Titus Andronicus is touring for the release of their latest album, “A Most Lamentable Tragedy,” and will make a stop at one of Richmond’s local venues, The Camel, on Sept. 13.
The group began their career as a buzzband from Glen Rock, New Jersey in 2005, but has since risen to national punk-scene-stardom. Their new album is a 92-minute rock opera three years in the making.
“It was a damn article on the internet that got us going,” said Titus Andronicus lead singer Patrick Stickles, referencing a positive review from music website Pitchfork which catalyzed the band’s big-time career in 2008.
A year after the Pitchfork review, Stickles said the group found themselves on tour in Europe promoting their first album, “The Airing of Grievances.”
“Titus Andronicus” is the title of one of William Shakespeare’s tragedies. The name carries multiple connotations, which Stickles said is partially how the band chose their name.
In Shakespeare’s play, Titus is a Roman ensnared in a cycle of revenge with the lover and sons of the Emperor. Some of the more notable scenes involve murder, rape and cannibalism. The play has been called over-the-top, even for Shakespeare.
“We have three stages in the process of finding the meaning behind Titus Andronicus,” Stickles said. “So it first started out that we just liked the way it sounded — Titus Andronicus — with the repeated vowel sounds, it just rolled off the tongue.”
However, like many of the decisions the band makes, Stickles said there were more layers beyond the sound. The name carries a social effect for the group, too. Stickles explained the second stage serves to break down distinctions between low and high classes of art, even going as far as bringing God and animals together.
He said the third stage of the naming process came with an examination of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” in terms of content and public reception.
“Titus Andronicus was a tragedy that was really meant to be a comedy,” Stickles said. “I think Shakespeare knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote this — he was making fun of his own indulgent art in a sense, and we’re all for that.”
Stickles said in regard to musical influences, his band finds more ideological inspiration from other artists, rather than being influenced by the actual music they produce.
“I wouldn’t say that we have specific influences, we don’t really,” Stickles said.
He added that the band strives for “a new way of using familiar ideas to provoke new reactions.”
Stickles said he hopes the band’s latest album is perceived as a more mature version of what the group has been doing, and the members are seen as more fully realized versions of themselves.
“We haven’t been able to tour very much since starting to record our rock opera, so we are so pumped for this thing to be happening,” Stickles said.
Stickles expressed having little respect for bands like the Beatles who didn’t go out and face the public, claiming that it’s an integral part of their work. Still, he said, touring is something the band truly enjoys.
“All my bandmates are so incredibly industrious,” Stickles said, mentioning guitarist Adam Reich. Reich opened a recording studio and all-ages music venue in Brooklyn called Shea Stadium.
Stickles also described drummer Eric Harm’s love of chess, and how Harm runs his own blog where he posts poems, pictures and answers to questions he gets from fans.
“But everyone’s just gonna have to quit it with their industriousness because we gotta go on the road,” Stickles said.