On February 14th, I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Alkaline Trio guitarist and vocalist, Matt Skiba, about his band's new single, "I Wanna Be A Warhol," and a little bit about the new album it's on - My Shame Is True. I can safely say that the new LP is the best Trio album in almost a decade and will have fans old and new pumping their fists in unison. This spring, the band will be touring with Bayside and Off With Their Heads (dates here), so make sure you check that out. You can also follow Matt on Twitter here and the band here.
The lyric video is very visually pleasing - it has a 60s vibe to it, which I'd assume relates to the Warhol theme of the lyrics. What was the inspiration behind this type of imagery in the video?
Well there were a lot of influences when you make a video. I guess Warhol would be the inspiration for that video. Initially, I thought the idea of listening to Iggy Popís The Idiot and I was thinking about the timelessness of that record and the timelessness of any great art. A Warhol is something, if youíre a fan or a huge admirer of, to be something that has all this personality and energy. It is what it is. You canít change it. So, thinking of myself as something like that with a specific person that I had in mind, it wasnít about being worshipped by the world or anything. Itís just being the apple of someoneís eye and have it be permanent and without turmoil.
I hear a little bit of keys or synth throughout the song, and it sounds fantastic. Who contributed that sound and do we hear more of it throughout the new album?
You know, Iím not sure who played that part. I know I didnít. But everyone that worked on the record at Blasting Room. We were all very instrumental Ė figuratively and literally to the record. Bill Stevenson are both very great musicians and great musical minds and there were times they would add stuff to the record, you know Bill may have played that or Jason may have played that. I donít know, I never asked. I like it too.
Naturally, the song has that Trio vibe to it without sounding recycled. How do you manage to keep your song ideas fresh? What was your mindset when writing this song?
I think that the things that inspired me is other music. I kind of went back, I was listening to The Idiot, for instance, when I hiked. That was like my hiking record. And it just sort of formulated from there and my mindset was just Ė I kind of wrote the song while I was hiking and I came back and just started writing it down. We all like those magic three chords and weíre influenced by the music that we love.
I noticed that Bill Stevenson produced the new album. I think heís one of the greatest producers of our time. This is the first time youíve recorded with him, no? What was it like working with him?
It was great. We have been doing this for, you know, quite a while now. We always with every album get more and more excited to go in. Weíre all very much in love with being in the studio. But weíre also very much in love with efficiency. It was really amazing. Bill has always been a hero of mine since before we were friends Ė one of the first tours we did as Alkaline Trio was with All. Itís crazy working with this hero of mine. It felt right to be there, there definitely were kind of ďholy shitĒ moments in the studio when Iím talking to Bill or weíre like, we get in this groove. When youíre recording youíre not Ė at least Iím not thinking about myself at all. Iím trying to think outside myself, itís very transcendent. And me and Bill would be in the same vibe rocking out to something and Iím just like ďfuck! Iím making a record with Bill Stevenson!Ē I mean, I must be doing something right. It was really an honor. Jason Livermore too, we didnít really know before but he was very integral to the way the record sounds and he had a lot of really great ideas. It was just an amazing experience.
I saw a tweet about Milla Jovovich making a cameo in an upcoming video. How did that come about?
Through our friendship Ė Milla and I have been friends for several years now and we met through Danny (Lohner) who used to be in Nine Inch Nails and Alkaline Trio did some work with him and then we became friends. Danny is friends with Milla from way back when, theyíre like brother and sister and he introduced us. We just had this creative chemistry and forged a really strong friendship. Because, you know when I was talking about getting outside yourself and sheís the same way. Sheís Milla Fucking Jovovich Ė sheís so disarming and sheís a rad fucking person that sheís very magnetic in so many ways. So yeah, Iíve been jamming with her and helping her with her music and stuff. And then I called her up and said ďdo you want to do this thing with meĒ and she said absolutely, so it was as simple as that. (Editor's Note: Check out the video starring Milla Jovovich here.)
No Alkaline Trio album sounds the same. Crimson took on that grandiose rock sound, Agony and Irony had that little 80s vibe to it. What stands out most about the new record compared to past records?
I donít know how it stands out. I think that itís more of.... rather than the album being thematic, each song is thematic, you know, in a Ramones kind of way. Iím not saying it is the Ramones but it was a huge influence on this record. Going in with Bill and his pop sensibilities for punk rock and song writing. Each song took on its own shape. Itís more of a grouping of songs. I mean, itís an album and I think itís cohesive, but each song is a short story. So thatís something we never really done before and going in with Bill Ė I love the Descendants and I blast it in my car all the time, but especially going in there I was just really listening to a lot of Billís songs that he wrote that were my favorites and I think that had a pretty huge influence on the record.
As you gear up for the release of My Shame is True, what part are you most excited about?
Iím excited to play the record for people and to travel.
Are you still meditating a lot?
I am, yeah. Itís something thatís sort of become like water or food. Itís just something I canít go without. It helps to keep me tethered. Sometimes, you know, I fall off but I just back up again and get back into the groove. On my worst day, Iím always at it for hours. Itís pretty integral to my being, itís just like something that I do Ė itís like eating food.
And this is something that's for the creative process, right?
Absolutely itís for the creative process. It opens up every door in your mind. It makes you very self-aware and very aware of everything around you. I have like werewolf hearing and vision. I donít have a werewolf memory so much but itís better than before I started meditating. Iím pretty all over the place in my mind so it helps to sharpen the right tools Ė the main one being songwriting.
Iím very happy to hear that things are going well for you and the band and the AP.net community is very excited to hear the new record in April. Anything you'd like to add about the song or upcoming album?
If anyone reading this has a record store left in your town Ė go use it. You donít even have to buy our record. Just go buy records.
Big thank you to Matt for taking the time to speak with us. Alkaline Trio's new album, My Shame Is True, hits stores on April 2nd. Pre-order it here.