Posts Tagged ‘Fifth Day’

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event: manning up. Photo by Ryan Tuttle.

Mikel Jollett: Manning Up. Photo by Ryan Tuttle.

By Glen

Through five records from The Airborne Toxic Event, there are themes that have clearly captivated Mikel Jollett: threads of thought that stalk his work like spirits, weaving their way through the shadows of multiple albums.

Death is the most obvious one of course, its influence limited not just to the songs but extending to the band’s very name and identity. But there are others.

Love. Loss. Home. Angels. Ghosts. Rain.

Amongst these weighty subjects, there is one that sticks out like something of a sore thumb.

Mikel Jollett is kind of obsessed with being a man.

The admonition to “be a man” conjures primitive images of testosterone-dripping, chest-thumping, macho Neanderthals who know what they want and aren’t afraid to take it, even if it means stepping on others along the way.

But unlike certain Presidential candidates, Jollett doesn’t seem overly concerned with flashing his masculine credentials and measuring his… fingers. Rather, his work betrays that he’s still grasping for direction, wrestling with what exactly constitutes manhood in the context of fear, change, uncertainty and relationships.

“What does it mean to be a man?” asks Jollett from the stage one night in Boston. “That’s a really stupid idea, right? I don’t know, like, eating beef jerky? You know, you can think of all these cheesy, simplified things that you can attach to that idea, which is ridiculous. So, for me, I landed on honesty. There was a time when I felt really trapped by so much that I was trying to hide from the rest of the world, and ultimately I realized that I just had to burn the whole fucking thing down.”

The embracing of authenticity and vulnerability is a very 21st century approach to masculinity; one that deals more in questions than answers, as we’ll see as we trace Jollett’s lyrical journey through manhood.


In “Changing,” Jollett treads a fine line between deference on the one side and cocksurety on the other. “I am a gentleman,” he insists repeatedly, offering a litany of proof. He requests what he needs, rather than demanding it: “Didn’t I ask for a place I could stay?” He pays his own way: “Didn’t I pay for every laugh, every dime, every bit every time?” He prioritizes relationship and steps up when he is needed: “Didn’t I answer every time that you call? Pick you up when you fall?”

That said, there’s a firm limit to his flexibility, and he butts up against it when he finds that being a gentleman is getting him nowhere. A deep mistrust is eating at the relationship – at least on her side – and he’s not going to take it lying down. “You say that I lie,” he says with disbelief. “You say I never tried.” Are you serious?

As her deep-seated suspicion seeds mind games and naked attempts at control, the gentleman takes a backseat to a more primal form of masculinity: one that’s had enough of listening, resists compromise and takes a stand. “I won’t hear one more word about changing. Guess what, I am the same man.”

The stubborn man, unwilling to bend and refusing to be owned, is a stark contrast to the gentleman who minded his manners and followed the rules. So what type of man does he want to be?

The Storm

In “The Storm,” an almost 40-year-old Jollett is starting to figure it out. He’s come to a sobering awareness: only just now, after “25 years of running in sand,” has he finally “learned how to stand like a man.”

As it turns out, standing like a man isn’t at all what he expected; perhaps that’s why the lesson was so long in the learning.

“I was going through a lot of heavy stuff at this point in my life when I wrote this song,” Jollett explains. “The idea of the song is somebody witnessing your struggles. You go through these private struggles in your life, and in some cases you feel like you’ve been just barely getting through for a very long time. And the idea is that somebody comes in and just sees it, and is like, ‘Oh my God!’ And that moment of sympathy and empathy, and that sense that somebody can witness who you are and want to help you in your life when you’re just kind of laid bare was really powerful for me at the time. There’s a sense of home that’s kind of the heart of love; that sense of homeness that you can just be yourself with someone, they can see your struggles, and they can see what’s good and bad about you and love you for it. And the minute you recognize that is actually when you know that you have love in your life.”

It’s an extraordinarily counter-cultural take on manliness. We think it’s all about standing on our own two feet and handling shit on our own. But Jollett found manhood in a moment of extreme weakness, even dependence, when he realized there was someone else in the room and it was okay to lean on them. Being a man is not a solo sport.

The Fifth Day

By “The Fifth Day,” the man is broken. The room is empty again.

If Jollett found relationship to be the key to manhood, what does it mean to be a man now that the girl who continually reminded him, “Boy, you’re not so tough,” is gone?

Well, perhaps she’s not completely gone after all. Memories linger: their song in the air, her scent on the sheets. And he knows, even in her absence, “It’s these things that make you a man.”

He may be facing the future alone, but he’s not the same man he was – and he’s not going back. Even if he wanted to, he can’t remember where he started.

But I won’t go back to what I was
I know now that you are lost
It’s your choices that make you a man
Your frozen mind begins to thaw
You think my God my God my God
Where was it I began?

There’s only one way out, and that’s forward, with the lessons of the past in his pocket. That is his choice.

The Way Home

The Such Hot Blood bonus track “The Way Home” introduces us to a man at the end of his rope. Perhaps it’s the same man from “The Fifth Day,” some indeterminate time later; it’s tough to say. The events that have crushed him are not spelled out, but whatever they were, they have left him alone and uncertain.

But also full of resolve.

Rather than yielding to despair and wallowing “beneath this darkened shroud,” the narrator gets his head about him. Change is no longer the enemy. He tears down his prison of shame, brick by ignominious brick. He catches a glimpse of hope – “I can hear the birds, see the light outside” – and it emboldens him to “stand up like a man and swallow my pride.” The hands of time may have beaten him down, but they haven’t defeated him.

The doubts have not been vanquished; not all the question marks have been replaced by periods. He is neither brave nor sure – but Fear will not be permitted the final word.

He doesn’t have the slightest clue where he’s going, just that it’s far away from here – and that’s enough for now. The man closes the door behind him and sets off for the horizon, walking this road on the bricks he’s laid.

Time to be a Man

If the story ended there, you might think he’d finally figured it out. But there’s another chapter, and it brings Jollett full circle.

“Time to be a Man” is a funny song. It seems on the surface to be a bit of an odd duck in the Jollett catalog, with a triumphalist tone that contrasts sharply with his customary cynicism. “Be a man! The whole world is at your door!” What was that we said about chest thumping?

Except it’s not that at all. The man who had boldly set out for a new life somehow finds himself right back where he began: tossing his way through sleepless nights. And still alone. The lessons of “The Storm” have long since been forgotten: he thought he could do it on his own, “like you don’t need no one else,” but he was wrong. “The way home is so steep” – much steeper than he expected.

Yet again, he tries to muster up the strength to be a man. However, his admonition to himself is shot through with self-doubt. “Tell me how does that go? What the hell are you waiting for?”

