There's a big sound coming from New Jersey. Is it emo? Is it mall-punk? Is it the eighth coming of Bon Jovi?
Thankfully, it's none of those. It's the truly gigantic sound of Titus Andronicus, a band that's going to make you believe in rock and roll all over again. The sextet ratchets the rancor of Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" up to epic proportions, and through this amassing of outrage, their bilious songs are somehow transformed into blissful anthems.
The band is dedicated to bringing this transcendence to each and every live show. "Chuck Dukowski said something to the effect of that when people would come to a poorly attended Black Flag show, it isn't their fault that more people didn't show up and that they deserve the same level of performance as if there were more people there," says singer Patrick Stickles. "Joe DiMaggio said something similar. Good advice, I think."
Titus Andronicus' magnificent debut full-length, The Airing of Grievances, sounds like Conor Oberst fronting the Clash after they all decided to start a Springsteen cover band—with the help of about 100 beers. Train track drums, fuzzball guitar, military trumpet, and gospel piano all color songs that are sloppy, glorious, angry, and ecstatic.
The Bruce Springsteen comparisons are inevitable, but this doesn't bother Stickles. "People seem to bring him up a lot when they hear that we're from Jersey," he says, "and we get compared to him a lot more than would probably be the case if we were from somewhere else, but Bruce is one of my all-time favorites, so I don't have any problems with him following us around. I would say that we are more haunted by Thursday and My Chemical Romance."