“There was a period of time when I was waking up an hour or two before sunrise and writing songs in the dark. I was also reading a book that was based in the swampland that had a very visual, dark, vibey thing going on. The combination of the literal darkness, the darkness from the book, and the original concept of the record (cosmic outlaw blues) brought this song to life.”– Jonah Tolchin on “Black Hole”
Tolchin made his Mountain Stage debut late last year, where he performed “Black Hole,” amongst a few other tracks. Check out that performance here.
Dark and eerie, the bluesy “Black Hole” eases its way into the transition between Tolchin’s previous output of songs and his more experimental instincts. “I wanted to let go and cut loose with this album. I wanted to explore new terrain without any kind of rules or restrictions. I was a pretty rebellious kid, and I mostly listened to alternative rock and hip hop and punk growing up. Somewhere along the way, though, I feel like I lost that part of myself. These songs are my way of reclaiming it.”
More sonically diverse than previous efforts, Lava Lamp’s lifeblood is built around the energy of loose, live-in-the-studio performances steeped in Tolchin’s folk-blues stylings and fueled by grunge guitars and a robust rhythm section. Featuring seven original compositions and two covers: “Car You Drive” by Josh Flowers and Tom Petty’s “Grew Up Fast,” Lava Lamp is a raw and emotional reckoning with alienation and escapism in a modern-day world defined by 24/7 stimulation.
From the punchy angular guitars and lo-fi vocals that channel The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas on “Aliens” (co-written with Marvin Etzioni); to the churning, gritty, retro-futuristic hooks of Dan Auerbach and Jack White on “Never Giving Up,” to the brooding title track that lands between Nirvana and The Sonics as Tolchin declares, “When I watch my lava lamp I don’t want to feel a fucking thing,” the album finds him returning to the musical sandbox of his youth.
Co-produced with multi-instrumentalist/engineer Nic Coolidge, Lava Lamp was recorded with a three-piece that included Coolidge on bass and Tolchin’s longtime friend and collaborator Kevin Clifford on drums. “The three of us are the only musicians on the entire album,” explains Tolchin, who played more electric guitar than ever on the album. “We recorded most of it, even my vocals, live on the floor as a band, just feeding off each other’s energy.”
A bridge between roots and rock, between youth and adulthood, between expectation and liberation, for his fifth studio album Tolchin penned more coy and irreverent songs, drawn from freewheeling, uninhibited, stream-of-consciousness writing sessions, an evolution inspired by The Pixies.
“I remember taking my soon-to-be-wife to see The Pixies play at The Fillmore in Philly as a Valentine’s Day gift and just having my mind blown,” Tolchin says. “It was like, ‘Wow, this is some real, raw emotion being delivered through some loud, electrified music.’ After spending so much of my time in the folk and blues worlds, it just hit me in a completely different way.”Tags: Jonah Tolchin, Lava Lamp, New Release