"Take it from somebody who knows." The opening words to Protomartyr's new single, "Blues Festival," are sung by frontman Joe Casey, but they could easily refer to the song's star guest vocalist, Kelley Deal of the Breeders. Deal has lived through a lot in the past 20-plus years, from opening for Nirvana in the early '90s to doing the whole "reunion" thing with her identical twin sister Kim, to releasing small-batch 7" singles by her most recent project, R. Ring.
Kelley Deal spends most of "Blues Festival" in the shadows, emerging only to drive home the song's central tenet in a lyric sheet full of advice to young bands: "Don't get ahead of yourself." Casey handles the rest, rattling off "universal truths" that might benefit aspiring artists and music-industry execs alike. In keeping with the Detroit post-punk band's dead mood, each line of real talk begins with what not to do: "Don't look for a hit where there is none." "Don't heed the words of the digital throng." "Don't get drunk on the phantom power."
But "Blues Festival" isn't entirely dogmatic. Underground cred can come at a cost, of course. In the song's other striking listicle, Casey acknowledges the downside to not thinking big and not chasing the dream: "Hell is singing straight into the void / Hell is forever being local support / Hell is opening up a five-band bill / Hell is headlining the Blues Festival."
"Blues Festival" will be released June 16 on a split single with R. Ring called A Half Of Seven.