Upcoming Releases

American Primitive
04/05/2024
Old 97's American Primitive Punk Rock Theory
 on
Tuesday, February 20, 2024 - 21:02
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Thomas

Thirty years after the release of their powerhouse debut Hitchhike to Rhome, alt-country pioneers Old 97’s are celebrating with the announcement of their lucky 13th studio album American Primitive that will be released on April 5 via ATO Records. Opening with the lyric “You’ve got to dance like the world is falling down around you, because it is,” American Primitive radiates with rambunctious joy even as Miller’s lyrics contend with complex questions of love and mental illness and the routinely daunting state of the world. Today, the three-decade-long lineup of singer and guitarist Rhett Miller, bassist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples released the official video for first single “Where The Road Goes” which features Peter Buck on guitar.

“I was in Montana and found myself on the banks of the Blackfoot River, watching the water pounding with a ferocious power, and I started building this song as a statement of gratitude for having survived this long,” explains Miller. “It revisits some of the darkest moments of my life, including a suicide attempt at age 14 that by all rights I shouldn’t have lived through and yet somehow did. In a way it’s like a spiritual travelogue that rolls back through all the places that shaped me for better or worse, and ends up in this beautiful place that I felt so thankful to experience.”

Produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, Neko Case) and featuring iconic guest musicians like Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Scott McCaughey of The Young Fresh Fellows and The Minus 5, the album took shape in a series of deliberately whirlwind sessions at Flora Studio in Portland, Oregon. “This was the first record we’ve ever done with zero pre-production,” Miller points out. “It’s us working completely on instinct, leaning on 30 years of playing together to come up with something on the fly rather than overthinking any of our choices.”

The album’s title was lifted from a bit of fictional art criticism in Stephen King’s psych-horror novel Duma Key and experienced a full-circle moment when King himself tweeted the news about the album early. In choosing the cover art for American Primitive, Old 97’s selected a painting created by Hammond’s 17-year-old son Tex Hammond — a prodigious talent who, at age 14, became the youngest artist ever to exhibit at the prestigious LA Art Show. It’s a fitting choice for a band who’ve maintained a certain youthful exuberance more than three decades into their career, and for an album in which a palpable sense of wonder prevails despite its world-weary undercurrent.

“Over the last year of touring in celebration of our 30th anniversary, it’s been impossible not to feel some emotion welling up at the idea that my bandmates and I have been in this close brotherhood for so long,” says Miller. “I think a lot of that longevity has to do with the fact that we’re really the same band we were back then. We’ve experimented with pushing in different directions, and we’ve had experiences outside the band where we’ve learned new things, but the way we approach this music has fundamentally remained the same. Our heart is still in the exact same place.”

 

American Primitive track list:

  1. Falling Down
  2. Somebody
  3. American Primitive
  4. Where The Road Goes
  5. Honeypie
  6. By The End Of The Night
  7. Masterpiece
  8. Incantation
  9. Magic
  10. Western Stars
  11. Chased The Setting Sun
  12. This World
  13. Estuviera Cayendo