Reality often provides marvelous scenarios that outstrip fantasy. Former Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli had successfully began a “solo” career fronting The Twilight Singers when tragedy befell his second album, even though an integral band member wasn’t involved.
“What was once my favorite thing to do became kind of a drag,” he says. “So I quit for a couple years.” Turns out his partner in crime, film director Ted Demme, would provide too detailed a mirror. “I made a record and then my friend died. My life was completely different the second I heard about him dying; he died very suddenly. I just . . . I couldn’t in good conscience put out the record that I had. There’s nothing wrong with the record; it will come out someday [and did as Greg Dulli’s Amber Headlights]. It wouldn’t have represented who I was at that time. His death crushed me. I had to make sense of what it meant and what he meant to me. So, putting out a record and going on tour with something about which had happened before he died, it didn’t make any sense. It was not honorable.”
But, as is becoming a rather robust sign of the digital times, the tracks were employable and far from unwieldy. Send off a zip file and whoosh, album ready. “I started 4-tracking when I was a teenager,” Dulli says. “It’s no different now, it’s just on a computer. When I’m ready for sure, I go in and get a fat tape sound for the bass and drums ’cause I don’t want ’em all digital. I like the warmer feel. So, when I do the definitive bass and drums I go into a real studio. But at that point I’ve got it all mapped out and it’s just, it’s easy to lay it down and get the warmth.
“[Tracks for Amber Headlights] were done and if they were unfinished that would have been one thing. But they were finished so, when something’s finished it’s not going to creep back because it’s done.”