Since their formation in Cincinnati back in 1986, The Afghan Whigs — currently Greg Dulli (vocals, guitar), John Curley (bass), Patrick Keeler (drums), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and the band’s newest member, Blind Melon’s Christopher Thorn (guitar) — have a long-held reputation for refusing to play by convention: During the flannel and plaid of the early 90s grunge era, the members of The Afghan Whigs stood apart from their contemporaries for wearing suits and for being far more likely to slide into a soulful groove than a power chord-driven riff.
Reuniting after an 11 year hiatus in 2012, the JOVM mainstays released two critically applauded albums, 2014’s Do to the Beast and 2017’s In Spades, that found the band writing and recording music that furthered their story together, while pushing their sound in new directions.
The JOVM mainstays ninth album together — and first in five years — the Christopher Thorn co-produced How Do You Burn? is slated for a Friday release through Royal Cream/BMG. The album reportedly picks up on the sound and approach on the Whigs’ last two albums and sees them pushing it either further.
With the pandemic forcing Greg Dulli to abandon plans to support his critically applauded solo album Random Desire, the band began working on How Do You Burn? in September 2020 and continued over the next 14 months in remote recording sessions: Dulli, Thorn and Keeler in California; Curley, Jon Skibic (guitar) and Nelson laying down and engineering their own parts in Cincinnati, New Jersey and New Orleans respectively. “Once we got the system down, we started flying,” Greg Dulli says.
The album features guest spots from a collection of frequent and longtime collaborators including — the late Mark Lanegan, a collaborator of Dulli’s in The Twilight Singers and The Gutter Twins, as well as a close friend. Lanengan sung backup vocals on two album tracks. “It was Mark who named the album,” Dulli says in press notes. Susan Marshall, who contributed to 1998’s 1965 contributes vocals on album track “Catch A Colt.” Van Hunt,who toured with the band in 2012 and contributed to 2014’s Do to the Beast, contributes vocals on “Jyla” and “Take Me There.” And last but definitely not least, Marcy Mays, lead vocalist on Gentlemen‘s “My Curse” contributes vocals to “Domino and Jimmy,” a song that Dulli had specifically written with Mays in mind.
So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles:
- “I’ll Make You See God,” which is arguably one of the hardest and aggressive songs they’ve written and recorded in close to 30 years.
- “The Getaway,” a widescreen ballad that pairs Dulli’s whiskey and cigarette-like croon with a gorgeous string arrangement, twinkling keys and Dulli’s unerring knack for crafting earnest, lived-in material with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks.
How Do You Burn?’s third and latest single “A Line of Shots,” is a woozy yet anthemic ballad featuring heavily distorted and delay pedaled guitars, Greg Dulli’s imitable croon paired with a slow-burning groove and the band’s unerring knack for rousing, fist-up-in-the-air choruses. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “A Line of Shots” was so much of a crowd favorite during the JOVM mainstays’ May 2022 US tour that the band decided that the song needed its own moment in the sun.
Directed by Patrick Pierson, the accompanying video for “A Line of Shots” continues on some of the space-related imagery of “The Getaway” including the spacesuits and lights that are shot to look like stars and planets — but while set at a roller skating rink, punningly called The Cheap Skate. Fittingly, we also get some gorgeous young skate dancers of color doing their thing; but at its core is a nostalgic and swooning fever dream of youth and young love.
The band is about to embark on a second US tour that includes a September 15, 2022 stop at Brooklyn Steel. They’ll cap a big year with a return to European Union and UK. Tour dates are below.
U.S. FALL HEADLINE TOUR DATES
09/09 Minneapolis, MN Fine Line Music Café
09/10 Chicago, IL Metro
09/11 Cincinnati, OH Bogarts
09/12 Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall
09/14 Washington, D.C. 9:30 Club
09/15 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Steel
09/16 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
09/17 Boston, MA Paradise
09/20 Charlottesville, VA Jefferson Theatre
09/21 Asheville, NC The Grey Eagle
09/22 Birmingham, AL Saturn
09/24 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
09/28 Austin, TX Mohawk
09/29 Dallas, TX The Echo Lounge & Music Hall
10/01 Denver, CO Gothic Theatre
10/02 Salt Lake City, UT The Commonwealth Room
10/05 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
10/06 Seattle, WA The Showbox
10/08 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
10/11 Tucson, AZ 191 Toole
10/12 Los Angeles, CA Belasco Theatre
EUROPEAN FALL HEADLINE TOUR DATES
10/22 Madrid, Spain Teatro Barceló
10/23 Barcelona, Spain Apolo 2
10/25 Milan, Italy Santeria
10/26 Rome, Italy Largo
10/28 Munich, Germany Freiheitshalle
10/29 Zurich, Switzerland Bogen F
10/30 Luxembourg Den Atelier
11/01 Amsterdam, Netherlands Paradiso
11/02 Antwerp, Belgium De Roma
11/04 Manchester, UK Cathedral
11/05 Glasgow, UK St. Lukes
11/06 London, UK KOKO