Toxicity 45: Supersized Edition

Posted: September 12, 2014 in Toxicity
Tags: , , , , , ,
Mikel Jollett and Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event bring the noise to Sonic Boom Festival, Edmonton, AB, Aug. 31, 2014. Photo by Creative Copper Images (

Mikel Jollett and Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event bring the noise to Sonic Boom Festival, Edmonton, AB, Aug. 31, 2014. Photo by Creative Copper Images. (

By Glen

Ready or not, here we go. We’re inside of a week until The Airborne Toxic Event’s fall tour lifts off, starting with the already legendary Fillmore residency – and as you can see from this supersized Toxicity, the TATE news cycle is going into overdrive.

At This Is Nowhere, we’re preparing for the busiest couple of weeks in our 14-month history. To wit, here’s what we’ve got coming your way in the next two weeks:

Sept. 14 – Rifflandia review
Sept. 16 – TATE’s Best Album: The Case for Such Hot Blood
Sept. 17 – a special treat to celebrate the Fillmore residency (shhhhh…..)
Sept. 19 – Fillmore Night 1 review
Sept. 20 – Fillmore Night 2 review
Sept. 21 – Fillmore Night 3 review
Sept. 24 – Fillmore reflections
Sept. 26 – Toxicity 46: Fillmore Edition

After that madness, we’re right into the tour proper, with reviews of several more shows including a special acoustic performance in Washington, DC (see below), The Greek show in Los Angeles, and much more.


Fillmore Live Stream

Last month, it was revealed that The Airborne Toxic Event would have a show live-streamed on Yahoo! Live Screen sometime this year. The hopes and dreams of many fans unable to make the pilgrimage to San Francisco have been rewarded with the recent news that the broadcast will take place next Friday, Sept. 19th, live from The Fillmore. Tune in here to catch All At Once night in all its glory.


As the calendar approaches Sept. 18, tour news continues to leak out – whether by design or by accident. A quickly-deleted tweet earlier this week from an L.A. artist falls into the latter category, with a major stage prop evidently having been revealed before its due time. We’ll respect the band’s wishes to keep it under wraps, but having seen said tweet before it disappeared, we can confirm that it’s rather spectacular.

Meanwhile, from the “official news” file comes word that yet another date has been added to the docket – and a very special one at that. With the Oct. 8 gig at Washington, DC’s 9:30 Club having sold out, the band will now pop into town six days prior for an acoustic set at the Lincoln Theatre. The general ticket sale starts tomorrow.

Opening Statement

The question of the support act for the fall tour has also been answered in the form of In the Valley Below, who just so happen to share a manager with The Airborne Toxic Event. The Los Angeles-based duo will open most shows on the tour, with the surprising exception of the L.A. show at The Greek. The Fillmore crowd will also have some variety thrown in. While In the Valley Below will open on Sept. 19, the slot will be filled on Sept. 18 by Kiev, and Sept. 20 by White Arrows.

Here’s a sample of what we can expect from In the Valley Below, whose song “Peaches” has been generating no small amount of buzz this summer.

An Epic Record Deal

You know it’s a busy week when news of a new record deal falls fourth on the list. TATE broke the news on Tuesday:

We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve signed a new record deal with Epic Records. This brings us back with the one and only L.A. Reid, who originally signed us when we joined Island Def Jam back in 2009. It’s great to be working with him again and the whole Epic team, and we can’t wait to put out our new album with them…

I’m the furthest thing from an expert on the record industry, but this looks to be a great move for the band. Just in the last couple weeks Mikel has gone on record saying that he preferred the demo versions of “Numb” and “It Doesn’t Mean a Thing,” but was overruled by the powers that be, and that cutting a minute off “The Secret” was the first and last time he would be overruled by a label. Combined with his recent interview with Darren Rose, in which he was adamant that he isn’t going to let anyone change the songs he’s written for record number four, one suspects that Epic must’ve agreed to give the band full artistic license. Mikel doesn’t seem in a mood to accept anything less than that. So in terms of what they’re going to put out, it appears that on this next album, we’re going to get exactly what Mikel and the band want to give us.

Likewise, on the promotions side, the change can only be an improvement. Island’s promotional approach to Such Hot Blood struck many fans as somewhat lackluster, with some curious decisions made along the way. After that experience (not to mention all the troubles they had releasing SHB in Europe last year), the band was surely cautious before signing on the dotted line this time around. Epic must have given them plenty of reassurance that they’re going to promote them well.

Time will tell, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Epic does with the soon-to-be-released album. It doesn’t appear that we’ll have to wait long to find out.

Mercury Rising

Last Friday marked the birthday of the late Freddie Mercury. The occasion prompted Mikel to drop another hint about the new record:

Let’s all take a moment and wish the late, great, departed genius Mr. Freddy Mercury a very happy birthday. Hearing the a cappella version of “Under Pressure” quite literally changed my life. I thought, “whoa. I need a different approach.” Ergo, this new record. True story. No. Fucking. Joke.

Taken in concert with his vow to Darren Rose to “destroy” the sound of the band, and his off-handed comment yesterday with respect to “The Storm” in comparison to the new album (see below), the stage is certainly being set for something new and different.

