Blistering pace for Everett, aka Eels
There was a time when releasing three full-length albums in 14 months wouldn’t have seemed so unusual. Today, it’s practically unheard of.
Yet that’s what Mark Oliver Everett, better known to his fans as “E,” just accomplished. The discs are so different in theme and execution that it almost seems like the man singing on “Tomorrow Morning” isn’t the same person as on “End Times.”
The first disc, “Hombre Loco,” typified by the feral stomper “Prizefighter,” has songs about desire. The bleak “End Times,” motivated by the 47-year-old Everett’s own despair, is a piercing, quiet examination of how the end of a relationship feels different as a person ages. “Tomorrow Morning” sees the sun rise, as Everett finds love again and gives himself the challenge of writing “warm” songs while using what are considered cold-sounding electronic instruments exclusively.
The burst of activity came after four years without music from Everett, who records under the band name Eels. Everett worked on a PBS documentary about his father, quantum physicist Hugh Everett III, and wrote the well-regarded memoir, “Things the Grandchildren Should Know.”
In the book, Everett writes about the tragedies in his life: finding the body of a father he barely knew after he died of a heart attack; his mother’s death from cancer; and his only sibling’s mental illness and suicide. It’s poignant â€” and with some surprising humor.
The Associated Press: Are things as good in your life now as they appear on “Tomorrow Morning”?
Eels: Oddly enough, they still are. And I don’t think people should worry too much about that. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to start writing John Denver songs.
AP: Did you expect this to be a trilogy of three albums in 14 months?
Eels: It wasn’t until a certain point that I realized I wanted to make it a three-part story, and I also wanted to put them out fairly rapidly compared to the usual because of the four-year absence. I thought it would be a good time to make up for lost time.
AP: What did the experience of putting out so much music so quickly teach you?
Eels: Now that I’m on the other end of it, I’m quite amazed that I did it. I wouldn’t mind keeping up that pace personally. I’ve always liked that ’60s pace of putting out two albums a year, but they did have the benefit of speed and other drugs that kept you going back then, before you knew how bad they were for you. Now that we know you can’t do that, you just have to drink a lot of coffee.
AP: In some respects it lends power to the concepts by having them pile up in that way.
Eels: That’s what I was thinking. You really notice the individuality of each album in that way.
AP: With “End Times” and its discussion of mature heartbreak, did you think it was a good concept or were you just reacting to what was going on in your life?
Eels: It was what was happening in my life. For a long time, I never considered writing about what was going on with the tragedies in my family, and then I realized every time I sat down to write something else, I felt like I was an actor, like I was faking something.
AP: Did your memoir bring people in to hear your music who might not otherwise have heard it?
Eels: I think that has happened, and it also happened with the documentary that was made about my father. We have a whole new audience of physics geeks.