A month before alternative rockers Soul Asylum entered the studio to work on their first album since 1998’s Candy From a Stranger, bassist Karl Mueller was diagnosed with cancer. He died in June, shortly after the album, Crazy Mixed Up World, wrapped. The record will be released in March.
The thirteen tracks of poignant musings and trademark messy guitar feature Mueller’s last recordings. “After the album was finished, Karl called me up and said he really liked it,” says frontman Dave Pirner. “That was all I needed to hear.”
Sonically, the new tracks are reminiscent of the band’s rough-hewn hits, like 1992’s “Runaway Train.” New dad Pirner wrote the title track while expecting his first child. “I was anticipating having a kid,” says Pirner. “I guess I was exploring what I might say to him when he’s fifteen. It’s an exaggerated version of everything that really pisses me off right now with this administration.” And the track “Slowly Rising,” Pirner says, “is a really weird song that’s got a jingle-jangle chorus and a brutal verse that I think is kind of funny. It’s kind of like sour candy or something.”
Pirner, who spent the past six years splitting his time between Minneapolis and New Orleans (his home was devastated by Hurricane Katrina), says that life in the Big Easy affected the way he wrote music. “I found myself falling in love with instrumental music again, listening to all these great jazz players,” he says. “I sort of had to go back to the drawing board and really listen to music — really enjoy it all over again.”