered start to finish in Liebman and Vance’s home studios. The results defy categorization, while simultaneously recalling such influences as Nirvana, Radiohead, Slow Pulp, Car Seat Headrest and Weezer.
Rifkin has also made no secret of her love for ’90s grunge, and credits Hole for inspiring wilt’s moniker. “In the song ‘Celebrity Skin,’ which we love to cover, there’s the lyric ‘wilted and faded somewhere in Hollywood,’” she explains. “When we were coming up with band names none of them were hitting. And then I was like, ‘wilt.”’ Adds Vance: “I knew when I heard Chelsea say ‘wilt’ that it was the band name for sure.” Their followers, known as “wilters”, would agree. “The response from our fans has been mind-blowing,” says Vance. “The amount of attention we’ve been getting is really all we could have asked for.”
That said, wilt is just getting started, and 2024 promises to be a breakout year for the
band with more singles on the way, the release of a debut EP and tour dates scheduled
across the U.S.