Does The Airborne Toxic Event ever sleep? If their schedule of late is any indication, rest is in short supply indeed. When they aren’t playing to rabid crowds in sweaty venues around the U.S., they are pumping Dope Machines on television, announcing new show dates and granting interviews as far away as South Africa. Buckle up for a whirlwind trip through a cornucopia of TATE news.
Coming Soon: Half a Dozen Videos and Tour Dates Galore
Overdrive Magazine is a very cool interactive online music magazine out of South Africa. As that nation prepares for their first live Airborne Toxic Event experience at next month’s Freedom Festival, Overdrive tracked down Mikel Jollett for a very informative recorded interview that digs into the new albums and the band’s plans for 2015. Asked what’s on tap for the rest of the year, Mikel responded: “God, it’s exhausting when I think about it. Probably about 150 tour dates, and we’re doing a bunch of TV stuff, and we’ve got a ton of videos to shoot – I think we’ve got six coming up.”
That certainly sounds promising! Thus far, Airborne has 33 dates announced for 2015, including those that have already happened, – a tour schedule that expanded by two this week when appearances at Philadelphia’s Radio 104.5 Block Party (May 3) and Salt Lake’s X96 Big Ass Show (May 8) were announced. So, even allowing for some hyperbole on the 150 figure, it’s clear that there is some serious touring in the works for the second half of the year.
As for the videos, Mikel did promise during TATE’s recent Reddit AMA that more bombastic videos are in the offing, so chances are that’s what he was referring to here – though the recent release of “California” as a single may very well spawn a music video for that track as well.
Last Friday, The Airborne Toxic Event made two television appearances. The headline event saw the band take the stage at the David Letterman Show for the fifth and final time, for a barn burning rendition of “Wrong.”
Earlier in the day, TATE joined Nick Lachey on VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live, where they laid down an energetic “One Time Thing” and spoke about their two new albums, their current North American tour and upcoming European dates (note: you have to be in the U.S. to view the videos). The most interesting tidbit to emerge from the interview is that the European tour will not be a repeat of the U.S. shows that begin with Dope Machines being played through in full; rather, the setlists will be a more traditional “hodge podge” of selections from all of the band’s albums.
In other TV news, Airborne will be doing a live taping with Revolt TV this Monday in Hollywood. Click here to request tickets to be in the studio audience.
(Still More) Dope Reviews
A few more latecomers weighed in this week with their reactions to Dope Machines and Songs of God and Whiskey.
Atwood Magazine: “What holds resoundingly true is this: There’s no turning back now. The release of Songs of God and Whiskey alongside Dope Machines serves as a symbolic and literal letting go of the past. In order to fully embrace their new sound, TATE had to say goodbye to the past – and what better way of doing so than getting in one last hurrah? Songs of God and Whiskey finds the band cleansing themselves of what must certainly be quite the extensive backlog… Never before have The Airborne Toxic Event sounded as freewheeling and creatively uninhibited as they do on Dope Machines. The album goes beyond the tried story Jollett has been relying on for too long, introducing new plots and fresh content that grab the listeners as strikingly as the band once did on their debut.”
Blurt Magazine: “Dope Machines and Songs Of God And Whiskey implement an exciting change in sound, while staying true to the emotional underbelly that rides through The Event. Songs Of God And Whiskey is perhaps the better of the two records, simply because the tone and theme of The Event fit best with an acoustic stripped down drawl. Dope Machines’ focus on electric sounds great, amazing even, but it becomes dried out with the same heartbroken theme (and this maybe simply because it starts to wade into a region that was conquered once and for all in the ‘80s). Despite the faults that can sometimes creep up in both records, it is a remarkable, fun, and brave fourth foray for The Event.”
Officially a Yuppie: “Four records in and California’s Airborne Toxic Event are still making solid records. Dope Machines hears the band depart from the orchestral rock sound they were known for and hears them venture into more electronic stadium-style hooks and with enough power that will get any crowd chanting along.”
