The Wallflowers

Oct 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Blair Jackson

JAKOB DYLAN & CO. COME ROARING BACK WITH GLAD ALL OVER

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L to R: Jakob Dylan, Greg Richling, Jack Irons, Stuart Mathis, Rami Jaffee

L to R: Jakob Dylan, Greg Richling, Jack Irons, Stuart Mathis, Rami Jaffee

It’s been seven years since The Wallflowers put out an album of new material. During the interim, leader Jakob Dylan made acclaimed solo projects with Rick Rubin (Seeing Things) and T Bone Burnett (Women + Country), and there were Wallflowers tours in 2007 and 2009, but Dylan acknowledges, “I was anxious to be back with the guys and make a Wallflowers record. I felt if I was going to make more of a rock ’n’ roll record, there was no purpose for me to do that except with The Wallflowers. We were getting along during our break, and there was no reason to replace them with another band—I’d probably try to make them sound like The Wallflowers.”

Founding keyboardist Rami Jaffee returned to the fold after his own several-year hiatus, and bassist Greg Richling, who’d been with the band since their first tour in 1992, was also onboard. Guitarist Stuart Mathis was with the group on its last couple of tours and is now a full-fledged member. The only new addition is drummer Jack Irons, who was the original drummer in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and also has played with Pearl Jam, Eleven, Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade, Joe Strummer and others.

The group’s superb new album, Glad All Over, was recorded in a month at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Studios in Nashville, with Collin Dupuis engineering and Jay Joyce producing. Rich Costey mixed the album. Joyce already had a connection to the band—the much in-demand musician/producer/composer/engineer played guitar on The Wallflowers’ multi-Platinum 1996 album, Bringing Down the Horse, and the follow-up, Breach, and had stayed in touch with Dylan.

“When we were starting this record and talking about who to work with, his name kept coming up,” Dylan says. “His name is on the top of a lot of people’s lists. If that’s going to satisfy record company people and I know I can work with him, that’s great—I don’t have to break in somebody new. And he’s actually a part of our sound. [The Wallflowers’ hit] ‘One Headlight’—that’s Jay Joyce. He’s a killer guitar player. He and Stuart Mathis really bounced off one another so well. They hadn’t played together before and they play wildly different styles, but we could tell that they were going to have something together that was going to become quite a bit of the foundation of the record.”

The Wallflowers <i>Glad All Over</i> album art.

The Wallflowers Glad All Over album art.

Though the album was ultimately tracked almost entirely live through Easy Eye’s 16-channel Quad Eight board, getting to that point wasn’t so easy. Joyce remembers, “Jakob came to Nashville and we sat down and I asked him to play me a song, but instead he pulled out this 2-inch-thick notebook. ‘This is what I’ve got. Let’s play some grooves and throw it around.’ I thought, ‘Wow, that’s kind of scary, but it’s exciting.’ So we didn’t really know going in what we were going to do. We had no songs, no demos. It was all developed in the studio. I think Jakob always has some songs floating around up there, but there was nothing written in stone. And the process was crazy because we didn’t have a lot of time—a month! A week into it was I like, ‘Oh, my God, we’ve got nothing!’ So there was a lot of waiting and trusting that it was going to come, and then things started falling together.”

“It was a hunch,” Dylan adds. “Musically, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time stretching out looking for interesting chord patterns. I thought the band knew what they were doing. I wanted to create these songs together. In the past, I might bring in 15 songs already completed with intros and outros and bridges. I’ve done so much of that work on my own, which I was cool with doing, but it also denies the band a lot of opportunities. One of the things we all agreed upon was let’s do it the way we did it when we started out in 1992, which is: We had a rehearsal space and we got in there and made songs.”

Joyce: “It started out as just jamming on grooves, pretty much, and some songs evolved from jam sessions that we would speed up or slow down—‘Oh, that’s the right pocket for that lyric.’ A lot of it was in-the-moment working on the right canvas for Jakob to try lyrics out on. He was bouncing around trying lyrics from different songs. We’d find a hook and build from there. Once we had the song together, it sometimes would take a day or two to get the right take, but once we did, most of the work was done.”

The producer describes Easy Eye as “an old-school studio designed for live recording—lots of bleed, lots of bass in the kick drum mic, drums in the bass mic, guitar everywhere, organ everywhere. It’s a great rock ’n’ roll room and basically we made a record the way people used to make records.”

The result is the band’s best work since Bringing Down the Horse. Glad All Over contains some of Dylan’s most evocative mood pieces and character studies, and the band—with Joyce right in there with them—rocks harder than ever, but also brilliantly conveys the dark mystery at the heart of so many of their finest songs.

Click "Next" to read an extended interview with Jakob Dylan and Jay Joyce.






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