What is an Airborne Toxic Event news writer to do when said band goes weeks – or months – without making any news? Why, make some up, of course!
Okay, so this isn’t really news at all. It’s not even speculation, really. Let’s just call it spitballin’.
In the wake of The Airborne Toxic Event’s ecstatic El Rey residency, the question du jour among TATE fans is:
How long till we get our ears on the new record?
Let’s start with what we know.
Before the residency, the band threw a little cold water on the notion that the string of shows signaled the imminent arrival of a new album, saying:
The El Rey Residency is not the start of a record cycle. It’s not a showcase. It’s not even a finished product...
We have new songs and we want to play them for you before we make a new record. Like the old days. We miss that.We want to sweat and jump, clap and scream, whisper and sing with you. Then maybe we’ll record it.
Over the course of four nights, more details emerged. To wit:
- Mikel Jollett has been writing for 18 months
- The band has been working together on the new material for 6 months
- At the time of the residency, recording sessions had not begun
- As of March 23, the album’s producer had not been finalized (though the band’s first choice was in attendance that night)
- A proper tour (which would presumably be connected to the album’s release) could happen next year – or possibly late this year
An added consideration is that, so far as we know, the band is between labels at the moment. Epic Records, which released 2015’s Dope Machines, no longer lists The Airborne Toxic Event among their artists on their website. Now, it’s entirely possible that the band has a deal worked out with another label and just hasn’t announced it yet. Or, perhaps they are planning for an independent release. It’s also possible that they are currently homeless.
The history of the band’s previous releases is instructive.
After recording throughout 2012, the band debuted seven songs from the forthcoming Such Hot Blood at the Troubadour on Sept. 17. By all accounts, the album seemed very close to finished. Still, it would be another 7.5 months before it would see the light of day on April 30, 2013.
Fast forward to May 2014, when Mikel, in an extended interview with Darren Rose, revealed that he had been working alone on the record that would become Dope Machines, and that in his mind, the material was nearly release-ready. A fall tour was booked, and the first new songs were debuted in August 2014. At Lollapalooza, the band suggested the record would be out before year’s end. Shortly thereafter they signed with Epic, delays ensued, and Dope Machines was ultimately released on February 24, 2015 – approximately 7 months after the first songs were debuted and the hype machine shifted into gear.
The surprise album Songs of God and Whiskey was also released that day, having been recorded almost on a lark over the course of just a few weeks. As much as we’d all love to see that kind of turnaround again, this was certainly an anomaly and not something that is likely to be repeated.
Given the 7-8 months that elapsed between the ostensible completion (or near-completion) of Such Hot Blood and Dope Machines and their release dates, and considering that this new album does not seem to be as far along as those two records were when they were first announced, it seems reasonable to expect that it will be at least that long before Record #6 drops. That would put us very close to the end of 2017 at the earliest, with an early 2018 release perhaps even more likely.
Of course, the band may surprise. The rapturous reception at the El Rey surely lit a fire to move forward as quickly as possible, and the extended period of work that Mikel and his mates have already put into these songs can only bode well when it comes time to officially lay down the tracks. An accelerated timeline could certainly be in the cards.
That said, this is clearly an extremely personal album to Mikel, and he’s much more concerned with getting it right than getting it done quickly. And that’s exactly as it should be.
Given all these factors, I’m crossing my fingers for fall/winter, preparing for early next spring, and hoping like hell it comes sooner than I expect.
This much we know: whenever it lands, it will be well worth the wait.
Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere and author of Toxic History: The Story of The Airborne Toxic Event. 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.