Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Oct 9th 2012 4:05PM by Kenneth Partridge
"Welcome Jack, the new drummer," Dylan sings, getting everyone up to speed. "He jammed with the mighty Joe Strummer."
He's talking about recent addition Jack Irons, a former member of Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers who did, indeed, back the iconic Clash frontman on a 1989 solo album. As if scanning the studio, Dylan then moves on to his keyboardist, bass player, lead guitarist and producer: "I see Rami [Jaffee], Greg [Richling] and Stuart [Mathis]/ I have to say, Jay [Joyce], we've had it coming."
Dylan is back with the old gang after Seeing Things (2008) and Women & Country (2010), both well-received solo efforts that saw him unplugging his guitar and delving further into the Americana influences that have always been present in his music. Chatting by phone with Spinner, he explains how and why the Wallflowers reunion came together.
"We all kept talking the whole time," Dylan says. "We all watched what each other were doing and stayed in touch. I made the two records I wanted to make, and I definitely wanted to make a rock 'n' roll record. If I was going to do that, there's no other group I'd rather do it with than the Wallflowers."
Two decades after its self-titled debut, the group opted for a new approach. On such albums as Bringing Down the Horse -- the 1996 sophomore smash that yielded the hits "6th Avenue Heartache," "The Difference," "Three Marlenas" and "One Headlight" -- Dylan came to the studio with finished songs. This time, he opened the floor to his fellow musicians, encouraging group jams he'd put lyrics to later.
"We'd messed with that before, but this one was done pretty much exclusively that way," he says. "The band were all writers on this record, which is something we were talking about doing, getting the burden a bit off of me and everyone else getting to explore writing a bit more."
The looser writing process fit with what Dylan describes as the overall spirit of Glad All Over, which was recorded in Nashville at Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound studio.
"We decided if we were going to get together, it should be nothing but a good time," Dylan says. "Which doesn't mean it's void of thoughtfulness and the stuff we usually do. We figured out we could put a little more joy in these records than we had with the last few. We discussed a lot of our favorite music and got back to basics and kept it really simple. We put more of it into grooves than chord sequences."
"Reboot the Mission" offers proof of that. The Wallflowers don't just name-check Strummer -- they go one better and team with ex-Clash guitarist Mick Jones to create a fluid, reggae-and hip-hop-inspired track very much reminiscent of the legendary U.K. group's more danceable fare.
"We're not gonna pretend we stumbled upon that," says Dylan, who grew up idolizing the Clash. "We did that on purpose. But we'd had a lot of discussions about that stuff. There's the really dominate Clash songs everyone knows, but there was a lot of stuff on Sandinista! or the second side of London Calling that was very different than some of the more topical or radio songs people knew."
"We always appreciated that, and there seems to be a space missing," he adds. "No one was really attempting to do that -- to do these songs that people could dance to. But it wasn't dance music, per se. It was a rock band somehow pulling it off and not in a modernized way you hear today, where people are begging to be in that form."
And besides, rock 'n' roll is supposed to be dance music, so in that sense, Dylan hears "Mission" as more "natural" than contrived.
"That four-on-the-floor beat you hear at the top of that song shouldn't be that foreign to people that listen to the Wallflowers," he says. "That's nearly the same drumbeat as 'One Headlight.' It's just everything else has shifted."
Sadly, scheduling conflicts kept Jones from making the trip to Nashville, but through the magic of the Internet, he also lent his fretwork to "Misfits and Lovers," a Glad All Over standout he said reminded him of Public Image Ltd. and Mott the Hoople, Dylan reports.
The band sent Jones "Mission" and "Misfits" thinking he'd pick one, but much to their delight, he found himself gravitating toward both. In pulling off the collaboration, Jakob may have one-upped papa Bob, who writes in his memoir, Chronicles, that he wishes he'd tapped the Clash guitarist for his Oh Mercy-era band.
"That's not something I was conscious of," Dylan says, asked if his dad's book inspired him to contact Jones. "But I think I read that same thing. I think there was a possibility to do some touring. I'm not sure if it was a record, but I don't think anybody denies the magic and brilliance of Mick Jones and what he does. That wouldn't surprise any of us that [my father] might have thought of him."
The Jones-assisted tunes are two of the more dance-floor-friendly cuts, and while Dylan says Glad All Over "leans forward and has a push that might be different to people," he cautions anyone against thinking the Wallflowers have dug up their roots. Over the years, critics have referred to the band as "dependable," dropping that word in the same way it's used to describe, say, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Dylan isn't one to argue.
"I take that as a complement -- of course," he says. "I think most people in most bands are not dependable. I think that's a good quality. I think we are. I don't think we ever get too far off the mark, but at the same time, you want to be available to stretch out, which we do."
"If dependable doesn't mean that," he adds, "then I don't know."