“The whole world is at your door,” he reminds himself. But walking through that door is not as easy as it seems.

“Time to be a Man” isn’t the optimistic paean to grabbing life by the balls that it might at first glance appear to be. It’s the same secrets and lies and doubts and failures that Jollett has always battled, just wrapped up in a glossier package.

In other words, he hasn’t figured it out after all. Not by a long shot.

But he’s not pretending he has… and that’s a start.

GlenGlen 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.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event. Photo by Ryan Macchione.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event. Photo by Ryan Macchione.

As we were in the throes of writing our upcoming Toxic History chapter on The Airborne Toxic Event’s third album Such Hot Blood (watch for that next week), we were contacted by our friend Steven Fein. In 2013, just prior to the release of the album, Steve had a chance to sit down with Mikel Jollett to discuss the making of the record. Last year we published a portion of that conversation, in which the pair discussed Bruce Springsteen and his influence on Jollett’s writing. Now, in a This Is Nowhere exclusive, Steve has graciously given us the opportunity to publish more of the interview. 

Steve Fein: First of all, “Timeless” is just a fantastic song. But I read I think in an interview with Billboard where you said something like, “Don’t write like you’re an indie rock artist or an art rock band, don’t write like you’re trying to write an Airborne song that’s gonna be huge, just write what’s in your heart.” And when I read that I was like what the hell is he talking about, cause to me the song sounds quintessential you.

Mikel: I feel like it’s a little more hopeful than I would normally try to write. I think some of the earlier stuff like “Wishing Well” or something there’s a lot of like desperation. I mean I guess that’s how I was feeling. But there’s a lot of desperation, there’s a lot of actual darkness. A lot of references to like claustrophobia and drug use and things like that which is very different than “I hope I don’t die, and I hope that in the meantime I can spend my time with a true love,” or something.

S: I mean it sounded like part of almost a triple set with “All at Once” and “Graveyard,” because they also have that defiance in the face of death and connection with people being what—

M: Yeah, “All I Ever Wanted.” That’s true it’s definitely a motif I guess, isn’t it. I hadn’t thought about that. Well I had written the lyrics to that song about ten different times and I couldn’t find it. The song just, you know, a song presents itself to you. And sometimes it does it on the first try and you’re psyched. It’s like, “Yeah.” But that’s rare. Only a couple songs have ever done that. And then sometimes you just chase it. And “Wishing Well” I chased. “Midnight” I actually wrote all at once, in like a day or two. “All I Ever Wanted” I chased. “All at Once” I chased. Most songs I chase.

S: You had that great line about 25 years chasing a song.

M: Oh yeah, in “The Storm?” Yeah. It’s definitely been a motif. I think that the difference with this song is that it’s not just an acknowledgement of it, there’s a desire to just want to do something about it. And I don’t know why that’s true now, but that wasn’t what was in my… when I sat down to write, I was in Cincinnati and I was running across some bridge, cause I like to go running on tour just to get the fuck away from everything. And I was just like singing the song, cause I’ll just sing all day long in my head trying to get it down. And I was singing all these different lines, and I was like “She disappeared alone in the dark…” and I was like “Ah!” and I stopped, and I borrowed like a pen from someone and a piece of paper and I wrote down the opening line. And I knew once I wrote that line that the rest of the song would present itself. It was like, you gotta start with one true thing. Phillip Roth talks about this, he’ll write when he starts a novel he’ll write a hundred pages in like three months until something feels alive. And he’s just searching for something that’s alive. And then he’ll write one paragraph and that one paragraph is alive. And he goes “There’s my book.” In this one paragraph. And then you take that, and it may not be the first paragraph of the book, but that’s when the book presents itself, that’s when the story presents itself. And with that line, that’s when the whole song, I got it. And then it was just a matter of the craft of creating a song about that idea, which is a whole other thing. Like, songwriting craft is whole other discussion. But just having craft isn’t enough, cause you have to have your imagination captured by an idea large enough to write about.

S: In his VH1 Storytellers session, Bruce Springsteen told telling the story about “Does This Bus Stop on 82nd Street?” from his first album, and he said basically the exact same thing about it’s one line, and you know you have the song. And in that song it was, “Man the dopes that there’s still hope.” And the whole song was crafted around that line. So it’s interesting that you say that.

M: It would be interesting to kinda think about each song and think what was the one line when you knew. Like, “Bride and Groom” it was actually the opening line: “The city is haunted by the ghosts of failure.” That one made sense to me.

S: What I love about that song is the last part….. the writing of that song is just fantastic.

M: Thank you very much. That’s probably my favorite song I’ve ever written.

S: It’s amazing and you know when I first heard it, actually the back half of the album, the songs didn’t sound quite as loud and boisterous. It’s a different type.

M: Right, it’s a different type. I did that on purpose. It’s almost like there’s a hot side and a cool side like they used to have. The second half is like the hand clap and finger snap, orchestral, it’s a little quirkier. The song writing structure, the first half except for “Safe,” is pretty strict in its structure and the second half is just wide open.

S: Yeah, it’s just fantastic. And you know, playing around with the vocals with Anna. And to me, like “Elizabeth” when I first heard it, it’s like “Oh that’s sweet and clever,” but then I listened to it a couple times and I’m like “Oh my god!” like that last verse—

M: It’s a killer right?

S: That last verse is, oh my god.

M: And then it’s just over! And…

S: And that last line…

M: And that last line, is the gnarliest line on the entire record.

S: But it just sums up everything doesn’t it!

M: And then it just ends! It doesn’t even resolve, you know, cause it ends on the 5. It just hangs there. And I was like oh my god, that’s gotta be the last line.

S: Yeah, that last line just does it. And it seems like in a way it’s a response to the previous song “The Fifth Day.” You know, here’s what you learned that you have to say…maybe that the person couldn’t say.

M: I was also trying to break the tension. “The Fifth Day” is such a big, imagined song and I was hoping people would go on that journey with me. I mean we’ll see if they do or not, I’m not sure. Because it requires a certain commitment to the journey and what that song’s about which is sort of like the re-imagining of kind of sadness. Like the majesty of sadness, this whole second half. And there are the two voices at the start, and they’re both almost like two bubbles saying kind of the same thing but from different perspectives, and then the end is the kind of imagined dream-life that they share. And that song makes a lot of sense at like three in the morning. When I wrote that song actually there was a lot of time spent just blaring it at three in the morning. Like the whole neighborhood’s asleep and I’m pacing around my house with that song, I’m writing parts. I wrote that song over the course of a week. And that whole latter half just arranging it and just blaring it in the middle of the night. It makes sense, but I wasn’t sure if it would make sense in the day like if people hear it if they’d be like “What the fuck is this?”

