Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

KPCC exclusive with The Airborne Toxic Event's, Mikel Jollett

Ways to Subscribe
"Wrong" off Airborne Toxic Event's new album, "Dope Machines."

You can't force the creative process, but you can indulge in vision quests, bike rides, and food to try and set it off. At least that's worked for Mikel Jollett.

You can't force the creative process.

That's one of the takeaways from a conversation between The Airborne Toxic Event's,

, and Take Two's Alex Cohen regarding the band's newly released album "Dope Machines."

Take, for instance,  the song "California" off the new album.

Jollett was working with writer Linda Perry at the time when it all came together.

"We sat in this big huge studio for a while and we threw melodies back and forth and nothing really stuck. And then I got kind of dizzy because I was feeling light headed, because I didn't eat or something. And so we went into the kitchen... and she like offered me some food and we sat. And then she's like, 'Well what do you think about this?' And she played this little, I wanna say eight seconds of a melody that had a little line about California. And it was like, oh we got something there!... And we just sat there in the kitchen. Multi-million dollar studio and of course we're in the kitchen writing."

Jollett grew up in California, raised, he says, by hippy parents. It was a life full of group weddings, communes and always moving V.W. busses, he says. "I always thought of California as this place you go to get away, to start a new life." But his experiences haven't always matched up with that perfect picture of the Golden State.

"I wanted to write a song that kind of dealt with this daydream of a place that kind of turned into a nightmare, then existed simultaneously as both."

Jollett's not afraid of heady statements or introspective journeys. Take for instance his vision quest, via motorcycle, from the middle of the country to California. That's when he worked out "Hell and Back," which was the lead song in the movie "Dallas Buyers Club."

These songs that Jollett pushes out can be found on the band's fourth studio album, out today.

But those who are interested in more than just one album are in luck. In a radio exclusive, Jollett announced on Take Two that, in addition to "Dope Machines," which is primarily based on beats and synthesizers, the band is releasing a full rock and roll/acoustic album as well.

It's called "Songs of God and Whiskey," and it was recorded in a small studio in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles. The songs were written over the last ten years. Some are old, some are new, but Jollett says that they're close to the group's heart.

Take for instance, the song "Fall of Rome."

"It's a very personal song. It was written for a person who I was with for a long time, and kind of about what it's like to try and have a relationship in the midst of a rock and roll life style where you're gone at a year at a time. And there's so much headiness to it. It's romantic... I think she really liked it. I would write songs about her. Or write songs that she particularly enjoyed. And she hated that I'd be gone. And there's all kinds of stresses that are put onto the relationship... You say the fall of Rome about things that are these massive events... And you know, I think in the song it's used as a device to, this sort of emotional weight that a relationship can carry in your life... You look back on certain points in your life and you're like, oh my god, that was a whole thing and when it ended, it was like the fall of Rome. Like, everything in my life changed overnight because me and this person were no longer together."

Check out the full in studio conversation between Jollett and Cohen in the audio attached to this post.

Stay Connected