From what I can ascertain, the band’s personal experiences have largely dictated the sound and feel and lyrical direction of the records. Is that family aspect what’s moving the band lately?
It always has been the case. We’re in such the early stages of actually putting this record together that I don’t know if that’s going to be the thing that dictates this record. Usually, we find some sort of muse to kind of take the reins and take the direction of the album in a certain way.
Rock Steady was obviously our reconnecting with Jamaican music and especially at that time dancehall music. And it was this weird blueprint that was unfolding in front of us every day when we were making Rock Steady, going back to what we were talking about earlier about how quickly that record unfolded.
I don’t think we’ve found that yet for this record. I don’t know what the running theme is going to be. The one thing we’ve realized is we don’t force things, we don’t push things. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. I think we’ve done this long enough to know that for all of us to be on the same page, if that’s not there, it’s not ready yet, and I think that’s why all four of us were like ‘we need to get out there and play shows again.’ I think we’re still finding ourselves on this record and that’s why I think this summer is going to be hugely important for us.
Still finding yourselves 22 years on.
Yeah, exactly. But I think you have to do that for each record. I think there has to be that moving thing that really inspires you and makes you want to make the best record you can and go into it thinking this might be the last record we ever make. We’ve always been that way, and I think that’s always kind of pushed us into trying different things and also pushing ourselves into making the best records we can make.
Well if you don’t, why bother?
Exactly. Have you been rehearsing?
We have been. We’ve been rehearsing a lot (laughs). It’s been pretty intense. Our schedule is usually 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. every day. That may not sound like a lot, but it is, because we’re working out every morning, getting into shape, interviews, those guys have their kids… We’re delving into some of the songs that we haven’t played in a long time. Putting the set list together is always exciting. We’re about to switch from musical rehearsals into production rehearsals in a couple of weeks.
I’m wondering what your perspective is of how Tragic Kingdom has aged. I’m thinking many of the kids on this upcoming festival and forthcoming tour were the age of these children you’ll be touring with when that record came out. How does that feel when you’re thinking about these songs?
It’s a weird thing. It’s almost impossible for us to really put our finger on it because we’re so close to it. You kind of gauge people’s excitement or their relation to it by reading stuff and what people tell you. I’ve been doing a ton of writing sessions for the past couple years, and without fail, every one of the younger artists that I’m working with, they always cite Tragic Kingdom as the first record or one of the first records they bought.
There’s all these great reference points which to me, not only makes me really happy, but it’s exciting that there’s a whole new group of people that can relate to that record. You’ve also got the people who are our age who came to the Tragic Kingdom tour who could be bringing their kids for the first time. I know Gwen was experiencing that on her solo records, where people are bringing their kids, and you’ve kind of got everything in between, which is good.