S: At least for me it took two or three listens but it was so much more rewarding going through that journey. Is the wordless outro because it just sounded good to you or was it because it’s sort of a comment on the fact that you were saying earlier in the song “words don’t matter” or “you can’t find the words” or something along those lines?

M: Oh that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of that. But that—”Yes”, let’s just go with “Yes.” I love that. No, but, maybe that’s how you know it’s honest. I didn’t have to mean it. I didn’t have to intend it. It just happened that way. The wordless outro was…something about this music spoke to me and it felt like you get these two characters and they’re so sad. And this song, it’s not bleak, like “Innocence” or something is, it’s just sad. They’re just sad. And then by the end there’s almost this childlike fascination of, you know, the majesty of their own sadness. You know what I mean? And I was really trying to go for that, bring that idea to life. Because it was definitely like a dreamscape.

S: It sounds to me also, though, that the person in the song is starting to gain some self-awareness by the end that he was lacking before, before that loss.

M: Yeah that’s interesting. This whole record is that I think.

S: Yeah! And that brings that last line from “Elizabeth” back. You know, you’re sort of guessing what love is, whether love is real.

M: Yeah, because you don’t know. You don’t really know what anything is. And you know the irony of writing all these songs about love and you’re not really sure you really know at all. I guess I was trying to break the tension a little bit too. That song’s a hair tongue-in-cheek. You know that line about being uptight for a Mexican girl. I love that line. And so I didn’t want it to be too serious. “The Fifth Day” it’s like this big song and by the end you’re just like weeping. I wanted there to be a little bit of light, light-heartedness. Even if that lightheartedness is still kind of gnarly.

S: Well yeah when it switches, these are all love songs and sometimes love makes you feel shitty. I just love that you know it turns like that in that last verse.

M: Thanks.

S: Anyway going back to the mortality kind of thing from “All at Once” and “Graveyard” and “Timeless,” I know that part of the origin story of the band and your week from hell where you sort of pumped some gas and were exposed to the toxic cloud. So that obviously was a seminal turning point, but did you think about that kind of stuff much before that at all?

M: Yeah for sure. I wrote a novel about it. I wrote two novels about it.

S: So do you feel when you do that that you’re gaining insight or that it’s cathartic or just you have to do it so you do it even if it doesn’t necessarily help you work things through…

M: Yeah I think writing, actually writing is more like that where it’s like you want to know what you think about something so you write about it, cause you have to organize your own thoughts. This is a little bit more like, yeah you’re estranged to yourself, and I guess there’s a reckoning there. Like are you asking what’s the impetus to write? And whether or not that’s like catharsis?

S: Well, yeah. That’s more the consequence of writing rather than just the impetus. I understand the impetus as in you just feel like you need to get this out and explore it. But does it help other than to get it out, in terms of gaining awareness or feeling like somehow you’re cheating death or anything along those lines?

M: Well a little bit of cheating death ’cause you’re creating something you hope someone will hear in 100 years and they’ll be like “Oh, I thought that. Alright.” And it’s like you’re winking at him, or waving to him from the grave like, “Hey guy, I thought this.” And the guy’s like “Hey, that guy’s dead but he thought this. Cool.” It’s sort of like, there’s a desire to communicate, because you’re really, really, really alone. And you don’t want to be so alone with your weird thoughts and your fucking weird, strange feelings that you have that you find weird. It’s not like I don’t find them weird too. I do.

And so then you write a song, and something about the idea of communicating, it’s a way of, without having to write a whole book, or without, or maybe even more intensely so, really getting your point across. And the desire to communicate that, is a desire to be less alone with it. And for someone else to hear it and hopefully relate to it and if they do, then it’s just—you’re just part of this big tragic comedy of life. You’re part of it and they’re part of it, and then it’s like okay, because you relate it, and then you’re like “Yeah!” and then something that felt so strange, and so isolating, and so weird suddenly becomes like “eh.” And that’s one of the great things about life is no matter what your trials are, no matter what you’re going through that seems so horrific in your own mind at 2 AM, you talk to someone about it, you communicate it out in the world. The idea of “The Secret,” like once the secret’s out, once it’s done, there’s a real freedom because then everyone kind of just goes “fuck it.”

And that’s one of the great things about mankind. It’s like propensity for violence, for hatred of others, hatred of ourselves, whatever. But then there’s such incredible desire for grace and for kindness and for acceptance or just to kind of commune. And I guess something about music is that, and that’s why I love playing shows, cause that sense of communing with others is kind of what you’re at at the moment of writing. And everything else in the middle is kind of horse shit, right? The production and the record and the marketing, all that bullshit. Like there’s a moment where you have the impetus to write, and then you write, cause you don’t want to be alone. And then there’s a moment where somebody hears it, and whatever goes on in their own heads, which is different from what’s in your head, and you have to respect that, happens. And there’s this yawning, fucking gulf between those two things, right? Of arrangements and production and producers and fucking Twitter and all this press and all the record labels and marketing and bookface and all this shit. And then on the other side of it somebody hearing it and something becomes sort of a light in their own mind, and those two moments are the important ones.

And the goal is to make all this stuff go away as much as possible so that there’s just this moment. And the place where that happens most purely and spontaneously is at a show, and that’s why I love playing shows. You look out in the crowd and everyone’s singing your song that you wrote because you didn’t want to be alone and you are literally not alone because they’re singing it too, and you know they had a moment with it, it may be different from your moment but that’s fine, you know you had a moment and you’re all there together. Sometimes I feel like you can see it from space, like we emanated some kind of light that in this room would be the brightest room in the whole world. Cause everybody’s emanating this light of sort of wanting to commune with one another and they’re caught up in the music, and I’m caught up in it too. And you can’t fake something like that. You can’t. Honesty just sounds different. I don’t know why that’s true, but it’s true. Honesty just sounds different so you can’t fake it. People know if you’re full of shit, people are way smarter than you think. Cause people want that moment of communion.

S: Yeah, maybe that’s part of why they call it concert, you know. There’s this union there.

M: I like that.

Steven Fein is a Williams College Professor of Psychology by day, published Springsteen writer by night.

The fans put The Airborne Toxic Event through their paces by selecting a challenging setlist at the private Shazam show in Philly. Photo by Sarah.

The fans put The Airborne Toxic Event through their paces by selecting a challenging setlist at the private Shazam show in Philly. Photo by Sarah.

By Sarah

I’ve never been much of a writer. Not a good one anyway. I greatly admire those who can string their words together beautifully and make anything sound like poetry, but I’m simply not quite there. This certainly isn’t for lack of trying, as there’s really no skill I work harder to sharpen than this one. That being said, the events of this day were significant enough for me to really want to try to put into words, so I imposed upon myself the challenge of reflecting on and writing about an experience that was truly unlike any other for me.

