Liner Notes

Sunday, April 17, 2016

At The Drive-In // Acrobatic Tenement

Recorded at Commercial Soundworks in Hollywood, CA in July, 1996
2013 Reissue
Translucent Red
Standard Gram
Favorite Track "Ticklish"


The album that introduces you to a band will be your favorite. I have found this to be true again and again. Is it possible you heard the band's best record first? Sure, but it's more likely you've developed an emotional connection to that particular sound and developed expectations of their future records.

My buddy Steve got me into ATDI in my junior year of high school. He was a big proponent of In/Casino/Out, but my local record store didn't have it so I bought Acrobatic Tenement instead. At the Drive-In's first LP is rough, raw, and pretty goddamn punk. The recording is technically a mess. There's a second guitar buried under there somewhere, but I can't be sure. But holy hell do I love this record. It's almost like listening to the record Minor Threat would have made before starting Fugazi.

When this record starts, I find myself in the parking lot of PetSmart in Reno, Nevada, in my '92 Pontiac Grand Prix eating Famous Amos cookies. I would listen to the A-side of this CD...


... more often than the B because my breaks only lasted fifteen minutes. I pushed carts and the girl I liked, who worked in the fish department, was dating the asshole manager, Mike, so I sat in my car and listened to this album. It's deep in my bones. I'm sure if I went back through the records I recorded when I was younger, you'd find enough ATDI-DNA to convict me of copyright infringement.

I may be in the minority, but I always liked this band more than Sparta or the Mars Volta. Cedric and Omar get a little too noodley for my taste when left to their own devices. Jim Ward's songs end up too straightfoward in Sparta. At the Drive-In was my perfect bowl of porridge. To borrow from Gestalt psychology, which I studied the semester I heard this record, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

At the Drive-In is reuniting (again) this year and I have tickets to see them next month. Just before heading out on tour, Jim Ward left the band (again). My friends assure me they still rock so I'm not terribly worried, but I wish he would join them for recording. His contributions will be sorely missed.

I saw them in San Francisco on their tour with the Murder City Devils on the Relationship of Command tour. They were ferocious live, but to the great detriment of their playing ability. I didn't realize they were playing "Embroglio" until the chorus. It was that noisy. It split Reno in half.

Were you there for indie/emo/post-hardcore (categorizing ATDI was never easy) or rock 'n roll? To quote a deleted scene from Pulp Fiction, "You're either a Beatles man or an Elvis man." Though I love both bands, I'm a Beatles man.

They reinvented themselves on every record. You can hear a b-side and know exactly which era it came from. I still own my Relationship of Command hoodie and I'm proud to announce it still fits. I'm looking forward to their new material, and promise I won't hold them to the impossible standard they've set with an incredibly strong discography. Glad to see them moving forward and creating. It would be easy for them to keep touring on the jukebox hits. They've provided the soundtrack to my adult life, so to get more music is a gift. Also, I'm grateful to them for helping me recognize a few headliners at Coachella.

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