As they began to contemplate a new album, Grote and his longtime bandmates Pat Cassidy (guitar), Connor Jacobus (bass), and Braden Lawrence (drums) faced a transitional period that was painful for both personal and professional reasons, and found themselves fatigued and disoriented as a group. Grote also felt dysphoric from the anxiety-provoking state of the world today, while facing a daily battle with the dire health problems of his beloved dog. The Districts were forced to rethink everything. “This album was written as an escape and as reassurance. I was falling in love with someone new and trying to juggle this desperate desire to escape with the need to show up in my life. It’s pretty damn hard to be present and completely checked out all at once,” Grote explains. “It felt like much of my world had reached such a pitch that all I could do was try to tune it out. I felt really uncertain about the future of the band and super detached from much of what I used to identify with, on a personal level and with our music. I was thinking, ‘Do I want to keep doing music?’ ‘Do I want to keep doing it in this context?’”
While You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere builds on preceding albums, it takes an ambitious leap to a new level, exhibiting a widened sense of experimentation and expansiveness at its heart. There’s Rhodes, Mellotron, strings, samples, drum machines, tape loops, Wurlitzer, “ambient swells,” piano, synthesizers; Grote lists 12 instruments next to his name alone. Airy and understated, discordant and exuberant, and earnest all at once, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere is the culmination of The Districts’ growth and maturation through milestones and setbacks alike.
Pulling from the propulsive Popular Manipulations, the jagged indie rock of 2015’s A Flourish and a Spoil, and the rootsy vibe of their 2012 debut, Telephone, the band here followed their creative instincts every step of the way, resulting in their most sophisticated and adventurous record to date. “I really just needed to be myself instead of being what someone else thought I should be, whether that was like some masculine bar-band singer or… I don’t know,” Grote says, laughing. “I just want to be myself, and I want to try and do that as best as I can. This record is paradoxically the most-Districts record ever with no intention of ever being one at all. It’s about breaking free from how you’re seen, always being yourself first and holding on to who you are—but also about coming together as a whole and putting your ‘self’ aside. Doing all that, I’ve realized, ‘Oh, this is how I want to make music from now on!’”