Sturgill Simpson says his new album is already finished, but don’t look for it in record stores anytime soon. According to a new interview in GQ, the Metamodern man plans on keeping the music close to his chest while he enjoys some downtime — and takes a breath before yet another press and touring cycle.
“What’s next is already finished,” Simpson told GQ. “I don’t want to put it out just yet, because I know I’m just going to have to turn around and do what I just did all over again. Quite honestly, I need about six months at home with my family.”
Indeed, Simpson’s been touring since the release of Metamodern Sounds in Country Music in 2014 — including scores of sold-out shows and a three-night run at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. He’s often admitted to having music in the works with producer Dave Cobb, but isn’t the type of artist to try out new songs on the road: he’s yet to play anything live that wasn’t a cover or didn’t appear on his past two records. Turns out, even his band has to embrace that sort of mystery in the studio.
“The art is what can’t be put on a timeline,” Simpson said. “You can’t say, ‘Well, I’m going to make a record in May because that’s when the producer has a window.’ So just recording and getting things out is paramount for me. That has to be spontaneous. You’re gonna bottle this time capsule. You don’t want the band to even know the songs.”
It was the same approach that guided Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, recorded in four days at Cobb’s Nashville studio. “Sturgill would show up with a song idea and we’d make it into something all together,” Cobb told Rolling Stone Country about the process back in 2014, admitting they’d already started working on the next record. “We’re already doing something totally different and it will probably make a lot of people mad.”
The one hint Simpson did divulge to GQ is that, like Metamodern‘s focus on a psychedelic, psilocybin love trip inspired by deep thinkers like philosopher Seth Abramson, the next album will also have a consistent concept thread.
“All I’m really interested in musically is trying to make concept albums,” Simpson said. “Serving a larger sum than the parts. I just can’t sit down and write three verses and a chorus and a bridge anymore. It just don’t find it inspiring.”