For Eels' New Album, The Idea Was To Not Have An Idea

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Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett performs in the Soundcheck studio.

Eels is the the longtime, ever-evolving project led by guitarist and songwriter Mark Oliver Everett, who also goes by the single initial “E.” Over the last two decades, Everett has managed to keep one foot in the mainstream, with alternative chart hits, and one foot in the decidedly experimental and deeply conceptual. His dynamic songs have brought Eels critical acclaim, and the band’s latest album, Wonderful, Glorious, is no exception. Everett, along with guitarists P-Boo and The Chet, join us in the studio for a stripped-down performance and conversation about the new record.

Set List:

• On The Ropes

• Accident Prone

• I'm Your Brave Little Soldier

On entering the studio without a clear artistic vision for the first time:

“The idea originally behind it was to not have an idea, which was a unique approach for me. I thought, I usually go into making an album with a very specific lyrical concept or musical direction I want it to go in. And this time I thought it would be a worthy experiment to just call the guys and say, 'Let’s just meet on this date and see what happens.' It could have been a disaster, and I was willing to take that risk, simply because I hadn't done it that way.”

On developing Eels’ live show:

“We are showmen. I don’t believe in wasting anyone’s time. We don’t rehearse in the basement and then come out and stare at our shoes. We try to imagine ourselves in the audience and [ask], ‘What can we do to impress ourselves?’ We are impressed by kickass shows, so that’s what we aim to do.”

On the deceptively positive tone of the track, “Accident Prone”:

“To me, ‘Accident Prone’ is a celebration that there are all these factors out of our control that sometimes — you know, on the front of the album cover, there’s a bomber dropping bombs. And we’re all dodging these bombs every day, and every once in a while you get hit by one. And you may not know it, but it could be the best thing that ever happened to you.”

On his role in This Is 40, which was cut from the movie but uploaded on YouTube:

“I play a heightened version of myself where I’m even ruder and more eccentric than I actually am. It was pretty fun…. [W]e shot it like 40 different times, and all of it was improvised. I’m sitting there acting with Paul Rudd. So it was just a really fun experience.”