No More Lonely Nights

Though we don’t yet have a release date for the album, or even the first single, we can mark down Nov. 18 as a day on which we’ll have something new to add to our Airborne playlists. That’s the release date for The Art of McCartney, a tribute album to the Beatle great. The collection features a diverse and acclaimed set of artists including The Cure, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, Kiss, Def Leppard, Chrissie Hynde, Smokey Robinson, B.B. King, Steve Miller, Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar… and The Airborne Toxic Event, who will cover Macca’s “No More Lonely Nights.”

Toxic Tidbits, Part 3

Mikel’s series of insights into the creation of each song from TATE’s three studio albums is winding down, with just six more entries to be posted on Facebook and Twitter in the week to come. As it’s progressed, his comments have become increasingly long, providing a real window into the mind of the writer. What a treat.

Strange Girl – “The Cure was my favorite band growing up. This song is about the song “The Perfect Girl” — and all those great Cure songs to which I knew every single word — and how much music can mean to you when you’re a kid and how as you get older you hold tighter to ANYTHING that means as much to you as a song did when you were fifteen years old.”

All I Ever Wanted – “Steven and I wrote the basic structure of this song in a hotel room in Kansas City. The words were written in the bunk of a bus in Cologne, Germany. I was reading a collection of Milan Kundera’s stories and was struck by “The Hitchhiking Game” in which a married couple pretends one night to be strangers to one another, the charade leading to all manner of mixed emotions. I miss the line about the virgin bride too.”

The Graveyard Near the House – “This song almost didn’t make the record. The whole album was done and at the final hour I wanted to add this quiet little acoustic song as a sort of epilogue. People were against it. It was really long and wordy and kind of esoteric at times. I never thought it would be something many people would like or understand. Even so “if you die before I die I’ll carve your name out of the sky” might be my favorite line I’ve ever written. The song is about the idea of love as a choice, the absurdity of people becoming inanimate objects when they die, and a certain mermaid named Elizabeth.”

The Secret – “This song was originally much longer. Cutting it down was the first and last time I ever took advice from a label. I wrote this song driving my car around Los Angeles one night when everything felt like some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland… Something about imagining people somewhere else, carefree and dancing… and the first of many ghosts just beyond the headlights.”

Timeless – “I wrote this song for Juliette, my grandmother. It was a kind of angry elegy for the five family members we’d lost in a very short amount of time. Nothing prepares you for it. I think I realized I had spent 10 years writing about death as a concept to be devoured or explored or exploded — without really experiencing it. Up close it wasn’t interesting at all. Just horrible and draining and very very sad. The song is about that grief — mostly for them, for the fact that they don’t get to be alive anymore, for how boring and predictable the world seems without them. And also how after they’re gone, you can still hear them in your head: talking to you, persuading you, sharing a laugh— and you want so badly to make them proud, to become the person they imagined you to be.”

What’s in a Name? – “This was the first song I wrote for this record & the one that made me want to record it with producer Jacquire King. Just felt like one of those great early 80s rock songs that the Heartbreakers would do or T-Rex or Thin Lizzy or something, and he just seemed like the one to capture it. He heard the demo and wanted in on the record, with one stipulation: that we all go to Nashville to make it at Blackbird studios. Which we did, renting a house, inviting friends (the Drowning Men, Mona, etc…), wreaking havoc at Five Points and Santa’s Pub-even taking a three day motorcycle trip to Memphis to pay homage at Graceland. Good times. I love to sing this song. (Am I the only one who used to break into public pools in the winter to skate and tag the walls?)”

The Storm – “The whole approach of this record (unlike the first two, & very unlike the upcoming record) was to just play songs in a room with all natural sounds, no keyboards, no added production — just the five of us and our instruments, our voices. This song, like all the songs on this record, was recorded completely live. Even the vocals were only slightly overdubbed. We played the song five times and chose the one we liked and that’s it. It’s about being seen for the first time, about how you survive things in your life and you bury the events inside you and at some future date somebody unearths them, almost like a witness to the pain you suffered as if to say: my god how long have you been alone with this?”

Watch for “Safe” to appear later today.

Eye Candy

Our friend Jennifer (Creative Copper Images), whose work is frequently featured on This Is Nowhere, captured some outstanding images of the band at work at Edmonton’s Sonic Boom Festival late last month. Readers will be treated to many of these shots in the coming weeks, but you’ll want to check out the full collection here.

More photos of Sonic Boom can be found here, while Colin Kelly offers a review of TATE’s set at X Fest, combined with an ode to “Numb,” here.

Toxic Gold

And last but not least, since I’m a mere six days from FINALLY witnessing this song live, here is “This is Nowhere,” live from SXSW 2007. See you on the other side!

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen 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. Eric Hochstein says:

    What time is the Yahoo/Fillmore live stream on the 19th?


    • Hey Eric, the Yahoo link says 8pm PT, but I don’t think that’s right. My concert ticket says the doors open at 8 and the show starts at 9. With the opening act, TATE wouldn’t hit the stage till around 10, I would think.


  2. Does anybody know where I can find all the demo versions of these songs? I’ve only ever heard Numb (which was surreal, as I’ve been SO accustomed to the studio version).


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