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Protomartyr Announce New Album “Formal Growth In The Desert” due June 2nd via Domino & Share Lead Single “Make Way” + Announce 2023 Tour Dates

March 7, 2023
Photo credit: Trevor Naud


Announce New Album Formal Growth In The Desert out June 2nd
Share Lead Single/Video “Make Way”
Announce 2023 UK Tour Dates + Playing SXSW

Detroit post-punk band Protomartyr announce their new albumFormal Growth In The Desert, out June 2nd on Domino, and present its lead single/videoMake Way.” Additionally, they announce 2023 North American, UK and EU tour dates including SXSW. Composed of vocalist Joe Casey, guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard, and bassist Scott Davidson, Protomartyr have become synonymous with caustic, impressionistic assemblages of politics and poetry, the literal and oblique. Casey describes the underlying theme of Formal Growth In The Desert as a 12-song testament to “getting on with life,” even when it feels impossibly hard.
The moody lead single/video, “Make Way,”doubles as Formal Growth In The Desert’s opening track, with Casey beginning the record by facing tragedy head-on: “Welcome to the haunted earth // The living after life // Where we chose to forget // the years of the Hungry Knife.” The accompanying video, directed by Trevor Naud, is a striking cinematic feat. 

Of the video, Naud says: “There’s a deliberate through-line between the videos for Make Way and 2020’s Worm In Heaven. The two songs feel partnered with each other. So I wanted the videos to feel like they exist in the same world. There are layers of experiments happening–all within a closed environment. We don’t know what’s happened to the world outside, but there’s an undertone that things maybe aren’t quite right.”

Protomartyr returns on the best form with their fierce, demanding new track “Make Way”. Infectious, ominous, and outrageous, there’s a real shifting and damning force at work throughout this track. An eclectic exploration that enthralls. Capturing the immense energy of this outfit and how they perfect a release filled with copious hooks and a truly innovative essence.

The new track starts slow, with this burning intensity apparent in the atmosphere almost immediately. The track builds with the raw tones and driving force of the drum kit, shifting breakdowns, unpredictable spacious steps, and devouring brooding vocal notes, all of this combined creates this complex and addictive course. This nod to midwestern reflects through the tonality, the sweeping rhythms, and the subtle slide. The power of this outfit is at its best when they unite their aggression, putting down angular, raucous notes, all building towards the cathartic, gritty finale.

Since their 2012 debut, No Passion All Technique, Protomartyr have mastered the art of evoking place: the grinding Midwest humility of their hometown, as well as the x-rayed elucidation of America that comes with their vantage. Formal Growth In The Desert was recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas and whilst Casey did have a humbling experience staring at awe-inspiring Sonoran rock formations and reckoning with his own smallness in the scheme of things, the group’s sixth album is not necessarily a nod to the sandy expanses of the Southwest. The record proves Detroit, too, is like a desert. “The desert is more of a metaphor or symbol” Casey says, “of emotional deserts, or a place or time that seems to lack life.”
On Formal Growth In The Desert, the desert brings an existential awareness that is ultimately internal. The “growth” came from a period of colossal transition for Casey, including the death of his mother, who struggled with Alzheimer’s for a decade and a half. Now 45, Casey had lived in the family home in northwest Detroit all his life. Immortalized in Protomartyr’s essential SPIN cover story, the neighborhood informed many of Protomartyr’s acclaimed albums, serving as a base through the band’s growth from scrappy punks to ones capable of touring the globe or bringing in The Breeder’s Kelley Deal as a touring member in 2020. In 2021, though, a rash of repeated break-ins signaled that it was time to finally move out.
Protomartyr’s music — more spacious and dynamic than ever — helped pull Casey up. “The band still being viable was very important to me,” Casey adds, “and it definitely lifted my spirits.” Having long served as Protomartyr’s unofficial musical director, guitarist Greg Ahee co-produced Formal Growth In The Desert alongside Jake Aron (Snail Mail, L’Rain). Ahee knew what Casey was going through and the challenges he’d been processing, and as Ahee was conceptualizing the music, he thought about how to make it all “like a narrative film.” Ahee explains, “I started to write at home on a piano and on a keyboard and then play along to short films, and watch how you can affect and heighten moods as you play.” The filmic sensibility is manifest in Casey’s storytelling, too, whether he’s critiquing ominous techno-capitalism or processing aging, the future, and the possibility of love.
In some sense, Formal Growth In The Desert is a testament to conflicting realities — the inevitability of loss, the necessity of finding joy through it and persisting — that come with living longer and continuing to create. It begins with pain but endures through it, cracking itself open into a gently-sweeping torrent of sound that is, for Protomartyr, totally new.

