Welcome To Pittsburgh #3: The Gotobeds Sign To Sub Pop

Yes, the rumors are true, Mr. and Ms. Column Follower. Local Pittsburgh indie-rock superheroes The Gotobeds have signed to Sub Pop Records. Everyone’s people have dotted the dotted line and announced it to everyone else’s people in much-anticipated press releases shot around the Interwebs a few hours ago in a parlance that used to be called “hot off the presses.” (Kind of a dusty term now, inn’it?) It is, as they say, official. The ink is drying. Et cetera.

For those just joining the program, The Gotobeds are anything anybody in the Rust Belt underground has been able to talk about since the group released Poor People Are Revolting, a winningly titled, Gerard Cosloy-backed full-length debut, in September 2014. Go to Mad Mex near Chatham University in Squirrel Hill, and the waiter taking your Big Azz Margarita order is saying how “New York’s Alright” is an “East Coast anthem with Wire-style electricity burning a hole in your goddamn ear.” Get some ink at Pittsburgh Tattoo CompanyDowntown and the girl Shannon’s inking is running her mouth about how “Fucking Machine” does Pavement better than Malkmus could do Pavement these days. Go to the Iggle – any Iggle, really — and, at checkout, the girl weighing your bananas (I mean literally; not you know, like, figuratively, sizing up your banana) is talking about how she’s thought Gotobeds frontman Eli Kasan is dreamy ever since she saw him in the P-G. Hey, sister, if all it takes is a hit record or a sizable drug arrest, I know a way to get my name in print, too! But, I digress.

The record, all 10 songs of it, is a thing of beauty, and, Cosloy got one thing right, for sure: it is filler-free. Calling to mind Wire (aforementioned, plus the obvious Gotobeds nod), The Fall and Pavement, it also drops hints at Sonic Youth’s Dirty, The Stooges, and, in its mathier or quirkier moments, Polvo and Brainiac. Its songs are punky but precise, anthemic but not dumbed-down for the masses, energetic but not overly amped up. The band is serious but not stoic, pissed off but not hate-filled. This is punk, in attitude if not initiation. And this is the stuff of a debut! NPR was right back in the autumn to call this “one of the strongest American rock debuts in years.” (Now, that’s a clip to save, Mom Kasan!)

The alt-rock of the early 90s is back, indeed. “Wasted On Youth/Melted Candle” hints at the organic throb of early/mid Mudhoney, minus maybe some of the Turner fuzz. (Yeah, Kasan even kicks it off with an Arm roar for good measure, which seems apt now, y’know, given the Sub-Texts.) “Wimpy Garcia (Brotherfucker)” – kudos on the title, boys – digs deeper into the Pacific Northwest ethos and mythos. (I’m thinking less Sub Pop Seattle and more Estrus Bellingham.) “Rollin’ Benny” is a rollickin’ romp, perfect for the drug-fueled and drug-frenzied among us. “Secs Tape,” a first take (swear to crap) captured at 11 minutes, will blow your mind, Timmy.

So, what is next? Well, Sub Pop, which announced signing the group to a worldwide recording deal Wednesday, promised “new music in the near future” to those who keep “ears open.” Til then, we’ll all have to suffice with getting our asses handed to us live, starting right in the Burgh in Polish Hill at good ol’ Gooski’s April 8.

Here are tour dates with * marking appearances with Hardly Art band Protomartyr.

Apr. 08 – Pittsburgh, PA – Gooski’s *
Apr. 09  – Ithaca, NY – Cornell University *
Apr. 11 – Providence, RI – AS220 *
Apr. 12 – Cambridge, MA – Club Bohemia *
Apr. 13 – Willimantic, CT – Willimantic Records
Apr. 14 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s *
Apr. 15 – Brooklyn, NY – The Wick *
Apr. 16 – Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall *
Apr. 17 – Winston-Salem, NC – The Garage *
Apr. 18 – Athens, GA – Caledonia *

Now some back story. We need some, right? Press release person-to-be-determined “Hazy Lazer” – code name: Kasan – chalked up the Burgh as having “a nice, Thatcher-esque feel thanks to the housing bubble bursting” in March ’09, when he and “Parryman” got the itch to form The Gotobeds back in the day of predecessor band Kim Phuc. So the story goes.

“Being from a city that has great bands but is removed from most things gave us time to gestate,” he told Sub Pop, and Sub Pop told us in its press material mere hours ago. “If you’re intelligent enough to read between the lines you know I’m covering for the fact that we were initially pretty terrible.”

Well, the gestation is over. The Gotobeds ain’t so terrible anywhere.

Today, the band is signed to Sub Pop and they are kings in Pittsburgh. Tomorrow has a promise of something even bigger. Long may they reign. – Popdose, April 2, 2015


About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.