These days, it's not easy being Social Animals

Duluth band has to cancel tour while about to issue major label album

by Jim Lundstrom

The Social Animals, from left, Boyd Smith, drums; Dedric Clark, vocals, guitar; Roger Whittet, bass; Tony Peterson, guitar.
The Social Animals, from left, Boyd Smith, drums; Dedric Clark, vocals, guitar; Roger Whittet, bass; Tony Peterson, guitar.

“But I can feel bad things coming 

When I have good things going.” 

That could be the true story of Duluth’s own Social Animals, who while recently in Norway as part of their Europe/U.K tour, get the call – the tour is over. Get home immediately. Ditto the big national tour with Beach Slang, all as a kickoff to this summer’s major label album release and all the subsequent hoopla of touring and such with that. Yes, that, too, has been delayed. 

But even more interesting is that those lyrics at the top are from a song, “Bad Things,” on the new Social Animals EP that drops with radio on May 1. Besides featuring what could be the theme song of the band, the three-song EP rocks with the precision of a well-honed band working with a great singer/songwriter (note the fantastic vocal gymnastics in “Bad Things”). 

“Seems to have an unintended comment on the current situation,” Dedric Clark said in a recent telephone interview. “I’ve been hearing that a lot. People have been saying it’s really timely. Unfortunately. I didn’t plan for that. 

“It’s classic Social Animal. We’ve always made the joke that, somewhere we crashed and have been living in purgatory. Something really good will happen and then a major pandemic happens and takes away our first major European tour. We work so hard and feel like we’re finally making it, and they say, you have to get on a plane and go back home. 

“But,” Clark continued in a way that sounded amazing from someone obviously on the verge of being discovered by the rest of the world, “things could be worse. We could be sick. Our families could be sick. So it’s not that bad. We’re not going to stop now. I don’t think we can at this point. I don’t think we know how to do anything else at this point. We’re not discouraged. We’ve just gotten really tough skin from bad things happening. I think that’s what separates bands that keep going and those that don’t. You have to really believe in it or be really bored.” 

The band was on its Scandinavia leg of the Europe/UK tour when the coronavirus tide turned for the worse. 

“We were in Norway when things got really bad,” he said. “We didn’t get to do the UK side. We had a lot of stuff set up there and the shows were going to be much bigger there. But it became pretty obvious everything was going to shut down. It was shutting down while we were touring.” 

That was to be followed by an American tour at some prestige clubs around the country, ending on Earth Day at the Union Club in Washington, D.C. 

“We’d been to a lot of those spots and I was really looking forward to seeing those rooms again,” he said. 

Clark said it’s hard to know what’s ahead for the band with everything delayed, but he has faith in what he and his bandmates are doing. 

“Right now, I don’t know what the situation is going to be for us on,” he said. “I know there are talks of rescheduling the UK tour. We’re in the process of talking to a couple tours that are planned for the fall that we’re really, really excited about. But right now nothing has been moved and hopefully things are cooled off and people feel safe enough to come out to shows. We’re wondering how soon people are ready to go back and do it. Are they going to be looking forward to getting back out there and having fun or are they going to be too scared?” 

Of course on everyone’s mind is the delay of the major label release, and when it will be released. 

“It was going to be this summer,” Clark said. “Right now it’s really hard to tell. The goal behind it with us being on tour for our first major record and the first time Rise and BMG are behind it, the plan was to get us on a bigger tour right away. It’s tough to say. 

“We’re really proud of this album and I’m really excited for it to come out,” he continued, adding that there will be vinyl. “We’re working on a couple things to put some extras on it, but I don’t know where it’s at at this point.  

Despite the social distancing, the Social Animals remain social. 

“Everybody’s good.” he said. “We keep in touch constantly. We’re so used to playing. All we do is tour. We’re trying to do as much as we can separately. It’s weird, being on the verge of a release with a major label, and then having to completely rework the whole process. But we’re working with it and the label has been amazing. They’re constantly trying to get things moving.” 

Until this thing ends, you can catch up with the Social Animals on YouTube every Saturday at 6 pm, with social media voting for favorite songs.   

“We’re going to be doing YouTube livestreams, I will be anyway, “ he said. “That will be how we keep in touch with listeners at this point because that’s the only way we can. We’ll do that and try to make it as live as possible from my apartment. And at least have a conversation with people since everyone’s so isolated “