On September 11, Algiers will perform at the reunion show at Black Cat. Lead singer Frank Fisher is looking forward to returning, having performed at the venue many different times. Fisher and the band will perform songs from their most recent album “There is No Year.”
At the beginning of 2020, Damien Morris of the Guardian described “There is No Year” as “electrifying, unpredictable and chaotic as ever.” On first listen, the experience is hard to nail down; the lyrics are pointed and vague all at once, like a rallying cry, while the music carries a sense of urgency.
Fisher never intended the lyrics as overtly political, and yet we live in an age where everything is political. Creating the album was an esoteric exercise, however, which means it’s open to interpretation.
“It’s important to highlight the fact that it’s always kind of a playful thing,” Fisher says. “It’s a blessing when anybody is interested in what you’re doing, even if they don’t get it.”
Fisher wasn’t afraid to use the word “gun,” ask questions about God and country, or invoke images of a burning world. In response, some fans claim Algiers has lost their edge, in terms of the political tone some of their lines carry.
“But that’s the point,” Fisher says. “Everything is political. And if you only write about something that’s explicitly political, then you’re narrowing your scope of what that even means.”
It’s easy for listeners to put artists in their own perceived box; we identify with a song because of our own stories. When the artist diverts from our perceived message, it feels personal. But Algiers is open to that tension, and Fisher uses fans’ responses to fuel future work.
“[The tension] gives you another dimension to play off of in your writing,” he says.
Like many of us, Fisher took the past year as a sign to slow down and find a space of his own outside the crowded hotel rooms he’d come to know on tours. The post-punk band is made up of childhood and college-made friends — Ryan Mahan, Lee Tesche, Matt Tong and Fisher — and after about twenty years, they’ve come to know the unconditional love necessary to keep working together.
“If you’re going to be in a band, it’s already a less than sane endeavor,” Fisher says. “Any group of adults who forsake any kind of security to pursue an ideal with no promise of success — you have to be bonded by motivation.”
The band is currently working on another album, and the process has been totally different from their past studio time. In the past, Fisher didn’t feel his lyrics were quite as ready as he wanted, and working under harder deadlines wasn’t helpful to his creative process. This time, Algiers has more say over the development process.
“Covid allowed us to stop moving so quickly,” Fisher says. “[Last year], I could just write music for the joy of writing music.”
So, he wrote. And about six months in, he had a few songs he thought could make a new album. The band (or as Fisher called them, “the fellas”) were into the new ideas.
“The process changes so much every time,” Fisher says, “which is what you want. You want [your creative process] to be obedient to the energy of the moment.”
When Fisher performs, he also feels the energy of the moment. Each performance is a new experience. Every sound comes together differently and Fisher moves with the changes each night.
“It’s all about that energy, and being in the moment with people who are with you,” Fisher says.
Algiers lives for the crossovers — the personal and the political, the rock and the electric, the lyric and the melody — and asks listeners to sit in the space between. And on Saturday, you can sit (or sway, dance, or jump) at the Black Cat, where the band is ready to meet D.C.’s energy.