Old 97′s have been cooking their tasty brew of rock ‘n’ roll for 20 years now, and the Dallas-based band is out with a new album today called “Most Messed Up” that’s getting rave reviews.
The New Yorker calls it “blistered, blasted, and brilliant: song after song about the diminishing returns of the road, the ravages of early middle age.”
In response, Old 97′s frontman Rhett Miller told Here & Now’s Robin Young, “I’m only 43. I intend to live to be 120, so I’m not even middle aged yet.”
Interview Highlights: Rhett Miller
On the first song on the album, ‘Longer Than You’ve Been Alive’
“‘Rock stars were once such mythical creatures, up there with presidents, playmates and preachers.’ The idea behind this song was to break all these rules that I’ve tried so hard to follow all these years. I have wanted songs to be universal and not specific about me or my life or this weird job, and it just occurred to me, this is the 20th anniversary of the first album of my band, and a lot of the people in the audience every night when I look out are literally younger than my career. And I just thought, if I’m ever going to address this as someone who’s experienced it longer than most people get to, now seems like the time, because I still get to rock and I love to rock.”
On how being in a rock band has changed
“There used to be such mystique connected to rock and roll. And I get why that is and was — or perhaps just was – cool, because I grew up loving rock and roll and reading, you know, David Bowie biographies. But the way it is now, with everybody on Instagram and Twitter and so accessible via the internet, that’s changed. And now you sort of know what your favorite band had for breakfast and you know what they’re into and what they’re really like. And in a lot of cases, you see pictures of their kids — although I’ve tried to avoid that kind of stuff. But the walls are down and I think that’s kind of a good thing. It makes it really more about the music and less about the pose. I’d rather be honest, you know, I don’t have to apologize for anything.”
On songs about drinking
“I’ve always thought about it. Some of the songs that resonate most throughout our catalog with our fans are the songs that address it, but they’re more oblique and more, in some ways, glamorizing than this collection. This is a lot more sort of realistic about — sometimes it really is fun to drink whiskey and be with your loved one, and sometimes it’s fun to get a little bit wheels-off and stuff gets weird, but at a certain point, it gets too weird, and I think that happens on this record too. I don’t have any answers — I really don’t — I just wanted to approach it in a realistic fashion and try and be honest with it and grapple with it.”
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- Rhett Miller, front man for the Old 97′s. He tweets @rhettmiller. You can follow him on Instagram by that same handle, rhettmiller.