Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Thievery Corporation

THIEVERY CORPORATION. (Photo: Courtesy of Andrzej Liguz)
THIEVERY CORPORATION. (Photo: Courtesy of Andrzej Liguz)

Frederick, Md. native Rob Garza, who founded Thievery Corporation with Eric Hilton in Washington, D.C. in 1995, moved to the Bay Area several years ago. He said that when he comes back to the Washington, D.C. area, he doesn’t recognize it much anymore because of how much the city has changed.

“I think cities are very different in general with a lot of people moving into the cities,” Garza said. “So D.C. is a very – I kind of miss the old D.C. to be honest. I come back to some of the old places and it’s like I don’t recognize because of the super gentrification of D.C. It’s very strange for me because I feel like it’s kind of a different place.”

Garza and Hilton grew up in the same D.C. that fostered one the world’s strongest punk communities. Garza said that he remembers going to shows at the 9:30 Club in his youth, which is why his return to one of the more important venues to that scene is special.

Thievery Corporation is coming home for a trio of shows at the 9:30 Club this weekend – Thursday, Dec. 15 – Saturday, Dec. 17 – but they are already sold out.

If Garza looks hard enough, he’ll see some familiar sights, but the “super gentrification” that he spoke about to the News-Press is literally looming over the 9:30 Club. The Atlantic Plumbing building, a mixed-use complex with an upscale movie theatre, hipster shopping options and apartments that opened in 2015, towers over the famous music venue and is right next door to it.

Luckily for those who end up missing out on the Thievery Corporation shows at 9:30, the dub/lounge/electronica collective is putting out a new album on February 10, 2017 called The Temple of I & I. Garza said that whereas their last album Suadade, which was released in 2014, was a “palate cleanser,” the upcoming album will see Thievery return to a more traditional sound.

“With this album it’s nice to take a break from what we usually do because on albums we kind of go through a lot of different genres in an album,” Garza said. “So it’s nice for the last album to be sort of a palate cleanser and now we’re ready to get back to the beats and stuff.”

The usual artists who have been featured on Thievery Corporation records in the past – Mr. Lif, Loulou Ghelickhani, Notch and Ras Puma – will make a return on The Temple of I & I. But the Jamaican singer Racquel Jones, who will be featured on this upcoming album, is a new collaborator to the group.

The Temple of I & I was chosen as the title of the new album, Garza said, “mainly because it sounds cool.” Perhaps it’s also a nod to Garza and Hilton’s punk roots – this year is the 30th anniversary of I Against I, the third studio album from the seminal D.C. punk band Bad Brains. One of the constants in Thievery Corporation’s music is a certain punk ethos – the D.I.Y. attitude of the band is reflected in their entire catalog being self-released, they have a gnarly band name that asks more questions than it answers and they aren’t afraid to speak up and speak to truth to power.

“The world is pretty crazy right now,” Garza said. “In our music, it’s not really about partisan politics, you know, Republicans versus Democrats. It’s kind of like larger conscious messages. Things that are more universal than just applied to the United States.”

• For more information about Thievery Corporation, visit thieverycorporation.com.