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The Wallflowers reboot and ready for return

The Wallflowers play Smith's Olde Bar on Monday. Photo: Courtesy Press Here Publicity

The Wallflowers play Smith's Olde Bar on Monday. Photo: Courtesy Press Here Publicity

There was a time when The Wallflowers blanketed the airwaves and its frontman, the angular Jakob Dylan, became a reluctant heartthrob in the process.

But that was almost two decades ago, when the band’s agreeable roots rock songs “6th Avenue Heartache,” “One Headlight” and “The Distance” helped define the sound of the mid-‘90s while the album that spawned them, 1996’s “Bringing Down the Horse,” sold more than 4 million copies.

The Wallflowers celebrated a few minor hits into the aughts, but later in the decade went on hiatus, allowing Dylan to release two solo albums (“Seeing Things” and “Women and Country”).

On Oct. 9, the band returns to the land of new music with “Glad All Over,” a robust collection of 11 tunes led by the funky single “Reboot the Mission,” featuring a guest slot from former Clash guitarist Mick Jones, and offering a Rolling Stones-like detour (“Misfits and Lovers”) and the rootsy pop of “Love is a Country.”

Though the Wallflowers – Dylan and originals Greg Richling (bass) and Rami Jaffee (keyboards), plus Stuart Mathis (guitar) and Jack Irons (drums) – will embark on a two-month theater tour starting Oct. 6 in San Antonio, Texas, the guys are playing some smaller dates first, including Monday at Smith’s Olde Bar.

“We’re just piecing something together to get us up in front of people, keeping it simple,” Dylan said last week from Los Angeles. “We’re prepared to do both [clubs and theaters]. If you’re a worthwhile group, you should be able to play well on the back of a pickup truck.”

Dylan isn’t the most loquacious type, answering questions politely, but not, it seems, naturally prone to elaboration.

He notes that the timing of the comeback – it’s not a reunion since The Wallflowers never broke up – was tricky because none of the members thought the hiatus would last as long as it did.

“But [The Wallflowers] means the most to all of us,” Dylan said.

He’s also pleased with this lineup, calling it “the strongest” and praises drummer Irons, known for his work with Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers for “giving new life to the group” thanks to his versatility.

When asked if the title of the new album holds any particular meaning, Dylan chuckled softly.

“You’ve gotta have a title, right? I would like to give you a nice rundown of what it truly means, but it just felt right,” he said, explaining that he makes a list of possible names during recording and whittles the list as the process continues.

As for working with Jones on “Reboot,” Dylan said he had recently seen the guitarist playing with Big Audio Dynamite and was reminded of Jones’ presence.

“What he brings to anything – his guitar tone, his voice, they’re incomparable to everything else,” Dylan said. “I occasionally reach out to people like that, but I don’t want to put anyone in an awkward position. I gave him every opportunity to back out, but he was totally into it.”

After The Wallflowers’ fall jaunt, Dylan hopes the new album will be enough of a success to land them back on the road for another round of dates.

He’s also well aware that the radio landscape of today is unrecognizable compared to 1995 and harbors no illusions.

“The radio is good. I grew up listening to it and I still find [new] music on there. It’s not what it was, but what is? I’m not too hung up on [whether we get played],” he said. “The goal used to be to get on the radio and now the Internet is necessary to getting our music out. We’re doing the best we can.”

The Wallflowers perform with Mason Reed at 8 p.m. Monday. $25. Smith’s Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 1-877-725-8849, www.ticketalternative.com.

6 comments Add your comment

coastal kid

September 23rd, 2012
8:11 pm

Thanks for the update, Melissa.

Dylan’s boy done good.

BehindEnemyLines

September 23rd, 2012
9:50 pm

The radio landscape changes are probably fairly noted, but it seems what changed most was musical taste. The dramatic sales decline between albums 2 and 3, and then again between 3 and 4 seems to indicate that the audience simply grew weary of the band/its sound … and that isn’t really radio’s fault.

Pete

September 24th, 2012
9:24 am

BehindEnemyLines, you don’t think that some of the decline in popularity of this band is the fault of radio?

Around the time of the 3rd CD, radio got hung up on the flavor of the month boy bands like Backdoor Boys and N-Stink. Real bands like the Wallflowers were no long given any exposure, especially on MTV. As MTV was all boy bands and no talent gangsta thug rappers.

I don’t think the audience grew weary of the band and it’s sound, I believe their popularity declined because they no longer had the exposure they deserved. The “Breach” & “Red Letter Days” CD’s were excellent and probably would have sold many more copies had the band actually received support from radio & MTV as when “Bringing Down the Horse” was released.

Edward

September 24th, 2012
9:43 am

If it isn’t autotuned and released along with a secret sextape, people now will pay no attention. Real talent, like Dylan and others, goes unnoticed.

Edy

September 24th, 2012
3:09 pm

Totally agree with Edward and Pete, I’ll buy their new album because they always made ​high quality music and it should be supported in addition to being one of the best rock band alive. Keep on rockin’ guys we need your music

[...] at the super-intimate Smith’s, the quintet unveiled about half of the songs from that record, a robust return that ranges from the uncharacteristic disco-funk of first single “Reboot the Mission” to the [...]