Deaf dumb and blind boy, he’s in a quiet
totalitarian Bush-fueled vibration land…
By Fred Mills
combo the Jet Age, greatly admired by Silver Spring-based music magazine BLURT,
is set to hit the road next week that will take them across the country to the
West Coast and the northwest then back across for a brief swing through the
south. It’s all in support of the trio’s latest album What Did You Do
During the War, Daddy? (Sonic Boomerang Records), a kind of “imaginary
musical in three acts” that not only allows frontman Eric Tischler to subtly
indulge his Pete Townshend fetish by creating a rock opera for the modern era —
longtime Tischler watchers have always cheered the Who-styled brawn he brings
to his material, going all the way back to his Hurricane Lamps days — but
injects some much-needed musical commentary into the current state of cultural
affairs in Amerika as we venture forth towards Election Day.
As the Jet Age themselves put it, What Did You Do During
the War, Daddy? “asks what our responsibility is, as citizens, when our
government is out of control.”
Appropriately enough, the band will be playing the album in
its entirety at concerts. In a revealing interview earlier this year with Sean
Kendall of Pensatos (viewable in its entirety at www.pensatos.com), Tischler held forth on
Kendall: With What
Did You Do… The main character throughout the album can be viewed as either
a terrorist or a revolutionist. Are his views yours as a band to some degree?
Tischler: You’re absolutely right about the duality of the
main character. His views are mine only insofar as his frustration is certainly
informed by my own. However, I really want to make it clear that I absolutely
do not endorse blowing things up. At all… The story in this record affords me a venue to discuss this stuff and ask,
“If not violence, then what?” And that’s not a rhetorical question.
If marches on Washington
are ignored, and democracy is in the hands of Diebold, what DO we have to do to
fix things? I genuinely don’t know. It frightens the hell out of me.
We’ve got another election coming up and I’m afraid I don’t
share the optimism of a lot of my friends. I think we have been conditioned to
be scared (see the song ‘Dumb’) and I worry that we’re not out of the woods
yet. In these very scary times, a lot of people are going to vote for the
candidate that they consider to be safe. This is something the three of us have
been talking about a lot lately, and I look forward to being proven wrong.
Your album is broken
down like a play with acts. One of the underlined effects of the album is the
almost jubilation sound of love in the first act to the creeping darker songs
as it progresses into less cordial atmospheres on act two and three. Was this
based off experience with your political views and a relationship?
Sort of, insofar as I’m crazy about my family and horrified
by the state of our country. You’ve got the emotional trajectory dead on. The
first act (the first batch of songs) is intended to establish a happy family,
ideally so that, by the time the guy goes and gets himself killed, you
understand why he did it (for love of his family), and how it impacts his
family. The reason the album starts and ends with ‘Ladies, Don’t Cry Tonight’
is that it’s a widow’s lament. In its first iteration, it’s to establish that,
in the background of the happy first act, there’s a war going on. At the end,
it’s for the protagonist’s wife, who’s lost her husband.
The second act illustrates the father’s awakening to the
reality that, while his home may be a happy place, his country is not, hence
the darkening tone.
Also of note: While preparing for the upcoming tour, Tischler
was commissioned to remix the lead track for The Wedding Present’s first ever download-only single “The Thing I
Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend” from the band’s new album El Rey.
(See BLURT’s digital magazine for a review.) Four different versions of the
song (three recorded by Steve Albini),
including Tischler’s mix are now available at all the usual download outlets.
The Jet Age Tour Dates:
6/27 Des Moines,
IA Vaudeville Mews (All Ages)
CO Old Curtis St. Bar
WA KEXP-FM Live On-Air
6/30 Seattle, WA The High Dive
OR The Towne Lounge
7/02 San Francisco,
CA Hemlock Tavern
7/03 Los Angeles,
CA The Troubadour (w/ The Constantines, Ladyhawk)
GA Lenny’s Bar