In September, the gnarly power trio Krill posted a brief yet potent message to its Facebook page. It read, in part: “we have decided to stop doing/being krill. we have a trillion people to thank for the very very very very good run we’ve had, but it is time for us to do other things.”
The reaction from Boston music observers came quickly; uniformly bummed out, they posted reactions that could have been summed up by the chorus from the band’s clamorous 2013 track “Theme From Krill”: “Krill, Krill forever.”
Paradoxically, perhaps, 2015 was a particularly successful year for Jonah Furman (bass, vocals), Aaron Ratoff (guitar), and Ian Becker (drums). In February, they released their third album, the winding, propulsive “A Distant Fist Unclenching,” to wide acclaim. In May, they played at City Hall Plaza as part of the Boston Calling festival, their twisty songs and Furman’s strangled vocals echoing off the surrounding brick and stone. All year they toured, including their first shows in Europe and an appearance at the Sinclair in honor of their label, Exploding in Sound.
And now they’re closing up shop. Furman and Ratoff have relocated from Boston to Brooklyn, N.Y.; Becker is moving to Austin, Texas. Krill will play two final Boston shows on Thursday at Great Scott, the Allston venue the band considers its area home.
Krill began in 2010 and became one of the bands most associated with Boston’s upstart rock scene, thanks to songs that blew up common rock tropes, lyrics that balanced the existential with the cheeky, and leave-it-all-onstage shows that electrified venues of all sizes. Eventual peers included the likes of Fat History Month (“probably the best band in the world” when Krill were starting out, according to Furman) and the crushingly deconstructionist Pile (immortalized by Krill on the 2013 EP “Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts Into Tears”).
“I know in the early days of Krill, there was a sense that the best bands in Boston at that time were Fat History Month and Pile and Kal Marks and Speedy Ortiz,” noted Ratoff during a recent chat with the band, reached by phone in Brooklyn. “There was a sense, too, that those bands were not only the best bands in Boston, but the best bands you would see that year.”
“There was a strong DIY thing going on for a while,” said Furman. “I don’t know how much of it is myth [but there was] definitely the feeling that you can get started, that you can do a project with no infrastructural support, as long as people, good people, will step up and help you out and care for the first year when nobody else cares.”
Eventually people did care, and Krill became a beacon of the underground rock scene.
“I think the moment I knew Krill was onto something was when [the band’s 2013 album] ‘Lucky Leaves’ came out and everyone had a copy,” said Ben Katzman of BUFU Records, which reissued that album on cassette in 2014. Katzman watched Krill’s reach expand over time at venues like Cambridge’s Plough & Stars and Jamaica Plain’s Midway Cafe: “Whether [the audience] was five, 50, or 100 people, everyone was in awe of them. Every time they played, the turnout would double.”
The announcement of the band’s breakup — matter-of-fact, grateful, signed off with “nice knowin ya” — inspired howls on social media. While those responses didn’t sway the ultimate decision, they did touch the members deeply.
“When we announced that we were breaking up, there were people that were messaging us to let us know how they’ve connected with Krill,” recalled Becker. “They probably didn’t know that receiving those kinds of messages [is] just as important to us as what Krill has been to them.”
But Krill is going out on a high note, coming off a complex, much-hailed album that documented its growth as a band and tours that traveled far beyond Boston’s basements. It’s a natural end, and one that will allow Furman, Ratoff, and Becker to appreciate the band’s run.
“It’s nice to be able to stop doing it when I still feel good about it, and feel good about everything that we were able to do,” said Ratoff. “[The shows will] have people there that still feel good about it and just generally have it be a community moment, the community being anyone who has ever cared.”
“It’s nice to not end out of necessity,” added Becker. “That would be, to me, a horrible thing, where it just gets to the point where it’s like, well, this feasibly cannot go on, and everyone feels bad about it. I think if we did it for another four years, and were just still slogging away . . . I’d probably be grumpy about it. It’s nice to do it like this.”
At Great Scott, Thursday at 6:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets $7 (10 p.m. sold out). 800-653-8000. www greatscottboston.com
Maura Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.