One of the most critically acclaimed rock bands of the past two decades has made a comeback. The Wallflowers released five albums that weren’t just well-received by their fans, they were well-received by critics too, something that’s fairly rare. But after their last album for Interscope, Rebel, Sweetheart, the band went away. They didn’t necessarily break up; they seemingly just went off into the sunset. Led by Jakob Dylan, you knew the members of the band would go on to do other things. Dylan himself released two amazing solo records. In a recent interview with Alternative Addiction, Jakob Dylan talked about The Wallflowers getting back together to make another album, the highly anticipated Glad All Over.
“We planned on it. Time is tight when everybody gets busy,” said Dylan on the reunion that took years to complete. “We took a break and everybody scattered and had commitments. I think we all did our different things for quite a while and we all gained a little bit of perspective and appreciation of what it’s like to have a band. We were all anxious to get back to it.”
The lineup of the band has always shifted over the years, something that happens in groups. It’s not shocking that this adaptation of The Wallflowers has a couple of new faces, but it’s also not surprising that the three core members of the band, who seemingly have always been there, are there this time too.
“In some regards people have been saying that the band is getting back together and it’s a reunion I suppose,” started Dylan. “That’s accurate as well as it’s not so accurate. What is accurate is the band has always been Rami Jaffee, Greg Richling, and myself. We’re the ones who’ve been there since the start. Greg came on touring for the debut record so he’s been there for twenty years, but what’s been consistent through all of the years is that the three of us have been there and that’s really what’s the core of the sound.”
“Then we had a great opportunity with the drum seat getting freed up and that allowed us to bring Jack Irons in. I suppose Jack Irons wanting to be in a band again- that was a gift for anybody who might be aware that he wanted to join. So we lucked out that he was interested in doing that again right at the time when we needed somebody. Stuart Mathis has been touring with us for the last seven or eight years or so, he just hadn’t had a chance to record a record. I know most bands say it, but I can say it, and truly believe it, that it’s the best the band has ever been. It’s the most solidified, simple, and powerful the band has ever been.”
With the core of the band being back and the legendary Jack Irons behind the drums there’s going to be a number of people agreeing with Dylan on this lineup. But if any band is going to be unified after a number of years away, some things are going to need to be done different. With the group’s new album the band took a different approach to writing songs. When asked if Dylan came in to the studio with songs ready to go, his response gave way to a clear indication that things were being done differently with this record.
“I went in with just a couple of songs really. I had written most of my lyrics, but the band had talked about really getting in there performing these songs rather than me coming in with songs designed already. We were just kind of going to shape them there. But that’s only possible for me if I bring all the lyrics with me and I hadn’t really set them in music yet. The band wanted to be more involved with writing and I wanted some help with in that regard. Having to write fifteen songs is a burden at times to go in to get started. I went in with just a couple and a stack of lyrics. We just sorted it all out there; everybody came with great ideas and lots of enthusiasm. We kept it in the rehearsal space and shaped it all on the spot.”
The recording of the album was done a little differently too. That’s something that The Wallflowers have been really good at over the years, whether they’re working with T-Bone Burnett or whoever, they know how to work in the studio. For Glad All Over, they decided to work with Jay Joyce. He’s a familiar face- having played with the band years ago, and he’s now an established producer.
“Jay’s kind of an extended member of the group as it is. He’s worked hard for a number of years and become a real reputable producer as well. We’ve known him since 1995 when he played guitar with us on Bringing Down the Horse. He played on Breach as well. He’s obviously an extremely talented guy but his name comes across as an A-list producer now, which satisfies record company people and that type. But to me, it was a feeling like it was one less person that I had to get to know. I already like Jay. I already know he’s good.”
Working with Joyce makes sense because the way he works cooperates with how The Wallflowers work in the studio. They’re not big believers in the digitally focused production environment. They use it- but it’s not the focus of everything involved in making a Wallflowers record. It’s about being in the studio working together and recording together too.
“Coming back to it and realizing that it’s much simpler than bands tend to think about. We kind of cleared the air and we went back to basics with trusting one another and trusting the process. The thing that was on my mind the entire time was its music and it’s meant to be performed. People get lost quite a bit getting into studios and thinking that that’s its own separate environment where you have these tools where you get to scrap music together- cut/paste and look at it on these screens. I think that’s something that happened over time. There’s a place for that, I’m not adverse to technology. I just think bands have got to put on those instruments and they’ve got to interact. That’s where the good stuff is.”
Chemistry isn’t something that the band lacked this time around. With Richling, Jaffee, Mathis, and Dylan playing together for so long and Irons being able to seamlessly merge with bands, it wasn’t a big deal. However, everyone’s experiences away from the group contributed to some new energy in the studio.
“Everybody brought back so much more information than they left with. With the last record it’d be fair to say that we were kind of losing the plot a little bit. People were starting to diverge and we lost some focus on what the band’s output should be. Coming back to it now everybody was able to spend that time thinking that if we’re going to get back together here’s what we’d like to be doing and kind of straighten ourselves out a little bit. It was much like getting back on a bike but it was also felt like we were 21 again. As much as we had a lot more information, what that information teaches you, is that less information was better when you started before things got complicated.”
Moving onto what the band will be doing on tour this fall and what they’ve done in spots over the summer, Dylan has enjoyed playing the new music, but he’s also enjoyed playing the old music too. Playing some of the older material has allowed Dylan to look back at what he and his guys have been able to do.
“It’s great playing new songs and the reaction was great to that but I was kind of overwhelmed with being proud of the catalogue the band has built up and what some of these songs have meant to people. I always wanted that. The band hit really hard and we got really busy with Bringing Down the Horse, but we had one record to play. We had a first record but we didn’t get too much into that. We did a lot of work and we toured for over two years with a small selection of songs. Bands find themselves doing cover songs or doing whatever it takes to fill that time. To come back now it’s nice to have arguments over set lists because you have too many good choices.”
Dylan continued, “Seeing the reaction of what a lot of those older songs have meant to people and that they’re still so relevant to them that they hope we play it to them is great. I’m grateful because we came up in a time where music didn’t translate in that way. For whatever reason, some of those songs really connected to people in a way that I think is unusual. I think bands go through a time where they almost resent some of those few songs but I’ve got nothing but appreciation for the band having those songs and getting those reactions from people.”
Frank Turner recently took the time to talk with Alternative Addiction about working with Rich Costey and how people interpret music.
Dropkick Murphys Release Boston Charity EP
Dropkick Murphys are excited to announce the release of "Rose Tattoo: For Boston Charity EP". The Ep features three songs, including a newly recorded version of the band's song "Rose Tattoo" featuring Bruce Springsteen.