In an age where social action and resistance are more important than ever, it’s comforting to know that Jeff Rosenstock and Laura Stevenson are not only touring together, but bearing the torch of the DIY ethos.
Last winter, Stevenson released her first live album via Rosenstock’s Quote Unquote Records, with all of the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. Rosenstock, now in the midst of an unexpected career high after the success of 2016’s Worry., is continuing to bring his anti-capitalist, progressive rhetoric to places he never dreamt of (i.e. Pitchfork Music Fest).
“I think it’s cool to be able to contribute to a cause you stand behind by making something,” Stevenson tells City Paper. “I’ve done a bunch of comps and benefit shows for causes I care about and want to support. I like to help in those ways, because I feel like I can see a tangible contribution, a cause and effect.”
Rosenstock and Stevenson both grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and met each other through Rosenstock’s first band, The Arrogant Sons of Bitches. After the ASOBs disbanded, Rosenstock enlisted Stevenson as the keyboardist for his next band, the DIY powerhouse Bomb The Music Industry!. That band maintained a cult following throughout the mid-2000s by way of touring relentlessly and self-releasing gobs of material.
“During that time, he definitely mentored me while I was kind of privately writing songs, and he urged me to play them for people and to get a band together. My first band was basically all of the members of Bomb The Music Industry!,” Stevenson says.
Eventually, around the time Bomb! ended in the early 2010s, Stevenson began putting out her own music. Her first, A Record, was released through Asian Man Records. The next three, her most recent being 2015’s Cocksure, which Rosenstock actually produced, were through the respected indie label Don Giovanni Records.
“It’s very cool to close out that record cycle with a tour with him,” she says.
The month-long run, which is taking them all across the U.S. (and parts of Canada), is particularly special for Stevenson because of her history with Rosenstock, as well as his longtime bassist, John DeDomenici.
“It’s a really nice full circle for me,” Stevenson says. “[Rosenstock and DeDomenici] took me on my first-ever tour, and they taught me how to be in a band and how to book shows. I honestly wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for them.”
When the tour stops in Pittsburgh, fans will get the chance to experience some of the camaraderie that helped birth their respective solo careers in the first place.
“John has been playing bass for me on this tour, and [Rosenstock’s drummer, Kevin Higuchi] has been playing drums, so it has been very collaborative,” she says. “Also, Jeff and I were talking today about what songs he’d want to play guitar on so ... it’s about to get even more fun."