1. Make Way
2. For Tomorrow
3. Elimination Dances
4. Fun In Hi Skool
5. Let’s Tip the Creator
6. Graft Vs. Host
7. 3800 Tigers
8. Polacrilex Kid
9. Fulfillment Center
10. We Know the Rats
11. The Author
12. Rain Garden

Upcoming tour dates
Sat 11th March – Soupfest, Columbus
Sun 12th March – JJ’s Bohemia, Chattanooga
Mon 13th March – Gasa Gasa, New Orleans
Wed 15th March– SXSW, Laneway Official Showcase @ Lucille, Austin
Thurs 16th March- SXSW, Levitation @ Hotel Vegas, Austin
Thurs 16th March- SXSW, Brooklyn Vegan @ Empire, Austin
Fri 17th March- SXSW, Third Man @ 13th Floor, Austin
Sat 18th March – Texas Theater, Dallas
Mon 20th March – Rebel, Phoenix
Tues 21st March – Casbah, San Diego
Wed 22nd March – Teragram, Los Angeles
Fri 24th March – Temblor Brewing, Bakersfield
Sat 25th March – Holland Project, Reno
Sun 26th March – Treefort, Boise
Tues 28th March – Hi-Dive, Denver
Wed 29th March – Slowdown, Omaha
Thurs 30th March – Raccoon Motel, Davenport
Fri 31st March – Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
Tues 13th June – Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
Wed 14th June – Fairmount, Montreal
Fri 16th June – Bowery Ballroom, New York
Sat 17th June – Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia
Tues 20th June – Black Cat, Washington
Wed 21st June – Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro
Thurs 22nd June – Terminal West, Atlanta
Fri 23rd June – Blue Room, Nashville
Sat 24th June – Off Broadway, St Louis
Mon 26th June – 89th Street, Oklahoma
Wed 28th June – 191 Toole, Tucson
Thurs 29th June – Observatory, Santa Ana
Sat 1st July – The Chapel, San Francisco
Sun 2nd July – Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz
Wed 5th July – Wonder Ballroom, Portland
Thurs 6th July – Cobalt, Vancouver
Fri 7th July – Crocodile, Seattle
Sat 8th July – Lucky You, Spokane
Tues 11th July – Turf Club, St Paul
Wed 12th July – High Noon, Madison
Thurs 13th July – Thalia Hall, Chicago
Sun 6th August – Zoom, Frankfurt
Mon 7th August – Paradiso, Amsterdam
Wed 9th August – Concorde 2, Brighton
Thurs 10th August – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
Fri 11th August – Clwb Ifor Back, Cardiff
Sat 12th August – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Mon 14th August – Effenaar, Eindhoven
Tues 15th August – Indiego Glocksee, Hannover
Thurs 17th August – Loppen, Copenhagen
Fri 18th August – Parkenfestivalen, Bodo
Sat 19th August – Pstereo Festival, Trondheim
Thurs 26th October – Electric Ballroom, London

Formal Growth In The Desert will be available on Dom-Mart exclusive splatter vinyl (w/ zine and poster), standard vinyl (w/ zine and poster), CD and digitally. Pre-order: Dom Mart | Digital


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