In order to give a more complete picture of how the day went for me, I feel I should go back a bit. For weeks preceding The Airborne Toxic Event’s show in Glenside, PA, enthusiasm and nervous excitement had been running high for me. A worrier by nature, I had seemingly endless concerns: What if traffic is a nightmare because of the papal visit? What if I get my ticket and find that my seat is crap? What if I don’t make it into the top 20 Shazammers and all of my time was spent for nothing? I lost track of how many times I expressed these worries and many more to The World’s Most Patient Boyfriend™ since buying my ticket back in June.

Overall, however, I was elated to be able to see them again and to even be allowed the chance to potentially win my way into a private show. I was still bitter about the two nearby free shows that I would’ve been unable to get into over the summer and the New York show that I couldn’t feasibly make this time around, so I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip through my fingers; I was going to try. And try I did! For about six weeks I did what any sane and reasonable person would do, and I captured and sent at least 12,000 “One Time Thing” Shazam screenshots.

After arriving at the Keswick Village, I waited in line for a little over three hours, sitting under a sign that read “LINE STARTS HERE FOR SHAZAM PRE-SHOW PARTY”—a sign I later took as a token of having been first in line. The line slowly but surely began to grow as fervent and enthusiastic super-fans arrived, ready to enjoy the fruit of their labor. We shared our setlist contributions (mine was “Duet,” which didn’t make the cut) and joked about having the band play “One Time Thing,” which had literally been infiltrating my dreams during the last few days leading up to the concert. (For the record, they did play it during the main show and I was thrilled; somehow it still hasn’t gotten old for me).

My early arrival paid off, and after the doors opened I eagerly marched down to a seat in the front row and direct center, just feet away from where my favorite band would soon play. I later joked that I’d have to continue to settle for spitting distance until lap seats became an option.

It wasn’t long before they took the stage and was greeted by our tiny but excited crowd, which Mikel remarked was probably the smallest one they’ve ever had. He also joked about the setlist choices and the challenge of relearning older, lesser-played songs like “Tokyo Radio” and “A Letter to Georgia.” “You guys couldn’t have picked ‘Midnight’ or something?”

Spirits were high as song after song was played beautifully and movingly, and chill after chill rippled through my skin. I was in deep denial when Mikel mentioned that they were already about halfway through their set. All throughout the show I was euphoric, my goofy fangirl smile growing like wild when the band played “Strangers,” and only leaving my face when I was brought close to tears by “A Letter to Georgia,” “The Thing About Dreams,” and “The Fifth Day.” Those three songs were played back to back, and the emotional punch that they provided made that section my favorite one of the private show. The vocals in all three were enough to nearly take my breath away; “A Letter to Georgia” was a bona fide spiritual experience, Mikel’s falsetto in “The Thing About Dreams” was the best I’ve ever heard it sound, and hearing Anna’s voice as clearly as I could during “The Fifth Day” was life changing and absolutely divine.

It turns out that one of my concerns was valid—my ticket from the band’s website presale put me way further back than I would’ve liked for the main show, and I was bummed about it and ready to complain. My heart audibly broke with every step that I took to move from my center seat in the front row to “middle left” section, which sent me back several rows and pretty far off to the side. Regardless, I continued to enjoy my evening as I heard “A Letter to Georgia” for the second time and “Cocaine and Abel,” which I adore, for the very first, as well as old live favorites like “Changing” and “Gasoline.”

It wasn’t long before I discovered that my luck for the day hadn’t even come close to running out yet. “Security’s making everyone move, but I really don’t care if you’re in the aisle,” Mikel announced a few songs in. I was off before you could say “Change and Change and Change and Change.” I was eventually able to make my way down to join a few of the people I had met and hung out with in line earlier in the day as well as during the time between the private show and the performance from the opening band, Dreamers. Together we jumped and danced, really enjoying the full rock show aspect of the TATE experience.

The set closed with “Midnight,” complete with the full, powerful “and you WAAAAALLLKKKK” treatment rather than being replaced by falsetto this time. Very few people moved after the song finished, as we knew we’d be graced with an encore shortly.

“Elizabeth” is one of several TATE songs that have held a special place in my heart from the very first listen, so it was wonderful to hear its opening notes soon after the band returned to the stage. As the final chords of the encore’s third song, “All At Once,” were struck, it was clear that the show had come to a beautiful, albeit unwanted end.

The friendliness and generosity of TATE fans never ceases to amaze me, and while I’m always fine with going to concerts alone, it’s safe to say that this one was made exponentially better by the good company around me. I timidly but excitedly introduced myself to several other fans whose names I had seen online for months, and also reconnected with ones that I had met at previous shows. Drinks were offered, hugs were shared, and I was even handed a setlist by Jamie, who I brought as one of my three wonderful guests to the party. It was with TATE fans that I counted down the minutes until we’d be allowed in the building for the private show, and with TATE fans that I screamed the lyrics to “All I Ever Wanted,” “Happiness Is Overrated,” and others towards the end of the main show. The amazing day was made even better due to the kind, welcoming, fun nature of people to whom I was almost a stranger just hours before.

At the end of the night I had the pleasure of briefly talking to the band, which was a really fun and lovely experience that topped off an already incredible day. For several days prior to this show I was trying to make the decision about what I should bring to have them sign for me. A CD? Which one? Should I get a poster? The thought very briefly crossed my mind to bring something that I had made, as I recently taught myself how to embroider and have been putting TATE lyrics and symbols on everything. The specific item I thought of bringing was a denim jacket that I had bought for $4 at a thrift store and decorated with the band’s bird and arrow. However, I guess at this point I should note that the first time I met The Airborne Toxic Event I was so nervous I couldn’t speak, and that’s not an exaggeration. So that idea was short-lived; I couldn’t imagine bringing one of my silly little projects to them to look at and sign when I could barely say hello to them just six months before.

The weather began to cool down as one by one, the band members appeared to say their hellos, and I found myself feeling that same nervousness that I felt the first time. Little did I know that by the end of that night, Mikel would be telling me that my selfie game is strong and I’d be joking with Anna about how I think she’s way cooler than the Pope. They were all even friendlier and funnier than I had remembered, and that made it easy for me to quickly gather my courage and speak with the quick wit that I like to make people think I always have. Since the show I’ve found myself smiling and giggling throughout my days when I think about my exchanges and goofy selfies with all of them.

I expect that the entirety of that day is one that will forever remain unique and special for me. I feel unbelievably fortunate to have been able to experience everything the way I did, complete with a traffic-less drive home with my windows down and my favorite band’s discography on shuffle. All of the different components of the day seemed to work in perfect harmony, making for an unforgettable time. It’s a day that I’m sure I’ll recount to anybody willing to listen for a long time to come.

