The Airborne Toxic Event's Mikel Jollett Talks Touring, Chain-Smoking and Bottles of Scotch
As the front man for L.A.'s The Airborne Toxic Event, he's known for his serious-man's lyrics and moody, oft-brooding subject matter. The heaviness of his lyrics have roots in reality, though.
In his former life, Jollett was a writer and novelist, taking the leap into musical mastermind only after a series of life fuck-yous hit him one after the other. From learning of his mom's cancer diagnosis to facing his own health crisis in the same week -- a diagnosis of an immune disorder that sparked a struggle with alopecia and vitiligo, coupled with the demise of a relationship -- Jollett found himself facing one struggle after another, and feeling totally alone during the process.
He learned to confront those struggles in the form of his lyrical musings; through his music, he has created a world in which he confronts the demons head-on, set to the tune of Airborne's symphonic melodies and wicked violas.
Fortunately for us, the sparkling synth, orchestral aspects, and echoing guitars that play among the band's melodramatic, angsty anthems keeps the seriousness of the subject matter from jumping ship into uber-depressing territory. Their unique collaboration of upbeat instrumentation laced in with Jollet's bitter crooning leaves listeners feeling like they've peeked into a collection of thoughtful poetry rather than a mad man's cynical rants, no matter how heavy the subject matter may be.
"When you write songs, you sit down and communicate, and present your struggle," says Jollet. "You write because you feel weird about yourself, and then you write and feel less strange, and you're not so weird to yourself."
'I've had that experience," he continues. "Hearing an album or a song and going, 'Wait -- what the fuck? Someone else knows what it's like to feel like that?' It's all kind of this big absurd thing, the tragedies in real life that have been shared by so many people."