Rx Drugs Balance Melancholy and Uplift on ‘Future Friction’
The last time we heard Joe Crockett’s unmistakable voice—a rich, caramel bellow that seems to envelop everything around it—it was with The Championship, the vaguely alt-country-ish Milwaukee band he fronted for a decade. That band got better with each release, but at some point after their 2012 album High Violet, as Crockett tells it, they lost their drive. Shows grew more infrequent as his bandmates’ life outside the band grew busier, and practices had primarily become excuses to hang out. “Playing with everybody was super easy, because I’d known those guys for so long, but at the same time it was easy to not practice and just drink beer and talk,” Crockett recalls. It was clear that, for the time being at least, the band had run its course.
It makes sense, then, that for his new band Crockett sought out a more disciplined approach. His new outfit Rx Drugs is a joint effort with Promise Ring/Dashboard Confessional bassist Scott Schoenbeck, Schoenbeck’s cousin Dustin Dobernig on keys, and drummer Justin Krol, who’s played with a slew of Milwaukee acts, most recently Hugh Bob and the Hustle and Trapper Schoepp and the Shades. In these local pros Crockett found the focus he was looking for—rehearsals are now punctual, purposeful affairs, he says. The tradeoff, of course, is that his bandmates have outside commitments to juggle.
“When we put this band together, the mindset was, ‘Let’s get the best guys together to be a part of it,’ but with that comes everybody else wanting these guys in their bands, too,” Crockett says. “Some of these other bands have pretty heavy tour schedules sometimes. Justin tours a lot with his brother Mike Krol, so he’s on the road a lot. Then when he comes home, Scott might be gone doing a Promise Ring or Dashboard Confessional tour. Then when Scott is done, Justin might be out with Trapper Schoepp.”
Those scheduling conflicts have limited Rx Drugs to just a handful of live shows since the group made their debut last year, but if all goes as planned they should have more shows lined up after October, once vinyl and CD copies of their debut album Future Friction are available. In the meantime, the group has posted the record for free streaming and name-your-price download on Bandcamp.
Future Friction runs with the melancholy feel of that last Championship record, but it’s tonally even darker. Frosty standouts “Gone Forever” and “The End” are nipped by chilly guitars inspired by some of the more shadowy corners of new wave, acts like The Cure, The Church and Nick Cave, while even more driving tracks like “Mountain of Dreams” and “Everyone Does” carry a sense of resignation. Though it’s never mopey, a weight hangs over the whole thing—every moment of warmth and uplift feels like a hard-fought feat.
funny,” Crockett says. “These songs are kind of dark, kind of depressing, but
I’m not really a sad guy, and I wasn’t really bummed out when I was writing these
songs. These just seemed like the easiest melodies to sing. You start with the
melodies, then lyrically you come up with a phrase that fits them, and has the
proper amount of syllables you need, and the song just kind of forms. It’s only
after the fact I realized they were kind of bummer, but that’s just the mood I
settled on. Hopefully somebody will relate to it. You know how you listen to a
particular kind of music in the fall as opposed to what you’d listen to in the
summertime? If I’d started making this record a few months later, it probably
would have been a super happy record.”
You can stream Future Fiction below, via Bandcamp.