Mikel Jollett, Steven Chen and The Airborne Toxic Event thrilled an intimate audience of 80 at the Keswick Theater before hitting the same stage again for a full house a few hours later. Photo by Ryan Macchione.

Mikel Jollett, Steven Chen and The Airborne Toxic Event thrilled an intimate audience of 80 at the Keswick Theater before hitting the same stage again for a full house a few hours later. Photo by Ryan Macchione.

On Saturday, The Airborne Toxic Event hosted an invitation-only pre-show gig for fans who won the band’s Philadelphia Shazam contest. Grand prize winner Bill Barrish was given the chance to choose the setlist, an opportunity he generously shared with the other fans who won their way into the party. Below are some post-show reflections from Bill and others who partook in the fun.


I think I speak for everyone who was involved in the private Philly Shazam concert when I say, WOW! This was truly a unique, amazing experience for the fans. An opportunity like this is so far beyond what any fan of a band could expect. I am not going to attempt to write a full review of the show, partly because that is something I’ve never done before, and also because those who are more experienced and eloquent than I will be posting a review shortly.

What I would like to do is pass along some special moments and observations from the night and the entire experience, both for myself as well as some of the other winners. We all spent a great deal of time and effort with the Shazam contest, and it definitely paid off in the end. Many of the other winners helped me pick the setlist, and it was definitely different than a normal TATE show. We knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we also knew that a full TATE concert, with many of the often played favorites, was coming later that night. So we certainly challenged the band with some of our choices, and Mikel made sure to point out that fact early in the show, saying, “I’m not even going to pretend we didn’t have to practice these songs.”

The wishlist of songs was put together rather quickly. Mikel wanted some rehearsal time (probably anticipating a few zingers), so we needed to submit our choices within a few hours of learning the details of the private show. The band’s manager, a very personable and obliging man named Pete, told me that when he first suggested to Mikel the notion that the top Shazamer would pick the set list for the private show, Mikel’s response was, “Really? Maybe they would prefer a signed poster or something.”

Saturday evening at the Keswick Theater – there was very little time from when they opened the doors for the private show and when the band came onstage. All of the winners and our guests were seated in the first four rows of the theater. So, 80 people in all – with the band, the stage, and full equipment ready to perform.

The start was very odd and different than any other TATE show I’ve been to before. The first words out of Mikel’s mouth before even starting the first song were, “Well this is pretty fucking weird.” Indeed it was pretty weird at the beginning. Everyone was seated politely, probably not wanting to block the view of those behind them. I was seated in the fourth row (back) with my wife, sister and brother-in-law (all new TATE fans). The band started to play “The Secret” – one of my add-on choices. I didn’t want to be the one weird guy dancing. About a minute into the song, my wife suggested we go ahead and stand up anyway. And almost in sync, row three, then row two, and then row one stood up, and normalcy was restored to a TATE concert. At one point Mikel said this is “the smallest big rock and roll set we’ve ever played.”

So, the wishlist we submitted had my top choice, nine choices from other winners, and five other songs that I added in as the deadline rapidly approached. I didn’t want the band to think we only wanted to hear 9 or 10 songs! They ended up playing 12 of the 15 songs, including the “Missy” medley that I requested – which was of course 3 songs in one.

Mikel was more talkative than usual, probably because of the intimacy of the setting, and the fact that we all won a contest to be at the private show. At one point in the show, Mikel compared me to Dr. Evil, suggesting that I was standing in the back, stroking a cat, and saying – “One miiiillion songs you don’t know!” A few songs (“Tokyo Radio,” “Strangers”) ended with Mikel letting out a sigh of relief, or mockingly brushing dust from his shoulders, thankful they made it through the song successfully. He lamented, “Thanks Bill. Couldn’t have done like… fucking ‘Midnight’ or ‘All I Ever Wanted?’”

I felt obliged to let him know that we all had a role in picking the set list. This was in part to give other people credit, but also to share the blame for forcing the band brush up on songs they rarely play! Mikel said that he thought that was an “awfully democratic” thing to do. He then said that he was proud to be in a band that has fans that would share. Other than the songs themselves, that was probably my highlight of the show.

So, since this is a concert review, I guess I should mention some of the songs. Firstly, I gained a new appreciation for some of the songs submitted by the other winners. Great choices! Asking devoted TATE fans to try to choose their one top song – that is a tall order. So obviously the songs submitted have a great deal of meaning, and I was grateful that the band was able to accommodate so many of the requests.

Of the songs that I personally submitted, my highlights came at the end of the show – “The Fifth Day,” “Timeless,” and the “Missy” medley. I’ve loved “Fifth Day” ever since I first heard it on Such Hot Blood. I have never seen it performed live before. I’ll have to say I was totally blown away. We really need to hear this more at future shows! Next up, after Mikel asked the tour manager how they were doing on time, ironically they went right into a great performance of “Timeless.”

At the end of “Timeless,” Mikel asked, “Y’all havin’ fun?” We, of cours,e responded enthusiastically. He joked, “That’d be funny if everyone was like – nah, it’s alright, ok I guess.” He then thanked us, the fans, for “supporting the band in so many different ways, and we love you for it.” And then he said, “Ok, this is the whole thing, the whole thing Bill.” So I knew what was coming…

“Missy” was a great end to the show. Some of the songs that we picked were more on the mellow side – in fact, at one point Mikel commented to the audience, “You’re all such nice people listening to such sad music.” So a full, high energy rendition of Missy/Folsom Prison Blues/Born in the USA/Missy was a perfect way to wrap things up.

I’m not sure how the band and tour manager pulled it off. A private show, followed by a full concert in Philly after being in New York City and Boston the two previous nights. And throw in some rehearsal time for the challenging song list we gave them. Hopefully this wasn’t too big of a burden for everyone in the band. From Mikel’s comments during the show, I think they all accepted the challenge graciously, and delivered flawlessly.

So in the end I did not get the signed poster that Mikel originally suggested. What I and all of the other fans got was so much more. A private show performed by an extraordinary band with a very unique set list. Many of us had a chance to meet members of the band, and get autographs and photos. The band made sure to give me a signed copy of the setlist. I was fortunate to be in the front row for the full concert that followed later that evening, and Mikel came over at the end to hand me a setlist for that show as well, and shake my hand one more time. I can’t thank Mikel, Anna, Steven, Daren, Adrian and everyone else involved enough for all their efforts making this happen for us. I wish every TATE fan could have this type of experience at least once.


I am so glad people enjoyed “A Letter to Georgia!” It’s always been my favorite song, but is often overlooked. In fact, in 16 shows I had never heard it played live. To see it TWO TIMES in one night was more than I could have ever dreamed.

