In early September 2013, New Jersey punk band Titus Andronicus played a show at a VFW post in Missoula, Montana. To promote the gig, the group’s quixotic singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles did an interview with local daily newspaper The Missoulian in which he divulged for the first time his plans to write and record a rock opera.
For Titus Andronicus, this sort of grandiosity is expected. The band’s prior three albums pair shout-y, relentlessly visceral guitar anthems with big-picture concepts derived from American history, philosophy, and sociopolitical theory. Titus Andronicus’s most celebrated LP, 2010’s The Monitor, draws parallels between the Civil War and Stickles’s own upbringing in suburban Jersey. This is a group with the body of a street-alley brawler and the mind of a college professor.