On Friday, Jack Antonoff released his second album as Bleachers. You might remember him from such things as Fun., the band in which he played lead guitar and won a Grammy with for the very 2011 single, We Are Young; being Lena Dunham's long term life partner; and writing and producing for all of your favourite pop stars. On Saturday, Jack performed with his best friend Lorde -- whose long awaited second album, Melodrama he co-wrote and produced -- at New York's Governors Ball in NYC. He's having a good week.
As a follow up to 2014's 80s-influenced Strange Desire with features from Grimes and Yoko Ono, Gone Now is totally anthemic. Featuring spoken word samples (there's one from his missus), sax solos, and unmentioned guest vocals from Lorde and Carly Rae Jepsen, it'll soundtrack a sunny day off quite nicely thank you. He took his time with it, he says, because, "You deserve my best. I deserve my best. It's kind of all we have." Written from the perspective of not being around any longer, the memorial picture artwork was created with a spot on the family fireplace in mind. "I trust you with my emotions," he shared on Twitter. "Sometimes I say more to you than I do to the people I love the most... it's complicated to share so much with so many people, but with Gone Now I've reached a point of no return."
Obsessed US fans will be pleased to hear that Jack is inviting them into his New Jersey childhood bedroom, which he has removed, reconstructed in a trailer, and will be driving around on his upcoming tour. The actual bed, posters, stickers, notebook, junk, everything is taken from the actual bedroom he resided in until the age of 27. He wrote a lot of the album within those four walls, you see, so fans are encouraged to sit on the bed and have a nosey through his life -- as we're essentially doing when listening to the record.
We like Jack because he's like a bonus Frog brother in cult 80s vampire flick The Lost Boys, come to save the day/industry with his determination and witty comments. Time for some more of them now as we meet for a quick chat about diaries, dreams, death, why shaking hands is the very worst thing you could do, and the deeply serious reason he no longer gets his hair cut.
Hi Jack. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through phases of wanting to be a baseball player and a skateboarder, then when I was about 10 I started really giving a shit about music and haven't really looked back since.
Do you keep a diary?
I keep notes in my phone but don't have a traditional diary. I used to. I miss it -- I was going through my old room recently and found my diary, it was so full of heartbreak and bad grammar.
Is that your emo album?
Right?! But I've got thousands and thousands of voice notes on my phone that're kind of like an abstract diary.
What's the last dream that you remember having?
I have very literal dreams. It's like, I'm sitting at home and everything's normal but something feels deeply wrong, there's this weird sense of anguish. And that's what occupies a lot of my therapy actually. I don't remember a specific one, but it was definitely one of those ones. I have flying dreams sometimes, those are nice, but I always find it hard to fly.
What would you most like to change about the world?
I'd like Trump to evaporate, but I guess that's an obvious one. I'd like people to be a little less quick to have opinions about people, because I think we're very quick to believe everything that we see and read. And I'd like people to remember that the people they're talking about are human beings.
I argue a lot with people. I'm somewhere between insufferable and passionate.
And what would you most like to change about yourself?
I'd like to be less short and quick. I'm just moving and moving and moving, sometimes I miss things.
When's the last time you had an argument?
I argue a lot with people. I'm somewhere between insufferable and passionate.
Do you meditate?
What would you look like if you were an alien?
You know how in pop culture, aliens seem to either look like carrots or pears. I don't think I'd be a tall gangly alien. I guess I'd be a round one that rolls around, like an orange. Not like a praying mantis type alien.
What's your greatest ambition?
To stay creative, because I'm very aware that people lose the pulse a lot. Also to be able to make records the way I do and also have a life outside it. I don't know if it's possible, but I think about it a lot.
I think you're doing it, aren't you?
Trying, but it's complicated.
Do you have any phobias?
Many. I have a lot of issues with germs and cleanliness, which are really just control issues. I don't like to touch too many things. I'm very specific. I don't think it's cute, it's not fun.
Door handles are the worst.
They're repulsive. Shaking hands is a bizarre tradition.
I didn't shake yours.
Thank you. I wouldn't have liked it. It's like, nice to meet you. Here's the worst I have to offer. This is everything I've touched all day. Every germ is here. You'd literally be better off touching any other part of the body but the hand.
What do you talk about when you get your hair cut?
I haven't got my hair cut in 15 years. I cut it myself. I'm very specific about how I like it, so I meticulously sit in front of a mirror and just know what the back feels like. Last time I got a haircut, not even kidding, my sister had died recently and my hairdresser said, "How's your sister?" and I so badly didn't want to deal with it so I told her she was fine. Then three days late, my mum went to the same hairdresser and she told her, and the woman was like, "Jack's insane." Maybe that's connected, now that I think about it.
That's definitely why you've not been back.
Yeah, it seemed really psycho at the time, but I just really don't like small talk.
What do you think happens when you die?
Nothing that we have suggested on Earth. I think we're supposed to know what we know, which is that there is a finite amount of time. Don't spend your time trying to forget that, I did that for a little bit and it made me crazy. I'm very jealous of other cultures that have a much healthier relationship with death and mortality. I'm a Jew, and we talk about death all the time but we're very stressed about it. I thought about that when I was making this album, just like, I have to document this time period, I have to say this piece. I don't think it's good to spend your time being upset about death, but I think it is good to spend your time being very aware of it. It informs everything we do.
Last time I got a haircut, not even kidding, my sister had died recently and my hairdresser said, 'How's your sister?' and I so badly didn't want to deal with it so I told her she was fine.
What would you like to be reincarnated as?
I guess it'd be fun to be a different gender, I'd try that.
If you could do anything without fear of repercussion what would you do?
I would do everything. I think to be a modern human being is to reel in urges that you have. Everything you see there's an urge to touch it or grab it or break it or whatever. I'd just do everything I felt like doing, constantly, which would be so fun but if I did that in reality it would be very damaging to a lot of people. I'd probably be in prison.
Keep on resisting.
I think that's what it means to be an adult.
If you could ask anyone a question, what and who would it be?
I have a lot of questions for Ivanka Trump.
What would you ask?
What the fuck is wrong with you? I have a lot of recording and writing questions that I'd love to ask Kate Bush. I have a lot of questions for Bjork also, she's such a brilliant producer. I love all of her records and I want to speak to the person that made them.
Somebody should get you two in conversation.
You do it.
I'll try. Can you describe yourself in four words?
Really trying my best.
Text Frankie Dunn