In fact, that song making the request list is what inspired me to Periscope the show. The only other time I’d seen the song played live was on the San Francisco Fillmore broadcast last year, and it moved me to tears. I wanted to share that with some of the fans who couldn’t be there, but were with all of us in spirit.

I originally planned to just broadcast snippets of the show, maybe one or two songs. After so many people joined in, and were so enthusiastic in commenting, we just couldn’t leave them hanging. But I wanted to dance! So my 12-year-old Sam took over the camera and kept checking in with how positive everyone was in commenting.

But that’s what I’ve come to learn about TATE fans: we’re a friendly group. In fact, my favorite part of the night was getting to know some really cool people and hear stories about shows they’ve been to or how far they traveled to get there. Everyone was incredibly nice to my family; encouraging Ben to get his hat signed by the entire band and helping him walk away with 5 guitar picks. I’ve never managed to get hold of one!

And of course the band couldn’t have been nicer. Daren is always so much fun, and Steven even took time to chat with our exchange student about China. Mikel, Anna and Adrian you can tell are just cool people all around – and incredibly gracious. I know they must have all been tired, but you’d never know it.

I hope you all know the joy of introducing TATE to someone and having them appreciate the band as much as you. This weekend I got to share this happiness with my family; I don’t know how we can ever top this!

Sarah M.:

Of course, hearing the more rarely-played songs was amazing, but what really moved me was the actual, raw emotion I could see on Mikel’s face as he sang. I’ve been front row at their shows before, but I’ve never seen so much of this as I did on Saturday. I could see him close his eyes as words poured out of him that clearly have lots of heavy meaning, just as they do to all of us hearing them. Perhaps this was also due to how emotionally moved I was by the performance as well, but there was definitely something in his demeanor that I hadn’t seen before. I even caught an eyeroll as he sang the words “desperately wondering” in “Something New!” At the end of the night I briefly spoke to Mikel about the private show, which he admitted he had initially been dreading because of the extra effort and pressure of having to play less-played songs in front of such die-hard fans. He said he ended up having a ton of fun though, and I know I sure as hell did. It was an incredible, beautiful experience and I thank Bill so much for being so generous with his prize. I hope [he] had as much fun as I did!

Sarah K.:

The one thing I can take away from [this experience] that made every Shazam worth it, was the chance to be at a show that felt like we were in someone’s living room and they were just jamming away for fun. I finally got the chance to speak to a few of the band members and they were just as down to earth, chill and most appreciative as one would expect. They exude a family vibe amongst each other on stage and it pours over into their interactions with fans. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.


My wife Veronica and I planned a trip to celebrate our 15 year wedding anniversary to fly in from California for the shows starting in Buffalo. When they announced the contest, I decided to go for it. I’ve been dying to hear “Tokyo” for years. The entire time I was Shazaming “One Time Thing,” I was dreaming of “Tokyo Radio.” The private show was the icing on the cake to a very memorable week!


Daren Taylor of The Airborne Toxic Event: Ready to bring the power to The Fillmore. Photo by TATE fan Elva.

Daren Taylor of The Airborne Toxic Event: Ready to bring the power to The Fillmore. Photo by TATE fan Elva.

By Glen

Ed. Note: Over the next five Tuesdays, we’ll be gearing up for The Airborne Toxic Event’s upcoming residency at San Francisco’s Fillmore (Sept. 18-20) with a series of posts to whet our collective appetite. Today’s is the first installment.

I’ve seen a lot of Airborne Toxic Event gigs. Well, I suppose “a lot” depends on the context. Compared to some fans who have seen them 40, 50 times or more, I’m just a rookie. But by normal person standards, I’ve attended plenty of shows.

Despite that, there are a surprising number of TATE songs that I’ve never seen performed live. And that’s a big part of what makes the impending San Francisco residency a must-attend event: with the band performing a different one of their three studio albums in full each night, it’s a golden and perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any fan to cross a bunch of songs off their live TATE bucket list.

Below are ten songs that are guaranteed to be played, that I can’t wait to see. If you’re going to be there, what’s on your list?

10. It Doesn’t Mean a Thing

The first of six songs on this list that I have yet to experience in the flesh, “It Doesn’t Mean a Thing” promises to be a rollicking good time with its Gasoline-esque rhythm and relentless energy.

9. Strange Girl

One unknown heading into the residency is whether the band will feel compelled to stick close to the album arrangements, or whether they’ll pull out some alternate versions. For example, will “The Kids Are Ready to Die” be played in the punk-style that we’ve come to expect in concert, or will we witness a live rendition of the powerfully stark album version? In a similar vein, the rarely-played “Strange Girl” has at times been presented as a slowed down, bare bones vocal tour de force by Mikel Jollett. Is this what they have in store for us? Either way, it will be the first time for me.

8. Dope Machines/California

After witnessing these new songs at Boonstock, I’m champing at the bit to see them again. It’s always interesting to see new material evolve as the band gets comfortable with it in a live setting. Some have noted that Mikel’s falsetto in “Dope Machines” wasn’t entirely successful in its first couple of performances. Will he perhaps take it down an octave or three going forward?

7. What’s in Name?

Though “What’s in a Name” has never been played since its release on Such Hot Blood, I was lucky enough to see it at the pre-release Red Rocks show – another occasion in which a falsetto chorus didn’t quite do it for me. Subsequently, the high notes were shelved in favor of a full-throated attack that worked a lot better, and I’ve been waiting ever since to experience it again.

6. This is London

Another seldom-played Such Hot Blood track, “This is London” boasts some of the very best lyrics in the TATE catalog, in my opinion. I’m looking forward to hearing them sung in person.

5. All for a Woman

Of the three All At Once songs that I’ve yet to see, “All for a Woman” has been at the top of my list. It will be even more interesting to see how the band arranges it in light of Noah Harmon’s recent replacement by Adrian Rodriguez. Traditionally, Noah and Steven Chen have swapped instruments for this song. Will it be the same this time out?

4. Elizabeth

One of my favorites from Such Hot Blood, and the final song I haven’t witnessed from that album. “Elizabeth” is beautiful in its simplicity.

3. Innocence

“Innocence” is my all-time favorite song, bar none, and with it having become a rarity after years as a setlist standard, it would normally be atop my list. It slips down a couple spots only because I have seen it a few times previously. This time promises to be different, though, as Noah’s departure will surely necessitate some degree of reimagination of the arrangement. I have no doubt this will be one of the highlights for everyone in attendance.

