"You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere is an unachievable promise,” says The Districts bandleader Rob Grote. “It’s about a dream for love to last forever and a yearning to postpone death. It is about wanting to escape everyday life while also craving time with one who’s present. It’s a plea to remain the same in the face of constant change, and the certainty of going nowhere fast.” Written after playing nearly 200 shows over two years in support of their 2017 album, Popular Manipulations, The Districts’ fourth full-length You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere almost never arrived.
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?’”
Grote retreated to his bedroom and started writing with no objective other than to create. Free from expectations, and with an acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and drum machine at hand, he discovered a newfound creative freedom. “Originally, I had no intention of them even being a record. It was strictly a process of trying to connect to something outside of and larger than myself—kind of this rocky imbalance of isolating myself while trying to maintain connections as time rushed on. There was a lot of back and forth between working as a group and not feeling capable of doing that,” reflects Grote. “I ended up taking these recordings super far along, whereas normally I would almost compulsively share them with my bandmates as soon as I had an idea. This time I was sitting on them and putting work into them in a way that I hadn’t known I enjoyed doing.”