Maranda Pleasant: What is love to you?

Adam Duritz: I feel like I’ve been in love, but I have stood aside from it over and over again in my life. It’s all you want, but it’s terrifying. Closeness to another person is like a fear of falling off a building to me. It’s really, like, physically painful, and it’s a brand of crazy I don’t appreciate having. You want to embrace, but I can’t figure out how to hold on to it.

MP: It’s the thing your soul longs for the most, but it’s the thing that’s the most terrifying.

AD: I think it has to do with the fact that it’s hard to look at yourself and see the failures, the flaws, and everything that’s wrong and sort of accept it, and when someone loves you, they start to do that. They start to say, “Hey, I see you and I understand you entirely,” but that means they see all that shit too, all that dirt that you don’t want to look at. Then it either repulses them—and you can have a serious fear of that—or they accept it. But then you have to look at it because they’re seeing you for real, and that kind of forces you to see you for real, and that’s braver than I am a lot of the time.

I’m really good in a crisis, because I don’t panic. I’m really good in pain. I snapped my leg in half on stage and played a whole show. But I can’t sit there with someone that loves me. Bravery is what you can do in the face of things that hurt and scare you, but you do it anyway. If you want to really love someone, you’ve got to let go and loosen up and just care. I’m so busy trying to breathe through the pain that I’m breathing through the pain of being with people, and that is no way to spend a life. Eventually, they’ll just go away, because you will make them sad. That’s something I’ve proven quite adept at doing over the years.

MP: I want to talk about your new record, Somewhere Under Wonderland. Every time you make an album, it’s like you just open your heart and let it bleed out and we can all bleed with you.

AD: It’s a very different record to me than a lot of our other records. The first song on the record, Palisades Park, is about these two kids growing up in New York in the ’60s and ’70s. They discover punk music, and they discover dressing up in women’s clothes because it’s cool and different, and they experiment with a bunch of drugs and stuff. It kind of enabled me to get outside of just my life. I think I’d been limiting myself in some ways just writing in first person all the time.

I took it to a friend of mine who’s a really great songwriter. I told him that I was worried that people would find it less personal. He said, “I kind of feel like you spent the last twenty years writing this epic tragedy about what it’s like to be crazy and have mental illness f—k up your whole life, but that’s not all you are. This record is like spending a couple of hours in your head. For me, this is more you.”



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