By Glen

Major lesson learned this week: do not write Toxicity in advance.

I thought I’d get ahead of the game by writing this post a week before I planned to release it… and then I discovered just how much can change in a week. With the surprise announcement and snap release of a new single, Hell and Back, much of what I’d prepared immediately became outdated. So, what follows is a hybrid of old and new. Bear with me… by the end of it, we should have everything covered.

After a lean summer for TATE news, The Airborne Toxic Event train is rolling again. The fall leg of the Such Hot Blood tour is in full swing (and the band is already throwing our tour setlist analysis into chaos with a new opening number, Safe, in Columbia and the tour debut of This is London in Richmond); the European edition of the album (complete with two new songs) dropped on Friday (in some countries, anyway); and Mikel was hinting at exciting things soon to come – a promise that was fulfilled even sooner than I’d expected. Lots to get to in this week’s Toxicity.

Such Hot Blood: Back Story

Not surprisingly, the return to the road means that band interviews are popping up all over the place. Three Q&A’s in particular have provided fans with plenty of juicy tidbits on which to chew. The first actually comes from back in June, ahead of the Toronto show, but it contains so many nuggets of insight that we just have to cover it here. As is typical with an Airborne interview, Steven and Mikel meander their way through a myriad of topics, from fan tattoos (“We made a vow to never have people be embarrassed by their tattoos”) to the writing process, to musical influences. Most interesting, though, are a couple of revelations pertaining to songs recorded for Such Hot Blood. In the run up to the album release, Mikel on numerous occasions referenced the title track. As we now know, the album has no title track. So whatever became of Such Hot Blood, the song? Mikel and Steven explain:

Last time we spoke for an article [in July of 2012], you said, “The first song on the record is actually a song from six years [ago]. It’s actually the title track of the record.” There’s no tune on the record called ‘Such Hot Blood’.

Mikel: Oh yeah. It got cut. It just wasn’t happening. It felt six years old to me. What did you think, Cheny?

Steven: I liked it. We had a good time recording it. I think as a piece for the album, for all the other songs on the record, they maybe felt more cohesive.

Mikel: That one kind of just didn’t quite fit in.

It’s a shame the band didn’t see fit to include the track alongside the other bonus material on the newly released Euro edition. Fans can only hope to one day get a listen. But in the meantime, we do have Dublin and The Way Home to satiate us – and Mikel spoke about the latter’s connection to another song on the album:

(‘The Secret’) started as a whole other song. That started off as a song called ‘The Way Home’. Then we were trying to arrange that in 10 different ways. It wasn’t quite working. Then one of the arrangements we thought was really cool. We were like, “Well, what happens if that’s just a song?” I took that, and wrote a song for it called ‘The Secret’.

It will be fun to look for connections between The Secret and The Way Home in the days to come.


Meanwhile, Recoil caught up with Mikel during his downtime over the summer. The wide-ranging interview covers almost everything you can think of, from the touring life, to his summertime cross-country motorcycle trip, to his songwriting process, to the Such Hot Blood recording sessions, to his favorite song from the new album to play live
(Bride and Groom), to Mikel’s feelings on the music business. But they saved the best for last, as Mikel dropped a tantalizing promise just before signing off:

We have some curveballs to throw out in the next few weeks, but we’re always just hard at work. We’re always hard at work on something, but I just can’t tell you what yet. The short answer is there’s a lot more stuff coming.

Noah Harmon and The Airborne Toxic Event perform in Philadelphia, PA, where the debuted now song Hell and Back. Photo taken by TATE fan Ryan Macchione.

Noah Harmon and The Airborne Toxic Event perform in Philadelphia, PA. Photo taken by TATE fan Ryan Macchione.

Fans immediately started connecting the dots. What could the curveballs be? Mikel did drop a tweet this summer that he’d written a new song that day. And then, we had Anna commenting early last week that “learning music on the bus first thing in the morning a good day doth make.” More cryptically, Steven and Anna posted near-matching messages on Instagram. Could be nothing. Probably is nothing. But then, you never can tell…

Of course, we now know exactly what Mikel was referring to, after the band announced and then almost immediately released a bold new song, Hell and Back (which we reviewed here). Seven days ago, no one had heard of this recording. Now, it’s been released to radio, debuted live, and rumors (unconfirmed at this point) suggest that it may be available for purchase on iTunes as early as tomorrow. How’s that for a surprise? And best of all, Mikel’s comments seem to indicate that there is more good news to come.

Mikel also took to social media over the weekend to explain the genesis of Hell and Back, and the reasons for its sudden appearance.


More on Mikel’s Writing

Mikel’s writing process is a constant source of fascination. Charleston City Paper is the latest to delve into it. Here, Mikel again identifies Bride and Groom as his personal favorite:

It’s about nostalgia, the silent, pained existence of bitterness, nostalgia, and romance… There’s a sense of letting go and a sense of futility between the two characters, but then there is also a very strong sense of holding on and also a narrative element where you almost get a glimpse into their little interplay and how each of them feel about the events that happened, how each of them romanticized what happened with the other and how each of them romanticized the fatalism.

Toxic Gold

We leave you with some vintage Toxic Gold. After laughing his way through an attempt at a super-cheesy intro, Mikel shares his impressions of his band mates, and discusses the band’s unexpected ascension in this Rehearsal Space feature.

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.

  1. Jen says:

    Love your Toxicities ❤


  2. Susan says:

    So many fun things happened last week, I’m glad someone is filing them away in some kind of order! I don’t want to appear greedy, but dare we hope for another surprise or two? Fingers crossed.


  3. Marc Kushner says:

    Another great Toxicity Glen.


  4. Couldn’t help but notice you mention the pacific northwest – where I have had the distinct pleasure of seeing the band a couple of times – and also have an understanding wife that allows me to indulge myself in TATEs music


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