2. The Fifth Day

The first time I heard “The Fifth Day,” from the fourth row at Red Rocks, I was stunned into silence. Seriously – it was drop-dead gorgeous, and I was certain that it would be a showstopper on the subsequent tour. Whether it’s because the band didn’t feel they could do it justice without an orchestra or for some other reason, it didn’t happen. I expect that the version we hear on Sept. 20 will be significantly different, with only Anna Bulbrook and her viola to bring the symphonic element, and I’m counting the days till I get to see what they do with it.

1. This is Nowhere

It’s funny. Had I written this list a year and a half ago, “This is Nowhere” would have been on it, but much farther down. But once I decided to name the website after it, it became my great white whale of TATE songs – the one I have to see in person, but feared I never would. And yet, here it comes.

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.

Colleen HooverEd. Note: We recently stumbled across an interview with New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, in which she mentioned that her new novel, Ugly Love, was inspired by the music of The Airborne Toxic Event. Naturally, this piqued our interest. Earlier this week, we had a chance to connect with Colleen to hear more about the book, her TATE fandom, and how the band influenced her latest work.

Colleen is generously giving away a signed copy of Ugly Love to one lucky reader. (Update: the prize has been won by Anna Shaw. Congrats!)

For those who aren’t familiar with your work, tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing career thus far.

I’ve been writing for a little less than three years now.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I married young and had three kids while in college, and writing couldn’t really pay our bills. Because of this, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2005. I was working for the state of Texas as a social worker and my husband was a full-time truck driver.  We were living in a mobile home with our three kids and living paycheck to paycheck, but we were happy.  I began writing my first “story” in late 2011 for fun, and self-published it to Amazon in January, 2012. I never tried to get it published because I didn’t think anyone would care to read it. I also didn’t think it was good enough to ever be considered a “novel.”  I mostly wrote the story for friends and family, but word of mouth began to spread and within five months of the book being on Amazon, it became a New York Times bestseller.  Since then, I’ve signed with Simon & Schuster, and have completed six more novels, all of which have been bestsellers on the New York Times.  It has, without a doubt, been an insane two years and I’m just trying to keep up.

What can you tell us about your writing style, and themes you tackle in your work?

I’m a very ADD reader, which means I’m not a very good reader.  I get bored easily and tend to skip over detailed descriptions and entire chapters.  I write the same way that I read, so I have to keep my books fast-paced and interesting with a lot of dialogue or I’d never finish writing them.  I’d get way too bored.  I don’t think of myself as an author and I definitely don’t consider my books literature.  I don’t write to educate or inform, I simply write to entertain.

I do, however, love to play devil’s advocate with my stories.  I like to take controversial themes and throw them into my book so that when people read them, they are seeing things from a different perspective.  I mean, we all know student-teacher relationships are wrong, but in one of my books, I write it in a way that you can’t help but root for the couple.

Without giving anything away of course, can you give us an overview of Ugly Love? What’s it all about?

Ugly Love is about a guy named Miles and a girl named Tate who become neighbors.  Miles is really brooding and intense and quiet.  The type of guy Tate is drawn to.  They enter into a “friends with benefits” type of relationship, only they weren’t really friends to begin with.  Miles tells Tate he only has two rules for their arrangement:

Don’t ask about his past and never expect a future.

Well…that gets a little difficult and the rest of the story builds from there.

It’s not your typical, “Guy and girl have a sexual relationship and end up falling in love” story.  It’s essentially two stories in one, and one of the stories will break your heart while the other will hopefully put it back together again.

You mentioned in another interview that your inspiration for Miles came when you were listening to The Airborne Toxic Event. Were there any songs in particular that inspired the book or Miles’ character? If so, which one(s)? How is TATE’s influence seen in the book, aside from the obvious use of the name Tate for your lead character, and of Mikel as Miles’ middle name?

I was listening to “The Fifth Day” while driving and got the idea for Miles’s character.  His personality fits that song perfectly.  Once I began focusing on his character, I built the rest of the story around that.

Tate’s character wasn’t necessarily inspired by anything other than Miles’s character.  I wanted him to find someone who would challenge him. The feel for the book, however, was inspired by the song, “Sometime Around Midnight.”  That’s one of my favorite TATE songs, because it has all the feels.  Angst, Love, Heartbreak, Agony.  I wanted the book to produce those same reactions in the reader.

Do you see parallels between your own writings on love, loss and dark subjects (like in your book Hopeless) and similar themes in Airborne’s songs?

I believe music in itself is a parallel to books.  Especially TATE’s music.  The lyrics they write are unlike any other lyrics I’ve ever read, and it almost feels as if each song tells a story.  I think one of the parallels I’ve noticed between their lyrics and my novels is that, despite the fact that my novels are romance novels, they are also books about life. About real issues and real people.  Books about death and heartache and loss. It’s so much more than “just” a romance, and I feel this with their music.  They have songs that revolve around life and death and issues that have nothing to do with romance.  One of my favorites is “All At Once.”  I remember a few months ago the song came on during a drive with my mother.  I didn’t even notice she was paying attention to it, but once the song ended, she took her glasses off and began wiping her eyes.  She said, “That’s a powerful song.”

And she’s right.  It’s a powerful song and I only hope that I can get across a fraction of those feelings when I write my books.

In your previous books there were several references to the Avett Brothers. Is there any reason you chose not to directly mention TATE in this one?

When I first wrote Slammed, I honestly didn’t think anyone would read it.  I decided to add lyrics to the book from The Avett Brothers, because one of their lines, “Decide what to be and go be it,” is actually what inspired me to start writing.  I was so grateful for those lyrics that I thought it would be a good way to thank them by hopefully introducing a few of my friends to their music through adding the lyrics to the book.  I never imagined so many people would read the book.  That’s a wonderful thing, but I also have this fear in the back of my head that maybe The Avett Brothers assume I used their lyrics for personal gain, to piggy back off their fan-base.  I know that’s preposterous, because those guys are awesome and would never think that (hopefully), but it’s still always a nagging fear.  Because of this, it has changed my experience with their music.  They are and will always be one of my favorite bands, but I get really self-conscious when I talk about them publicly because of those random fears.

I love TATE to the moon and back and was afraid the same thing would happen if I were to include them or their lyrics with Ugly Love.  In a sense, it’s almost very selfish of me, because I just don’t want my experience with their music to be affected in any way.  I thought it would be neat to put a few hidden gems into the book and see if the true TATE fans would recognize them.  Kind of like a little, “Hey!  I’m a fan, too!” kind of thing, rather than an in-your-face, “I LOVE THIS BAND EVERYONE NEEDS TO LOVE THEM TOO OMG” kind of thing.

I don’t know if any of that makes sense.

Do you consider yourself a big Airborne fan? If so, how long have you followed the band and how did you discover them?

