The Airborne Toxic Event drops new studio album ALL AT Once
::Airborne Toxic Event::
By Kayla Bellipanni
After putting out five albums in five years (the latest being only their second proper studio album), The Airborne Toxic Event is headed back to Denver for a soldout show at the Ogden Theatre.
This southern California indie band has matured quickly and amassed a huge following of fanatics — which helped to skyrocket them to success. Their most recent album All at Once rose to number 17 in Billboard’s Top 200 Albums in less than a week.
Five years in the music industry is the equivalent of a lifetime, and The Airborne Toxic Event has managed to stay on top of things and adapt to the ever-changing ideals of modern rock without changing their sound and always leaving listeners wanting more.
All at Once is a different sort of album for the band, though. In the two years since the release of their highly successful self-titled debut, a lot of life has happened. Gripping as it was, the five-piece ensemble’s priorities have shifted. A lot of life means a lot of new experiences to write about.
Vocalist Mike Jollett recently said this album was different because it focused on philosophical and introspective quests. “The album is basically a series of questions, which it sets out to answer. And the biggest is, ‘How do I spend my time? How do I live my life?’” Jollett said. The death of three of his grandparents while he was out on tour, is one of the biggest reasons behind this self-examination.
Though death is not the main theme of the band’s new music, it is subject matter that keeps resurfacing. Jollett claimed he does not deny the existence of sentiments from previous albums, but rather takes a different approach to display the duality between life and death. “When I write a song, I’m trying to get down an emotion, a scene or a setting. Everything important that happens after that happens between the music and the listener; the rest of it is all mythology. The collective interpretation of it is way more important than what I think,” he said.
In his early days, Jollett dreamed of being a novelist — tacking endless collections of ideas to walls and obsessively refining them became little more than a way of life. Though his novel never got him anywhere, those same routines and obsessive attention to detail helped form the “just about perfect” album.
Jollett also credits his upbringing in a hippie commune for his unique songwriting abilities. “There was a lot of love in the house. A lot of those accoutrements that come from growing up in a middle-class household, I don’t feel burdened with. And that seems like a gift, a freedom to do whatever I want,” he said.
This feeling of freedom, however, assured he would never be content in a mainstream environment. In what seemed like a stunt to prove a point, Jollett quit his office job to work on a desert ranch. “I just knew I had to get the fuck out of that. I made the decision that I would rather be homeless than do that anymore. I started reading constantly. I felt like I’d never really had an education, not a standard one anyway, so I’d be shoveling horse manure all day, and then at night I’d work on my novel — which was, to be honest, another form of shoveling horse manure,” he said.
But all of that may have helped Jollett do what he wants to do anyway, and that’s another subject that he addresses on the album.
“With the massive life changes we’ve gone through in the past couple of years — all five of us — there are suddenly all these people wanting you to do this or do that, be this way, be that way, and it screws with your head. So there’s a little bit of like, ‘Can we please just do what we set out to do?’ I don’t want us to be some precious little indie rock band; but nor do I want to pretend I’m in some reverb-soaked fucking post-punk act where I have to act like I never smile and stay up late drinking absinthe in my attic, dripping candle wax on my skin,” Jollett said. “I mean, I want to do music because I want to do music, right? We all do. Because we like to jump around and play songs.”
After the album was done, all that was left was to make sure all the questions that it had begged, had been answered. “All those questions the record asks — at the end,” said Jollett, “the only answer I could come up with was, ‘It’s probably a good idea to love other people.’”
::Airborne Toxic Event::
::Ogden Theatre:: June 2::
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