Is Beguiled typical, or over the 33 tracks are there a million directions?
“A million different directions. I'd say about a third of the record is heavy. A third is kind of more similar to what we've been doing recently, and I don't know what the other third would be called. I guess probably more esoteric to do with the musical. It seems to strike a really nice balance for me when I listen to it. It doesn't feel like there's too much of any one thing, which was important to me. I wanted not to be repetitive, because as you can imagine, over 33 songs if you become repetitive, that's the reason it gets turned it off. So I was determined to not overly do anything.”
This is the third part of a trilogy that started with Mellon Collie… Why did you feel now's the time to do this third part?
“I think it's a huge challenge at this point to sort of make music when you're not at the centre of the cultural zeitgeist, right? You know, there's a huge pressure on the band to always relate back to the past, which is fine, the past is quite nice. But it doesn't really interest me in the sense of, ‘Why would you make music today?’ You get pressure from other people just to make music in the vein of what people think your band is, which for us is never accurate. Usually it has something to do with me screaming and a riff. But if you know our catalogue, a lot of the famous songs weren't screaming and a riff. So, I need stuff to keep me super-motivated to try to produce work at a high level and not get caught up in the idea of, ‘Why am I doing this?’ In essence, I need to pursue music for music sake, and then let everything else kind of work itself out.”
You told us previously that you were working on this at the same time as Cyr, and that you would have three or four things on the go at once. Stressful?
“Sure. It was two years of work. I thought of the project about four to five years ago, but it was about two years of continuous work. And that includes the other 10 songs. So, I figure two years to record about 43 songs in total. And it's hard because it's life, things happen, you don't feel well, I’ve got little kids so I get distracted. It's hard, day after day after day, to go back and say, ‘I’ve really got to get this done.’ There's the old joke about the guy who tries to swim across the English Channel – he gets halfway across it and gets tired. So he swims back. Sometimes when you get so deep in the ocean on an idea, you start thinking, ‘This is crazy, what am I doing?’ But that's what I'm saying – because it's about music for me, and I come back to talking to myself: ‘Well, do you love music? Yes. Do you want to do music? Yes. And this was your idea, by the way…’ You can always stop, and over and over again, I choose to keep going. So that's my inner process, which isn't very attractive to talk about. But yeah, two years of work. It's a lot to take on. I mean, just try writing lyrics for 33 songs! What do you have to say? You have to really go pretty deep to have something to say.”
Where are you going lyrically, then?
“Well, on Beguiled… there's different characters in the musical, but Beguiled is sung from the standpoint of the authoritarian, so it's kind of a reverse thing. It sounds kind of like a classic metal chorus, like Priest or something like, but it's actually the authoritarian figures singing. He's saying, ‘Trust the message.’ At the height of the pandemic, we kept saying trust the science. Having been in public life for 35 years, anytime anyone asks you to trust them, that's when I run. So it's a little bit like somebody saying, if you just have faith in what we stand for, everything will be fine.”