|Singer Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers performs at the Air Canada Centre in this file photo. (DAVID LUCAS/QMI Agency)
Life in The Wallflowers is more than Jake these days.
The recently reconstituted rockers' new disc Glad All Over isn't just their first album in seven years -- it's also the first they wrote as a group, frontman Jakob Dylan reveals.
"I've sat down with the burden of writing 15 songs by myself for the last 20 years," he says. "That's how it's worked for the band's history. But there are other ways to do it. And when we got to this record, we'd had a lot of discussions beforehand. The band wanted to be more involved with the writing, and I wanted the assistance."
Something else they wanted: To reconnect with the simple pleasure of making music -- the thing that brought them together more than two decades ago, long before the days of hit singles like One Headlight and platinum albums like 1996's Bringing Down the Horse. One spin of Glad All Over and it's clear they succeeded. Recorded on the fly in The Black Keys' Nashville studio, the album finds the group -- original singer-guitarist Dylan, keyboard player Rami Jaffee and bassist Greg Richling, now joined by lead guitarist Stuart Mathis and former Chili Peppers / Pearl Jam drummer Jack Irons -- rocking harder and louder than they have in a decade, happily sacrificing slick perfection for raw immediacy.
From his L.A. home, the 42-year-old Dylan -- you may have heard of his father -- called up to talk musical chemistry, banishing ballads and making bets with his old man.
Why did it take so long for this reunion to happen? Was it a case of time healing old wounds?
I wouldn't say there were wounds. We had just been doing it so long. Specifically, I had. I'd always done Wallflowers records. If I wasn't making them, I was writing them. The other guys had opportunities to work with other people. But it never seemed I did. So it was just timely to step away from it and come back when things had been reprioritized. It was a long time coming.
How did things get reprioritized?
With some distance, everybody stumbled upon a real appreciation for one another and for what we had. I have played with countless excellent musicians since we took a break. But you don't get the same thing you get with a band. When you're a solo artist, each time you start with different people and it takes time to develop any kind of chemistry. That's why bands tend to make great records and solo artists -- well, they make great records, but they tend to be singer-songwriter records. And eventually I thought: 'I want to make a rock 'n' roll record; I'll call The Wallflowers.' And we're coming back at it with all the right motivations.
How did that affect the way you made the album?
We did it the way we did it when we were 21: We rehearsed for weeks, then went and performed our record. And you can really only do that when you've got a lot of chemistry and a great band that doesn't need to sit around and overdub for days. We did very little of that. We've spent our time looking at computer screens. It's kind of a fruitless venture, really. What people respond to in music is the interaction. So we were bent on just performing the songs.
There are no ballads on the album. Was that a rule?
It wasn't really a rule, but we had conversations about it. We've covered that ground plenty, the mid-tempo stuff. We don't really need anymore midtempo ballads in our set ... We wanted it to be something we could take out on tour and feel good about.
Your dad also has a new album this fall. Do you two put a little friendly wager on who's going to do better?
That would be a losing bet on my part, my friend.