This is the first new TGA album in almost 10 years. You’ve released several solo albums in that time, but do you still personally feel what a big deal this is?
“Yeah! Of course. I think it’d be silly not to. I almost look at it like they’re different projects – even though I’m behind the scenes there, it feels different and unique in its own way. It’s like when John Frusciante came back to the Chili Peppers – the Chili Peppers never stopped making records, but that was a big event. That was like, ‘Whoa, John’s back!’ I think that’s cause for celebration.”
It’s been such a long time since the last album – 2014’s Get Hurt – but given that History Books follows it in the Gaslight discography, was there anything about that record that was hanging over you?
“Oh, no. I think it’s been so long, and there’s such a different perspective on the whole thing. I don’t want to say it’s like a ‘new beginning’… but maybe it is. I’m kinda contradicting myself there! But I don’t think about the philosophical conceptualisation of the band, because I’m in it, and I’m just like, ‘This is good; this is fun!’ And I can’t wait to show it to people. I don’t know if I get too existential about it (laughs).”
In terms of things being fun, you’ve spoken before about not actually really enjoying the process of songwriting very much. Was that still the case this time?
“I used to hate it because it was so hard – you have to go through this whole, ‘Am I fake? Can I do this? Am I a fraud?’ thing every time, and you forget how to write songs. Even Paul McCartney said that in an NPR interview a few years ago – he was like, ‘Every time I sit down I forget how to write songs.’
“There was a lot of anxiety, and then I went to see the doctor before I started writing. I was like, ‘Everything sort of has this buzz of terror behind it in my head, and I don’t feel like it should be that hard.’ And it was also happening for insignificant things, too, like, ‘Did I wash my hands enough when I just touched that raw chicken? Am I gonna get a flat tyre? Is this plane gonna crash?’ It was constant, about everything. I woke up one morning, maybe the week before the first solo tour after the pandemic, and I said to my wife, ‘I get that life is hard, but there’s something inside me that is telling me that life is not supposed to be this hard; it’s not supposed to be hard every day, all the time, with no break.’
“I started a medication programme and had been working on that, and then when it finally came time to sit down and write, I found it much easier to gather my thoughts because there wasn’t just this dread happening all the time. I remember going out and saying to my wife, ‘This is a lot different!’ You know, writing the next Gaslight album after nine years is not an easy task! It’s not like, ‘Yeah, no big deal, I’ll just throw out whatever!’ It’s a big deal to the fans that we’ve established, and the people that believe in us, so it was very important. Normally, that would send me into a tizzy, just the pressure alone. I would not be able to do it; I’d clam up and just be like, ‘I don’t think I can do it.’
“This isn’t a mental health record, but this is just me personally: it was hard for me to write, and now it’s easier. It’s a little embarrassing to talk about, because I don’t really wanna be like, ‘Hey, I’m on medication!’ Because I’m not outwardly personal about every little detail of my life. But I think that there are so many other people in creative positions that are probably dealing with this, and that was a huge help to me.”
Is life in general a bit easier now, too?
“Yeah! And the biggest thing too is that you can’t receive all the joy that’s happening around you when you’re in that place. There were epic things that happened to us that none of us could see, because we were just so wound up by stuff. It’s a thing that really, really blinds you, when you’re in a depression. You could win a million dollars and be like, ‘Well, I don’t care.’ It sucks so bad, and you can’t see it. But everybody has definitely sorted themselves out; everybody has grown, and gotten a little healthier, and that kind of thing.”