Hit the Floor: “Dope Machines still sounds like an TATE record. The distinct vocal talents of Mikel Jollett and Anna Bulbrook make sure that even if the band chose to record a skiffle album, it would still sound like a TATE album, in the same way that anyone and Mark E Smith would produce a Fall album. The album could easily be a Jollett solo outing than an actual band project. Were the other members of the band sat drinking coffee waiting to be called in when needed by their master? The rich string laden sound from their previous work, has been replaced by drum machines and studio trickery.”
Meanwhile, the Boston Herald combined a review of the two albums with an interview with Mikel. Explaining the genesis of Songs of God and Whiskey, the bandleader said, “You know that crazy impulse of ‘Let’s go get chili cheeseburgers in Vegas right now?’ Well, this album was built from that kind of impulse. We went into the studio, plugged in some mics and recorded a bunch of songs that didn’t fit on ‘Dope Machines’ as fast as we could.”
And how did their label, Epic Records, respond to this unexpected development?
“They didn’t mind, which was very cool,” he said. “Modest Mouse and us are the only rock bands on the label so I think they give us some room to, well, be rock bands that do strange (expletive).”
Recaps from the Road
With the new albums giving way to the promotional tour in support of them, there have also been a number of show reviews over the past week. Unlike the album reviews, these have been universally enthusiastic.
Boston Globe: “Saturday’s show began with the band playing “Dope Machines” in full — a risk, given the material’s relative newness. But it paid off; the capacity crowd possessed a palpable giddiness at the prospect of communing with the band in a small room, and not the festival-size spaces where the Boston Calling alums have honed their live approach.”
Wicked Local Waltham: “One cool factor in the live show Sunday night was that fans could see that many of the synth effects we were hearing were coming from Steven Chen’s lead guitar. But with Jollett’s rhythm guitar driving the core of the tunes, it still came across as soulful rock–just soulful rock with a really enhanced, almost industrial strength rhythmic foundation. But kudos to the sound crew, for Jollett’s vocals were clear and understandable throughout, as were the backup vocals.”
My Attraversiamo: “The crowd was so lively, and in the end I totally dug the music – they had this amazing female violinist/singer/piano player who was absolutely fantastic and so, so fun to watch.”
Examiner: “Dope Machines (Epic Records) might just be TATE’s strongest, most substantive studio effort yet, and the Friday the 13th Cleveland gig was one of only nine listed on a special audiovisual mini-tour whereon Jollett and company are playing the whole darn thing, front-to-back—along with a smattering of hits. Judging from Airborne’s tight, visceral performance and the Trinity crowd’s immediate (and consistent) positive reaction to it, one might’ve guessed everyone in the church had been living with these songs for years—not weeks.”
AXS.com’s Amanda Keeler also touched on the Cleveland show in an article that focused on the release of Songs of God and Whiskey, and specifically why it was bundled with Dope Machines in the band’s store:
On Feb. 24 Airborne manger Pete Galli told me that Songs of God and Whiskey didn’t exist 1 month ago. “The band recorded it in 3 weeks. We mastered it yesterday, finishing at 3pm LA time and then it was for sale at 9pm LA time. Our label Epic (Sony) was very supportive, but they are unable, like any major, to turn it around on iTunes or other outlets that quickly. Instead, they were kind enough to let us sell it directly to fans on our store, as long as it was bundled with Dope Machines.
As this article was being written Thursday night, Pennsylvania TATE fans were enjoying the band’s appearance on WHYY-TV’s “On Tour,” footage for which was captured last fall in Philadelphia. We expect the full episode to be available for online viewing soon, but in the meantime, here are a couple of teasers. In the first, Mikel introduces the episode. The second features a full performance of “Sometime Around Midnight.” (WHYY-TV has also posted an extensive photo gallery on Facebook.)
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.