Jeff Rosenstock fills in the blank after 'Post-'
Jeff Rosenstock's new album, "Post-" is heavy—musically and lyrically.
I caught up with him before he plays the Back Room @ Colectivo tomorrow, April 28 in Milwaukee.
We talked about the magic of singing along to group vocals, that hot tub in South Wisconsin and trying to have empathetic political conversations in 2018.
Rosenstock first spoke on where the album title came from. It doesn't sound like he knows either.
“I have a bunch of notebooks and there was a page in a notebook that I was looking back on one day and it just said, “Album title: ‘Post-‘?”
And, he went with it. He used it as a working title, eventually finding more meaning in it as he went along.
“That one, it kept making me think about other stuff. It’s weird because it’s not like nobody’s ever thought of having an open-ended title or saying 'post-anything' or whatever, but the more I was working on it I was like, 'Yeah, that’s the name of this record. For sure.'”
But, he says that ultimately it doesn't matter what it means to him.
"I think the important part is that it certainly feels like all of us are on the other side of something. You know what I mean?"
I think we all do.
He talks about the day after the election, being on tour with his friends and walking around with "that blankness to the world." He trails off with a lot of swear words.
"Post-" switches between the emotions felt from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. It started out with the confusion and anger of the day after and then changed to the feeling of empathy.
"It seems like we’re living in an era where no matter what side you are on, there’s no empathy for anybody else except for the thing that you believe in."
"It sounds like we’re trying to empathetic towards racist people. Hell no. Racist people need to open their eyes and realize the privilege of this country and that it’s got to change." Rather, his empathy is "for the people who don’t realize that they’re doing things that result in continuing the racist power structure of America. That’s a heavy thought for someone who’s never thought about that before."
His lyric writing is conversational and he knows it. It's about getting a conversation going. He says it's just how he deal with things that are happening in the world.
“It’s a feeling of having bottled it all up and then calling up a buddy and being like ‘Yo, we need to get coffee and talk about this because I feel insane right now’.”
This comes through with several moods in "Post-." Some of the record strays away from the sad songs and bring forth a heavy hook. Rosenstock talks about the influence of ambient music like Alvvays mixed with the heaviness of Black Sabbath.
“When we’re heavy I want to be heavy. When we’re sweet and spacey, I want it to feel cinematic and open and wide," he says. "I’m just trying to make the kind of music I want to listen to."
I’m just trying to make the kind of music I want to listen to.
I asked him about the voice on "Mornin'."
He says it's Laura Stevenson. She had just left Rosenstock’s place when we spoke. He tells me that her message at the beginning of the record was almost a prank to set apart from the mood of the heavier subjects on the music.
“She did a bunch of singing on the record from home and then we put it in. I sent her the tracks to sing some stuff on top of it. At the end of one of the tracks, she said that just as a goof. I thought it would be funny to put the goof at the start of the record and not tell her.”
Stevenson's wasn't the only voice featured on the album though. Rosenstock talked about his inclusion of gang vocals on "Post-" and how it was one of the happiest days in his life of recording.
“I’ve always been a big fan of stuff with group vocals/gang vocals. I’m used to being a kid going to hardcore shows. Everybody’s singing their things. Like the Misfits with all their group 'woahs'…That’s why there’s group vocals all over everything. PUP does that really good too. It’s fun. On “Worry,” we had a hundred people do it. That was weird. That was really fun.”
Finally, I told Rosenstock that we needed to hear the back story for “Nausea,” off his previous record “We Cool,” where he mentions being in a hot tub in Wisconsin.
“I think it was in Beloit, but it might have been Wisconsin Dells. It was in the winter. I was on a solo tour. I had good show. It was just me on tour and a Baymont Inn & Suites, which is like Motel 6- a little like Super 8 level. Not too nice, but they rooms with hot tubs in them. I was like “Okay. I’ll splurge and I’ll spend $90 instead of $60 and get a room with a hot tub in it.”
We're glad he did. We got a great song out of it.