Pittsburgh band The Gotobeds have been pounding eardrums with their brand of haywire post-punk since their debut, “People Are Revolting,” back in 2014. Their tight, scrappy songs and fun-loving, devil-may-care mischievous live shows have made them a favorite on the scene for years, and with their newest record, “Debt Begins at 30,” out this Friday on Sub Pop, the band has invited some pretty high-profile friends to join the party.
With a slew of grade A-pedigree indie-rock guest singers such as Joe Casey of Protomartyr, Bob Nastanovich of Pavement, Tim Midyett of Chicago indie-rock legends Silkworm, Victoria Ruiz of Downtown Boys, and an arsenal of other great voices and musicians, the band has created the indie-rock equivalent of a hip-hop mixtape. The songs flow in and out with a large cast of characters coming in and out to add to the narrative in meaningful ways that never wear out their welcome.
“As the guy that gets things done in the band, the reason you’re talking to me instead of the other dudes,” says lead singer and guitarist Eli Kasan, of the ambitious undertaking of the new record. “At one point we’re at practice and I remember somebody had said, ‘We all like rap. Why don’t we make a record like a rap record where every song has a guest?’ It’s like a mixtape. It’s a Gotobeds record, but we’re going to have these people on it. So we were like, ‘Good idea!’ Then, no joke, I’m starting to think of perfect guests and I would suggest people. I would say it wasn’t until we got to the third or fourth guest, I was just giving the guys a heads-up [saying], ‘Hey, I have to pay an engineer $200 to record someone’s vocals.’ Then Cary [Belback], our drummer, was like, ‘For what?’ I was like, ‘For their guest spot.’ He was like, ‘Who all is on the record?’ So I started rattling some names off. He was like, ‘Oh, are we doing that?’ I’m the wrong person to suggest something to because if I think you’re game to do it, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. It kind of happened in not a joke way, but we fell into it I guess.”
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While the band enlisted help from some heavy hitters to add color to the record, Kasan is amazed at how organically it all came together. Each guest agreed to be a part of the project out of sheer admiration and respect for one of the most exciting bands around.
“Although it might seem like starf—ing, I will say the people that are on the record are people that we have met and interacted with, were already talking and hanging out with us,” says Kasan. “I don’t think there was anybody that wasn’t a friend or a fan already.”
The title of the record is a play on the 1980 documentary on the Pittsburgh punk scene by artist and filmmaker Stephanie Beroes, “Debt Begins at 20.” But as the band was writing material for the album, Kasan found that while it would be nice to be in on the reference, the lyrical themes of taking on debt while chasing artistic pursuits could stand on their own.
“It was a somewhat joke for us as we get older. It does get harder. We’re certainly not taking this [playing in the band] as a career. We don’t make any moves with that stuff in mind. It’s cool that people could get the reference, but it could stand on its own. We’re indebted to our friends who helped us make this record. We’re indebted to our partners who put up for us being gone for long stretches. We’re also in financial debt [laughs].”