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Exclusive: Soul Asylum Plot New Studio Album

First new LP since 2006 from veteran alt rockers should arrive later this year

March 4, 2011 8:20 AM ET
Exclusive: Soul Asylum Plot New Studio Album
Barry Brecheisen/WireImage

Soul Asylum has performed consistently in the last few years, but the group hasn't issued a new studio album since 2006's The Silver Lining. That should change this year, as the band – which features longtime members Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy, alongside bassist Tommy Stinson and drummer Michael Bland – say they're getting ready to release their still-untitled 10th studio album.

"I just sent some music out to the rest of the guys," Pirner tells Rolling Stone. "I'm waiting to hear back. At that point, we'll go about finishing up." Song titles for some of the completed tracks include "Gravity," "Into the Light" and "The Streets." And according to Pirner, the completed album should arrive "within the next six months."

The album will likely also include contributions from sometime fill-in bassist Pete Donnelly (who is a multi-instrumentalist and plays with Soul Asylum when Stinson's gig with Guns N' Roses heats up from time to time), and a label should be announced shortly.

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"It doesn't really sound like our old records, and it sort of sounds like hopefully what our next record is supposed to sound like," says Pirner. "The thing that is different is that I've built a little room here in New Orleans, where I've been recording all the vocals in my backyard, and that's a little bit different."

The new set up fits Pirner just fine. "You become more independent in a way that allows you the time and space to do what you need to do without the pressure of using somebody else's money to do it. And I like that scenario, even though I think people have a tendency to worry that I'm just going to disappear and never come back. I'm trying to finish it on my own terms and then put it out."

Tour plans will be decided once the album is released. "The tour model that we grew up on is not so much the model that we have these days, because the tour model we used to have is just shit," Pirner says. "It was terrible. If you look at some of the ways we used to drive around the country, I don't think we could pay for the gas to do it anymore. I don't miss that at all. We don't go out for three months at a time anymore...at least until we put a record out."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

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This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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