This week we close the books on the Whiskey Machine Tour, and brace ourselves for life without The Airborne Toxic Event… for a little while.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank you all so much for making my songs part of your life. It sometimes feels like I’m living in a dream and I don’t know where the dream ends and the world begins. But the bridge between us is this music and it makes me feel less alone. It’s a tremendous honor. Going dark for a bit now to hovel and rest and write. Please be well and go make some babies yo. – Mikel Jollett on Instagram
The final notes of the final show of The Airborne Toxic Event’s Whiskey Machine Tour hadn’t yet faded away before the fan hand wringing began.
If I had a dollar for every message I’ve received in the past week asking me if I think this is The End, I could quit my day job and do This Is Nowhere full time. Which, come to think of it, sounds pretty sweet, so maybe you can all toss me a loonie next time you write?
I kid. But it’s no exaggeration to say that questions about the band’s future are front and center in the minds of many fans as the musicians embark upon a break of unspecified duration.
The factors that have some worried are numerous. For whatever reason, Dope Machines and Songs of God and Whiskey – and, for that matter, Such Hot Blood – sadly fell short of the sales and radio impact of the earlier albums. The decrease in touring over the past few years is well documented (“decrease” being relative to the absolutely insane touring schedule the band kept up in the early years). The fact that each of the band members (particularly Anna Bulbrook) have other things on the go is no secret. And some followers have interpreted the social media posts of the past week as having an unsettling air of finality to them – though it’s worth noting that the same could have been said of posts from the end of the Such Hot Blood Tour, so let’s not fret about that too much.
Many fans had the opportunity to speak to band and crew as they’ve toured these last two months, and there’s a lot of “I heard this” and “I heard that” floating around. And yes, I too had some off the record conversations at shows I attended this fall.
The net result is this: I have no idea what the future holds, beyond what they’ve announced publicly. Mikel is going to take some time for some much needed R&R, and to do what he does best: write. Anna, who seemingly has an inhuman immunity to the need for recuperation, is already back in the studio with The Bulls, working on their debut full-length release. We’re less certain about what Daren, Adrian and Steven will be getting themselves up to, but they’ve all got their fingers in other pies too.
What will result from Mikel’s writing, only time will tell. More music, hopefully; his long lost book, possibly. We’ll just have to wait and see. But whatever it is, I know this much: it will be worth waiting for.
As for me, I don’t believe The End is nigh by any means. But I do sense that change (and change and change and change) is in the air, and change is good. So let’s all just hang tight and see where this adventure takes us next, shall we?
On a more personal note, a quiet period for the band inevitably means less content for This Is Nowhere. We’ll continue to report on anything that there is to report on, which I suspect will lead to lots of focus on The Bulls until Mikel emerges from his cave. Toxicity will be published on an as needed basis, and we’ll keep plugging away on the Toxic History series. As always, we’re more than happy to publish submissions from any Airborne fan, so fire away!
And finally, to Mikel: Thank you for pouring your heart out to us night after night after night after night. You will never know how you’ve changed us; how your words help carry us through the most difficult of times. Your music has formed the soundtrack to our morning jogs and our workday commutes, our hopes and our fears, our weddings and our divorces, our births and our losses. Your relentless schedule over the past nine years has left you little time to mourn your own losses, of which there have been way too many, and to process the countless changes in your own life. If ever a break has been well earned, it is this one. Take all the time you need… we’ll be here when you get back.
This ‘n’ That
Not much in the way of TATE coverage over the past couple of weeks, save from LA Music Blog’s sweet collection of photos from The Wiltern. However, in Airborne-adjacent news, our friend Colleen wrote eloquently in praise of nerdom, and TATE nerdom in particular, on her blog:
We all have something we completely “nerd out” about. Being a nerd is just loving something to the umpteenth degree.
The problem is, of course, there are always haters. There are always people who like to rain on someone else’s parade. And no matter how much we tell ourselves “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” sometimes it’s hard to shake it off and go on experiencing our joy.
No one should tell you to tone down your joy. You have every right to be as happy as you can be, whether you are broadcasting your happy relationship on Facebook, sharing a hundred baby pictures on Instagram, going to your twentieth Airborne show, or watching those darn turtles in Finding Nemo.
Since it appears there will be no more live TATE for awhile (save for a lone shortened set in Denver in December), here are a few videos to tide you over – all from The Wiltern. “Poor Isaac” and “Innocence” come courtesy of YouTuber nesslurpee; “Cocaine and Abel” and “Change and Change and Change and Change” were filmed by TATE fan.
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.