Protomartyr Announce New Album 'Formal Growth In The Desert' - Out June 2
Photo credit: Trevor Naud

Protomartyr Announce New Album 'Formal Growth In The Desert' - Out June 2

Today, Detroit post-punk band Protomartyr announce their new album, Formal Growth In The Desert, out June 2nd on Domino, and present its lead single/video, “Make Way.” Additionally, they announce 2023 North American and EU tour dates. 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." 


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. Though 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. Formal Growth In The Desert, recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, 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. 


PROTOMARTYR TOUR DATES
Sat. Mar. 11 - Columbus, OH @ Soupfest
Sun. Mar. 12 - Chattanooga, TN @ JJ’s Bohemia
Mon. Mar. 13 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
Wed. Mar. 15 - Austin, TX @ SXSW- Laneway Official Showcase - Lucille
Thu. Mar. 16 - Austin, TX @ SXSW - Levitation Showcase - Hotel Vegas
Thu. Mar. 16 - Austin, TX @ SXSW - Brooklyn Vegan Showcase - Empire
Fri. Mar. 17 - Austin, TX @ SXSW - Third Man Showcase - 13th Floor
Sat. Mar. 18 - Dallas, TX @ Texas Theater
Mon. Mar. 20 - Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel
Tue. Mar. 21 - San Diego, CA @ Casbah
Wed. Mar. 22 - Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram
Fri. Mar. 24 - Bakersfield, CA @ Temblor Brewing
Sat. Mar. 25 - Reno, NV @ Holland Project
Sun. Mar. 26 - Boise, ID @ Treefort
Tue. Mar. 28 - Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
Wed. Mar. 29 - Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
Thu. Mar. 30 - Davenport, IA @ Raccoon Motel
Fri. Mar. 31 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Tue. June 13 - Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
Wed. June 14 - Montreal, QC @ Fairmount
Fri. June 16 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Sat. June 17 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Tue. June 20 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat
Wed. June 21 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Thu. June 22 - Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
Fri. June 23 - Nashville, TN @ Blue Room
Sat. June 24 - St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway
Mon. June 26 - Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th Street
Tue. June 28 - Tucson, AZ @ 191 Toole
Wed. June 29 - Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
Sat. July 1 - San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
Sun. July 2 - Santa Cruz, CA @ Moe’s Alley
Wed. July 5 - Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
Thu. July 6 - Vancouver, BC @ Cobalt
Fri. July 7 - Seattle, WA @ Crocodile
Sat. July 8 - Spokane, WA @ Lucky You
Tue. July 11 - St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
Wed. July 12 - Madison, WI @ High Noon
Thu. July 13 - Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
Sun. Aug. 6 - Frankfurt, DE @ Zoom
Mon. Aug. 7 - Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
Wed. Aug. 9 - Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2
Thu. Aug. 10 - Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms
Fri. Aug. 11 - Cardiff, UK @ Clwb lfor Bach
Sat. Aug. 12 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
Mon. Aug. 14 - Eindhoven, NL @ Effenaar
Tue. Aug. 15 - Hannover, DE @ Indiego Glocksee
Thu. Aug. 17 - Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen
Fri. Aug. 18 - Bodo, NO @ Parkenfestivalen
Sat. Aug. 19 - Trondheim, NE @ Pstereo
Thu. Oct. 26 - London, UK @ Electric Ballroom 

Protomartyr Formal Growth In The Desert

Album | 2nd June 2023

Since their 2012 debut, 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. The group’s sixth album was recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX with producer Jake Aron. “The desert is more of a metaphor or symbol,” singer Joe Casey says, “of emotional deserts, or a place or time that seems to lack life.” The “growth” came from a period of colossal transition for Casey, including the death of his mother. But life does go on, and Casey describes the great theme of Formal Growth In The Desert as an embrace and acknowledgment of that fact: a 12-song testament to “getting on with life,” even when it feels impossibly hard.

Tracklisting

  • 1Make Way
  • 2For Tomorrow
  • 3Elimination Dances
  • 4Fun In Hi Skool
  • 5Let's Tip the Creator
  • 6Graft Vs. Host
  • 73800 Tigers
  • 8Polacrilex Kid
  • 9Fulfillment Center
  • 10We Know the Rats
  • 11The Author
  • 12Rain Garden

Protomartyr Formal Growth In The Desert

Album | 2nd June 2023

Since their 2012 debut, 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. The group’s sixth album was recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX with producer Jake Aron. “The desert is more of a metaphor or symbol,” singer Joe Casey says, “of emotional deserts, or a place or time that seems to lack life.” The “growth” came from a period of colossal transition for Casey, including the death of his mother. But life does go on, and Casey describes the great theme of Formal Growth In The Desert as an embrace and acknowledgment of that fact: a 12-song testament to “getting on with life,” even when it feels impossibly hard.

Tracklisting

  • 1Make Way
  • 2For Tomorrow
  • 3Elimination Dances
  • 4Fun In Hi Skool
  • 5Let's Tip the Creator
  • 6Graft Vs. Host
  • 73800 Tigers
  • 8Polacrilex Kid
  • 9Fulfillment Center
  • 10We Know the Rats
  • 11The Author
  • 12Rain Garden
Buy Now

Live Dates

Wednesday 8th May

Protomartyr
Paramount Theatre, Seattle, US

Sunday 9th June

Protomartyr
La Tulipe, Montreal, Canada

Tuesday 11th June

Protomartyr
Crystal Ballroom at Somerville Theatre, Boston / Cambridge, US

Wednesday 12th June

Protomartyr
No Fun (Troy NY), Springfield, US

Thursday 13th June

Protomartyr
Underground Arts, Philadelphia, US

Friday 14th June

Protomartyr
Warsaw, New York (NYC), US

Sunday 16th June

Protomartyr
Metro, Baltimore, US

Tuesday 18th June

Protomartyr
Spirit Hall, Pittsburgh, US

Wednesday 19th June

Protomartyr
Natalie's Grandview, Columbus, US

Thursday 20th June

Protomartyr
The Empty Bottle, Chicago, US