24 years after the release of their last LP, White Trash Heroes, North Carolina’s finest, Archers Of Loaf have announced the release of a new album Reason In Decline, on Merge Records, to hit the shops and digital platforms on October 21st 2022. To promote the release they have a short East Coast US Tour, starting in Baltimore Nov 29th and ending in Asheville, in their home state, on Dec 4th. No UK or European dates have been announced yet, but hopefully they will follow in 2023.
After some reunion shows in 2015 reignited the band’s creative passion, singer/guitarist Eric Bachmann attempted to write new Archers material, but he just couldn’t do it. For him, the voice and identity of the band was trapped in the past. “For Archers lyrics, songs, everything, I had to imagine I was this angry white curmudgeon college guy who hates capitalism and consumerism and has a broken heart,” he says. “He’s bitter about relationships, so he makes fun of things to seem cool. As I’ve aged, I’m far less like that anymore, but it is a part of my personality. I just wasn’t excited about re-energizing it. I used that guy as a starting point to get myself out of the gate, but in the course of writing the actual songs, he eventually went away.”
Unable to perform, tour, or earn, Bachmann had become the full-time stay-at-home parent of a toddler son, while his wife toiled as an ICU nurse. The change was profound. “I’m 51, I’ve been [writing and playing music] since I was 14,” he says. “I’ve been doing it for a living since I was 22, that’s 37 years. For the first time, when COVID happened, I couldn’t do it. It was a massive psychological setback, to the point that I had to get help. I already had a problem with suicide ideation, constantly thinking about this shit. And I’m not ashamed to say that. Thousands and thousands of people have the same problem. Anyway, all this got baked into the songs.”
The end result, “Reason in Decline”, is no nostalgic, low-impact reboot. When they emerged from North Carolina’s ’90s indie-punk incubator, the Archers’ hurtling, sly, gloriously dissonant roar was a mythologized touchstone of slacker-era refusal. But this new LP is an entirely different noise. In fact, it’s a startling revelation. Guitarists Eric Bachmann and Eric Johnson, once headstrong smartasses inciting a series of artful pileups on the band’s four studio albums and EP, are now a fluidly complementary, sonically advanced unit. Notably, Johnson’s signature trebly lines peal clearly above the din instead of struggling to be heard. Today, singer-songwriter Bachmann’s lyrics balance righteous wrath with a complex tangle of adult perspective. He still spits bile, but it’s less likely to concern scene politics, music trends, or shady record labels thwarting the dreams of a young rock band. Bachmann puts it bluntly: “What I really think about going back to the Archers and doing a new record is that the three other members of this band are awesome. It’s not about responding to the past or whatever our bullshit legacy is. I just wanted to work with these guys because I knew the chemistry we had and that we still have. I knew that was rare.”
The first single off the new LP, “In The Surface Noise” can be seen here