The first song I heard by them was “Changing.”  A friend had posted it on Facebook and wasn’t even talking about the band or the song when she posted it, just about the message she received when someone sent her the song.  I clicked on the song and absolutely loved it, and then clicked on the next and the next and the next.  You know how it goes.  By the end of the hour, I had downloaded every single song they had on iTunes and I haven’t stopped listening to them since.

Have you seen the band live? If so, do you have any special concert memories?

I saw them in Chicago last year and it was the BEST night of my life.  I’m very weird when it comes to meeting celebrities.  I’m the type of person who would rather never meet them, because I’m very awkward in person.  However, the two girls I was with at the concert wanted to stay afterward and hopefully catch them walking to the bus. We hung around for a while and after six Margaritas (I never drink, so I was smashed) one of the crew members handed me a setlist when he walked by me.  I screamed (I’m not a screamer) and couldn’t believe how excited I was.  I just don’t get very outwardly excited, but the second I got that setlist I wanted nothing more than to get a picture with Mikel.  Well, he walked out and began taking pics with the crowd.  We were off to the side and several of his friends were waiting for him across the street.  He told everyone he needed to go and began walking away and my friend yelled, “She flew all the way from Texas to get a picture with you!” So he stopped and turned around and took this pic with us.  I’m on the right.

Mikel Jollett with Colleen Hoover

Best moment of my life.

Finally, as you probably know, The Airborne Toxic Event drew their name from Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise. Have you read it, and if so, what did you think of it?

I actually have not read the novel, but know of the connection.  I love that their band name was inspired by a novel.  I watched an interview with them recently in which the reporter stated Mikel started out writing a book, which turned into writing lyrics somehow.  I find that fascinating, because it’s further proof that art can inspire art.  My writing career was inspired by music and Mikel’s music career was inspired by writing.

One of the things I love to do in my novels is incorporate some form of art into books.  In my first novel, the main character is a slam poet and performs on stage.  It was a challenge to capture the feel of performance poetry through written word, but I had so much fun doing it, that it inspired my novel Maybe Someday.  The characters in Maybe Someday are musicians, and I teamed up with musician Griffin Peterson to create an original soundtrack to accompany the book.  All the songs on the soundtrack were “created” by the characters during scenes in the book.

With Ugly Love, I took a bit of liberty with all the chapters from Miles’s point of view.  They aren’t written in a typical fashion.  I use different fonts and word placement, centering down the page to give more of a visual impact when he experiences different emotions.

With my newest novel, Confess, I’ve teamed up with an artist in London who is creating all the pieces of art that the “character” paints in the book.

I love to bridge the gap between reading and other forms of art.  Maybe that’s what drew me to TATE’S music in the beginning.  They do the same with their music.  If you pay close attention, especially in songs such as “Sometime Around Midnight,” it’s more than just music and lyrics.  The song begins like a soft opening introduction to a story, and then the music builds and builds throughout the song, creating a suspenseful feel before reaching the “climax” and then easing us into “the end.”

It’s almost as if the songs are books themselves.  Maybe that’s why I love them all so much.

Purchase Ugly Love:

Barnes & Noble

Purchase the Music that Inspired Ugly Love:

The Fifth Day
Sometime Around Midnight

Steven Chen and Adrian Rodriguez of The Airborne Toxic Event rock Milwaukee's Summerfest. Photo by THINKlocal (see link below).

Steven Chen and Adrian Rodriguez of The Airborne Toxic Event rock Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Photo by THINKlocal (see link below).

By Glen

Thanks to summer vacation, it’s been three weeks since our last Airborne Toxic Event roundup. So, you’ll have to forgive us if some of this seems like old news. For those of you who’ve been enjoying holidays of your own, here’s what you missed.


Airborne played two festivals earlier this month: Milwaukee’s Summerfest, and the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. Though news was scant from the latter, Summerfest did yield a number of things that piqued our interest.

First up is a chat that Mikel Jollett, Steven Chen and Anna Bulbrook had with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As with any good TATE interview, it covers a tremendous amount of ground in a brief amount of time – none of it particularly newsworthy, mind you, if you’re seeking insight on the status of the next album or the whereabouts of Noah Harmon. Nevertheless, it’s fun to hear from the gang as they touch on the enthusiasm of the Summerfest audience, the uniqueness of the last venue they played in Milwaukee (The Rave), Mikel’s guilty TV pleasure, Anna’s fondness for capoeira, Steven’s skateboarding antics and their recommended summer reading picks.

Following the gig, the Sentinel posted a brief review and a handful of photos. The recap was backhandedly complimentary, as scribe Jason Kellner praised the performance while offhandedly painting the band as a “junior Arcade Fire” who “showed that it’s capable of putting more raw power into its live show than it can muster on recordings.”

Meanwhile, THINKlocal posted a larger set of photos on their Facebook page, including the one featured at the top of this article.

New TATE Tour Dates

Immediately after their recent appearances in Milwaukee and Minneapolis respectively, the band announced the addition of new fall tour dates in – you guessed it – Milwaukee and Minneapolis. The quintet will hit the aforementioned Rave in Milwaukee on Oct. 17, before playing First Avenue in Minny two nights later.

Coming Soon: The Airborne Toxic Event Live on Yahoo Screen

On July 15, Yahoo Screen (in partnership with Live Nation) live streamed a concert featuring the Dave Matthews Band. It marked the first of 365 days of free, live streamed performances by the Who’s Who of music. And although the schedule has only been released through mid-August thus far, there are tantalizing things ahead for TATE fans. The Live Nation press release that announced the endeavor lists Airborne among the acts that will be showcased in the coming year, alongside names as diverse as Justin Timberlake, Usher, Kiss, John Legend, Kodaline and The Gaslight Anthem.

That’s right: sometime in the next 12 months we’ll all have a chance to catch a TATE gig from the comfort of our own couches. More details as we get them.

The Inspirational Fifth Day

Jerrell Chow of Mind Equals Blown muses about the music that inspires him, and why he connects to it so instinctively. As his most recent example, he cites “The Fifth Day,” about which he writes, “‘The Fifth Day’ was so mind-blowing, especially as the song progressed into the outro and exploded into a myriad of colorful melodies and sounds in scintillating fashion. I feel my spirits lifted every time the song comes up on my playlist.”

“The Fifth Day” was so mind-blowing, especially as the song progressed into the outro and exploded into a myriad of colorful melodies and sounds in scintillating fashion. I feel my spirits lifted every time the song comes up on my playlist. – See more at:

Toxic Gold

Does all our talk of Summerfest have you wishing you were there? Fret not – Tim Newell has you covered with this full-length, front row video of the entire show. Quench your live TATE thirst as you await the fall tour. Just 62 more days…

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.