This rare Monday edition of Toxicity is brought to you by Lollapalooza, where The Airborne Toxic Event absolutely killed it with a blistering 45-minute set that couldn’t even be dampened by the torrential downpour that struck midway through their performance. And yet, it was a number of off-stage revelations that had TATE fans buzzing last night and into today.
Farewell Noah, Hello Adrian
The number one question that’s been on the lips of fans for the past several months was finally answered yesterday. In an interview with iHeart Radio that was published shortly before the band took the stage, The Airborne Toxic Event confirmed that Adrian Rodriguez is now a permanent member of the band, replacing original bassist Noah Harmon, who began an indefinite baby leave back in January.
Asked by interviewer Kennedy if Adrian was an interim member of the band, frontman Mikel Jollett shook his head and replied, “No, he’s in the band.” He then went on to confirm that Noah’s paternity leave has morphed into a permanent departure. (See the 12:10 mark in the video below.)
Fans are left to process the news, and reactions have been all over the map, as one might expect: everything from grief to anger to denial to appreciation to excitement about what lies ahead for the band.
There’s no question that the outgoing member leaves some huge shoes to fill. He shared songwriting credits with Mikel, and his refined musicianship and flare for the dramatic helped define both the sound and image of the band. He was a highlight of every live show they ever played together. And how many bassists have you ever seen use a bow on a guitar?
And yet, Adrian is himself an accomplished player with an established and growing rapport with his new bandmates. His style is a departure from Noah’s exuberant showmanship, to be sure, but he has filled in admirably over the past six months since he took over for original replacement Ashley Dzerigian. And he’s clearly up for a challenge, having accepted the daunting task of learning Airborne’s entire back catalog in preparation for the September residency in San Francisco.
Here at This Is Nowhere, we bid a fond “see ya later” to Noah. You helped create the soundtrack to our lives, and we will be forever appreciative; the mark you have left on this band will never disappear. You’ve given us countless on-stage moments that we will never forget, and like all the other members of the band, you’ve been profoundly gracious to your fans off-stage. We are grateful for the time we’ve had. We will miss you, and we’ll be watching with great interest to see what the future holds for you. Our best wishes to you and your family. Thank you for everything.
To Adrian we say, “Welcome to the family.” That’s what The Airborne Toxic Event is – not just a band, but a family. Having recently adopted a child, I know well what it means to bring a new member into the fold, and how critical it is to have the full support of everyone around you – and we intend to give it to you. We’re excited to see you on the road this fall, and to discover what new dynamics you’ll bring to the group. It takes tremendous courage to do what you’re doing – thank you for taking the challenge! We are behind you.
And finally, to our fellow fans, there is no “right way” to feel about all this. Without being overly melodramatic, for some it’s almost as if there’s been a death in the family. And that being the case, we need to give each other the respect and the space and the support to each process it in our own way. However you might be feeling, we do hope you will give the new TATE a chance. Yes, things will be different, and there’s both a good and a bad side to that. Having seen them at Boonstock and on yesterday’s stream, we find it hard to fathom that some would come away from those performances feeling like they hadn’t got their money’s worth. But regardless of that, this band has given us so much over the past eight years, and now they need our support. Let’s prove again that Airborne fans are the best fans. Or as one fan, Kaelee, so eloquently put it:
Noah was an important member of the band to all of us and this announcement is something out of our control. What isn’t out of our control is our support of the band and our support of Adrian. Which is what we need to focus on right now. I’m excited to see what the band has in store for us! I’m excited to see what Adrian’s skills and vibes bring to their sound and their live performances! He isn’t replacing Noah, no one can do that. He is becoming a new and exciting part of the band!
Album 4 Coming This Fall
That bombshell aside, a number of enticing tidbits have also been dropped concerning The Airborne Toxic Event’s upcoming fourth album. First, the band confirmed on their website and in a fan e-mail “that there will be new music coming this Fall.” Then, in a brief interview that aired prior to the live-stream of their Lollapalooza set, they placed the timeline for the album’s release at under six months, with the first single to drop “much sooner” than that. An interview that aired on SiriusXM a few hours later saw Mikel revealing that the first single will be one of “Dope Machines” or “California” – the two songs that were debuted Friday at Boonstock and which were played again at Lollapalooza. In that same Q&A, the singer referenced a third song from the album, titled “Wrong.” Things are clearly ramping up!
Oh yeah… did we mention that the band played a little gig on Sunday? TATE’s Lollapalooza appearance surely must be classified as one of their most scorching festival sets to date. They attacked the stage with a ferocity that was impressive even by their hot-blooded standards. They ripped through the two new songs, which were enthusiastically received by both the live audience and TATE fans watching from living rooms around the world. By the time they climaxed with “Sometime Around Midnight,” the crowd was positively apeshit, scarcely noticing the buckets of rain soaking them to the bones.
With six weeks to go till the fall tour, this much seems clear: The Airborne Toxic Event is ready to enter a new era with guns blazing.
(Note: if you missed the live stream – or if you just need to experience it again – keep an eye on the Lollapalooza YouTube channel in the coming days, as they are posting full sets there.)
Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.