As anyone who’s heard Titus Andronicus epics like The Monitor and The Most Lamentable Tragedy can attest, Patrick Stickles is an ambitious guy. Even his more minor works like last year’s A Productive Cough sometimes turn out to be part of a grander design: As he explained to us earlier this year, that album was actually the first in a two-part series concluding with his band’s imminent, Bob Mould-produced An Obelisk.
Titus have rolled out two songs from the new album thus far, “I Blame Society” and “Tumult Around The World.” For the next reveal, Stickles has found yet another fresh outlet for his creativity, releasing multiple new tracks via a sitcom pilot.
Yes, Stickles and director Ray Concepcion have partnered on STACKS, which they’re billing as a “‘prestige’ situation comedy” about a lightly fictionalized version of Titus Andronicus. The title, STACKS, is apparently Stickles’ nickname. The 36-minute pilot episode features the first two tracks on An Obelisk, “Just Like Ringing A Bell” and “Troubleman Unlimited.” It also features the voice of Superchunk’s Laura Ballance, who co-founded Titus’ label home Merge Records, as well as Merge staffers Mike Caulo and Cecile Duncan (who suggests Titus might move more units with a viral dance challenge or by switching to synth-pop). There’s also a reference to the hot new indie band Mommy Daddy Baby, who received a 10 out of 10 from musicbeat.biz. And that’s just in the first 10 minutes — perhaps more canny music business inside baseball is to come. (I haven’t gotten to watch the whole thing yet.)
Tonight at 9PM ET, Stickles will host a STACKS after-show called STACKS ON STACKS live on YouTube, where he’ll take questions live with “a panel of special guests.” See? Fun stuff. Thank you, Titus Andronicus, for making this rollout fun. Though as Stickles tells Vulture, it’s by necessity: “Even if you made the greatest thing in the world, if you don’t have an angle with which to sell it, you’re basically sunk. Or if you can’t find some way that it ties into some prevailing media narrative, what are you gonna do? If you can’t make a Game Of Thrones meme out of something, who cares if it exists or not?”
Watch the STACKS pilot below. Beneath the episode is an embed for STACKS ON STACKS, set to go live at 9PM ET.
An Obelisk is out 6/21 on Merge. Pre-order it here.