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The Perks of Being The Wallflowers

Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers in New York City.

Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers

The Perks of Being The Wallflowers

by Ronald Sklar

Jakob Dylan and his mates craft a Wallflowers reunion album, which means the boys are back in town.

Wallflowers roll call! Ready — and: Jakob Dylan (lead vocals), Greg Richling (bass), Rami Jaffee (keyboards), Stuart Mathis (guitar) and Red Hot Chili Peppers/Pearl Jam drummer Jack Irons. And they’re back.

The band recently wrapped their long-awaited album, Glad All Over, at Nashville’s Easy Eye sound studio. To date, they’ve recorded six studio albums and won two Grammys. Their biggest hit, “One Headlight,” seems like it was recorded yesterday, but the birth date was 1996.

Frontman Jakob Dylan is the youngest of Bob and Sara’s four children, and has four children of his own. Through what seemed like impossible odds, he was able to emerge from his father’s shadow and forge a successful career and a unique story for himself. Here, he gives us a bit of that story.

Was it as easy getting The Wallflowers back together after so much time away?

It was. The band has always gotten along for the most part. We were all anxious to. We have a strong connection. We were looking forward to it. It was like no time had gone by.

What was it like being in the studio with the old band again?

We hit pretty fast and hard when we made the record. We had to work backwards, almost as if we had none of the experience that we had gathered in twenty years. But I think we knew what we were doing. I listen to what we did and it doesn’t sound labored at all. It’s not a labored record. We trusted ourselves and trusted the moment. Everybody’s energy was pretty much in synch and we moved pretty quickly.

Do you feel different artistically since you were with the group last?

I don’t feel different. I got to do all the things I wanted to do. The Wallflowers is something that I can’t do if they’re not there. There is something I do with the Wallflowers that is the core of me and the essence of who I am as a songwriter. It’s a backdrop that I feel very comfortable in, that I can lean on — that I can depend on. I need that output. As far as being different, you probably have to ask the other guys.

What inspires you?

Once you experience the fix of getting into a song, that’s a rush that never gets old to me. Every song you write, you think it’s the last song you are ever going to get, so anytime [the muse] finds me, I’m available and I chase it. I don’t know when it will show up. Sometimes it doesn’t want to be seen for some time. I can write songs on demand too without those kinds of needs, but ultimately, [inspired songwriting is] where the better music is.

I imagine that people have a sense of you being like your father; perhaps brooding and cryptic. Dark. Would people be surprised by the real you?

I don’t have the responsibility or need to have people see me the way it really is. I have no obligation to do that. In this age, people are revealing everything they’ve got, every ounce, every drop of their personality — begging for love. If some of us don’t fit into that mold, then you appear to be brooding or quiet or reclusive. But I don’t feel that way. I’m not selling me. I’m putting songs out there. That’s what people will hopefully gravitate towards. If their curiosity goes to that place, then what can I do about that? I don’t have a problem with any of those descriptions. There are plenty of comedians out there at the mike stand. You got those too. We need all kinds. There is a role for everybody.

What’s your take on the current state of the music industry? Does the demise of the record industry worry you?

There are more people in the know than I am. I can only tell you from my experience. There is touring business and there is band business and there is opportunity, but the mold is completely cracked and I’m not so sorry about that. The record business had a tremendous run and made a lot of money for a lot of people — most importantly, the artists and the musicians. So I’m not feeling particularly bad for anybody. The bands will still survive. We will just go out and play music. And that’s how it all started. The records were just promotional tools so that you would know the songs before you got [to the live performance]. So that’s still intact. The record business itself went away. There is good news and bad news that comes with that.

What type of music do you like personally? Anything that would surprise us?

I’m always just looking for a good song. Even as a teenager, I was never looking for a pack to be in. I like good songs. I never worried where they come from. I never had to make the decision that many teenagers had to make — you have to like this and not like that. As a teenager in the early Eighties, I liked a lot of the English rock groups. Those were the groups that lifted me up first — that appealed to me — punk music itself, or whatever some people called it. I wasn’t really rebelling against anything in that regard. I just like the good songs from those bands, the English ones.

Have you ever considered another vocation?

I’m still considering one. It’s never too late. [But music and performance is] something that’s integral to me and part of my existence. I don’t over-pontificate or think too much about it. I’ve been doing it for a long time and it feels right. If I didn’t feel that way, I would have pursued something else. And the right people respond to it, so I just stay at it.

LA has been your home your whole life. Did it ever occur to you to live anywhere else?

It’s the only home I know. I know people like to rip LA apart. There are great people here. There are great people everywhere. You can find good people wherever you go.

Any words that you live by?

Patience. Copyright ©2012  All rights reserved. Posted: December 6. 2012. 

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