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Scout Beck

The Jet Age
'Destroy.Rebuild' interview

Scout Beck, Editor

They've written a hard hitting album encompassing vast themes and they've delivered it with passion.

Out on August 28, 'Destroy.Rebuild' is the sixth offering from The Jet Age and it's a record covering the hope, angst and despair riddling American society.

With tracks entitled 'I Can't Breathe' and 'Don't Make A Sound', the Washington DC trio echo the suffocation and fears of a nation in light of the death of Eric Garner in police custody, the Baltimore riots and immeasurable political wrangling and failings.

It's difficult not to be affected by the emotion in the album, it's delivery is rapid, live sounding and raw. It sweeps rapidly from desperation to uneasy peace, and the result is satisfying and exhausting.

The band have worked freely to create this sound. Recording as live for the majority of the tracks has brought an energy and freshness to the album. Frontman Eric Tischler has said he felt he has compromised the emotion on previous records and concerned himself with writing 'types' of songs.

With 'Destroy. Rebuild', it would appear the band have broken out of any mold and are instead driven by the desire to convey serious emotion in the most direct and immediate way possible.

Front man Eric Tischler spoke to us about some of the intention behind this collection.

Firstly, what can you tell us about the album?

"It's our sixth record, and grapples with a lot of the horrible things happening in the U.S. It also examines family life against that backdrop and, as if that wasn't enough, it was very deliberately intended to change the way we make records: I wanted to make sure I showcased the band rather than, say, my production or songwriting chops, although I think those are intact."

Why 'Destroy. Rebuild'?

"If you buy the CD you'll see the drawing that inspired the title. I woke up one morning and my daughter had written the--phrase? sentence? sentences?--on her big easel, and then drawn an angelic figure flying by the words. It just seemed to encapsulate everything the record was about, from the country to troubled families to the band itself as, on the heels of our last record--which was a tribute to our heroes--I felt like we needed to find our core again."

It's a very powerful collection, how much did the events of the last year affect you both personally and in the way you made the album?

"Thank you. I don't think the events of the past year affected the making of the record but, in terms of me personally, as the lyricist, it was impossible not to be affected. When our friends and neighbors are being killed by the people we rely on to defend us ... how can that not be terrifying and heartbreaking? And then, to see our fellow citizens choose leaders who happily make choices that seem to be dooming our planet just so they can further enrich themselves in the here-and-now ... It's pretty fucking hard not to be affected."

'I can't breathe' is such a poignant line in light of the death of Eric Garner, what did you want to say with that line, and that song?

"I worry about appearing to misappropriate--or, worse, capitalize on--Eric's words, but it's how I feel when I see the video of his arrest, or Sandra Bland's. It's how I feel when people fight bitterly to prevent others from being allowed just to MARRY one another. It's how I feel when I see Donald Trump topping presidential polls AFTER spewing a bunch of horrific, racist bullshit. I think it's important to say that, as a white male, Eric Garner's death matters to me--as it should to everyone--and this song is addressed to those who would side with or support the Donald Trumps and corrupt, murderous policemen of the world.

"The actual premise of the song is such people hope that, if they stand in the long shadows of would-be oppressors such as Trump and racist cops and homophobic politicians, they'll be spared the wrath of these rapacious sons of bitches; the song calls bullshit on that mentality."

There is a lot of emotion in the album, was it difficult to make?

"It was difficult to witness the events that informed it, and difficult to write the lyrics in ways that I thought were tonally appropriate. Like, I don't want it to come across as polemical (well, maybe "I Can't Breathe"), but if the emotions are relatable, hopefully it's cathartic for people."

Is there a song that is particularly personal to you?

"No--most of them are pretty personal. "Who Will I Sing This Song For?" was inspired by a friend's divorce, but even then I'm putting myself in that scenario to a certain degree."

Can you tell me about the recording process?

"We tracked all the basics--drums, bass and rhythm guitar--live in a 13-foot-by-15-foot room. I used to take over my whole basement when recording bands, but I recorded The Wedding Present in this configuration for a radio session; we figured it should be as live as possible, and we were about to embark on a tour together, so we crammed into the practice space. The tracks actually turned out really well, you don't need headphones, and there's just a LITTLE bit of bleed to glue everything together, so The Jet Age decided to do it this way, too."

Why did you decide to record the way you did and what do you think it brought to the album?

"It makes recording a much more natural, relaxed process, and one of the goals of this record was to really make sure the band, as a band, was front and center, rather than using us as a vehicle for my songs and production, although I think I've always done a pretty good job of highlighting Greg and Pete's amazing contributions."

How do you all work together?

"Uh, well? There's zero drama, and we're all generally on the same page."

How did the band form originally?

"Greg and I were in The Hurricane Lamps together. When we split, Lamps fan Dave Meyer offered to play bass, and told me he knew a drummer, who was Pete. When Dave moved to Denver, Greg was ready to start rocking, so the baton was passed."

Do you have similar music tastes and backgrounds?

"Not really, but we overlap in interesting places. Pete and I bonded over Th' Faith Healers and The Who (and Pete Townshend's solo career). Greg and I both have a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of classic rock, and a general appreciation of post-punk bands like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and Dream Syndicate. After that, we tend to zig zag and overlap at odd tangents--we all love Swervedriver and The Wedding Present, for example."

Who would you cite as your main musical influences?

"The Who, Ride, Swervedriver and The Verlaines. The Wedding Present and The Clean--and, later, David Kilgour--inspired me to apply some economy to arrangements and the sonics, so I tend to swing through these various overlapping aesthetics."

How would you describe your sound?

"As some combination of the above? Stripped down, explosive guitar pop with dashes of psych? "Our music is red--with purple flashes.""

What were you aiming to achieve with the album?

"To comment on what's happening around us, to offer myself some catharsis given what's happening around us and to help the band reaffirm our own identity as a recording unit."

How do you feel about 'Destroy. Rebuild' now it's completed?

"I'm really happy with it. I don't know that it's our best collection of songs--although it may be--but I think it's our most complete record; it feels whole and cohesive in a way none of the others do, although in many cases the others were intended to be more diverse."

Do you feel it does end in hope? On a personal level, do you feel hope?

"It does end in hope--not to say reassurance--and I do feel hope, it's just tempered with anxiety, but hopefully that keeps me from getting too complacent."

Finally, what's do you look forward to next for the band?

"Since it's not out until the end of the month, I look forward to people actually hearing the record!"

Destroy.Rebuild review here

'It Cuts Both Ways' review here