Jeff Rosenstock: "I’ve never been the kind of person to shy away from the fact that I fuck up"
Surprise! Jeff Rosenstock has started 2018 by dropping a brand new album.
Published: 10:24 am, February 20, 2018
What’s the best way to guarantee having one of the best albums of the year? Well, if you’re punk hero Jeff Rosenstock you surprise drop your new record on New Year’s Day when everyone is tired, hungover and sprawled out on the sofa, providing an instant shot in the arm to kick off the new year with a bang.
Yep, Jeff’s new album ‘Post’ was a welcome surprise, especially following so soon after 2016’s killer ‘Worry’. Jeff Rosenstock though is not a man who’s content to wait a while. “It could have been the first bad record of the year!” laughs the ever-modest Jeff, before describing the thought process behind the album’s release. “For me, mostly, the record felt like a New Year’s Day record. When I was working on it, once it all started coming together, it was just like, ‘Yeah, it’d be sick if the first day of the year, in the haze, this is what happens.’ Once I’d started thinking about that more and more it started appealing to me. I figured it would be fun if we did that for this too and did it on New Year’s Day where nobody’s doing anything. It’s like, yeah, cool, just like put the record out and have the record be there that day first thing in the morning when nobody’s really expecting it. I know that if I liked a band and that happened, I would be like, ‘Ooohhh shiiiitt!’”
Perhaps that’s why Jeff Rosenstock is loved so much. He’s one of us. He knows exactly why music can be so thrilling, invigorating and heartbreaking. He’s a man who lives for his passion. Always busy creating and feverishly playing shows he has a project constantly on the go. As well as recording and releasing ‘Post’, he’s also currently scoring a Cartoon Network TV show. ‘Post’ came about so quickly that it seemed like madness to wait. A character like Jeff needs to be constantly moving; it’s what he thrives on. “I was writing this record, and it just seemed like, ‘I want to put this record out fucking now’,” exclaims Jeff with typical exuberance. “I wanted to put this record out like, right when it was done. It was just a matter of, okay, it doesn’t make sense to wait until the summer of next year to have a break in my schedule. It was like, fuck that, let’s just put it out.”
Jeff doesn’t stick to a typical schedule. The standard album cycle is alien to him. He’s always writing and, indeed, many of the songs on ‘Post’ pre-date ‘Worry’. They’re just songs, and then they morph into a record. Gradually, though, a theme and impetus for the songs on ‘Post’ began to develop. “There are definitely themes,” explains Jeff. “The obvious one is the feeling after the event that occurred here at the end of the year, after the election and all that, you know what I mean? Feeling like, ‘Oh fuck’. That something big and terrible just happened, because something big and terrible did happen. Trying to process the fall out of that and trying to process what do I do? And it seems like there’s nothing I can do.”
It’s a feeling that a lot of people can relate to, of hopelessness and helplessness. “That’s something that I feel at a lot of points in my life, but it was definitely a unique feeling to feel this mass... I don’t know, just ugh. This mass terror, basically. Just bad vibes amongst everybody.” When he was on tour in the months following Donald Trump’s election win, and the ensuing horror of his presidency became a reality, it was a difficult time. “I think that less than trying to go ‘Donald Trump is bad!’ like fucking everybody knows that Donald Trump is bad news,” says Jeff. “I think more the things that spoke to me was that feeling for the month after on tour and meeting people. The only time they went out in the last week was to go to our show, and me just feeling like, ‘Fuck, I don’t want to be here I want to be in bed right now. I don’t want to be out in this shitty world’, you know? Going to protests and seeing the other side of it, and the other side just being mean and fucked up and racist and proud of it. That feeling of like, ‘Ugh!’ this is what I’m in. I don’t think I was trying to specifically write about, ‘Hey, these people are doing this’. Rather, using that as a colour to paint what it’s like to be alive right now for my friends and me, and the people who I’ve met over the last year and a half.”
These are definitely confused times. Nobody quite knows how to react and that confusion comes across in ‘Post’. A different approach is required. ‘Post’ might not be shouting from the rooftops as a protest record, but there’s an underlying spirit of action and a voice that can only get louder. “I know that I talk to friends of mine who just think that everything’s fucked and that shit bums me out,” says Jeff. “Whenever I talk to friends who say that I just yell at ‘em. Like dude, how are you giving up already? It’s been a year, and we haven’t done anything, we haven’t even tried yet. Like maybe we should try now, you know what I mean? I didn’t write a record to be like, ‘Alright I’m just gonna tell people to get out in the streets!’ but in my heart I’m like, ‘Hey people, get out in the streets,’ and that comes through in the songs.”
Perhaps inspiration can be taken from last year’s UK general election. The Tories weren’t quite dethroned but were certainly mortally wounded. Jeff was here around that time and felt the sense of change as the result came through. “People were like; there was like no fucking way it was gonna happen. That’s kind of what I think about here now. I was in Manchester talking to my buddies, and they were like, ‘Oh yeah there’s no fucking way, we’re so fucked’, and then months later it was stolen away from Theresa May. She sucks.”
It’s things like this that give Jeff Rosenstock and the scene he represents something to believe in. “I truly do feel like there are more good people than evil people, and I feel like there are more smart people than completely stupid people. And I feel like the problem is a lot of the time evil people who are stupid run their mouths off and do stupid evil shit. Good smart people a lot of the time are smart enough to know that they don’t know anything, so they try and assess the situation and try and hear all angles and unfortunately sometimes that’s perceived as quietness and I think that that election over there kind of proved it. Just because it doesn’t seem like you’re being bombarded by that kind of stuff every day doesn’t mean that there are not more people on that side.”
That’s the thing about Jeff Rosenstock; he’s a deeper thinker than you might imagine. He’s switched on and aware of his flaws and his good points. “I’ve always been doing my thing,” he says. “I think people who have been following me for a while know that. I’ve never been the kind of person to shy away from the fact that I fuck up and I make mistakes, and I do things wrong occasionally. And I’ve also never shied away from being the kind of person who admits what I do and can try and grow and change from it.”
For Jeff, life goes on rapidly, and he’s already planning for the future. “The songs that I’ve written for the next record so far kind of sound like 90s Bay Area pop punk.” Who knows what they might morph into, though, and what Jeff has up his sleeve. One thing’s for sure; it will be very Jeff Rosenstock. “In my mind, I always want to make an ELO record but in my life and everything that I do I’ve always got a guitar in my hand, and I’m always moving fast, so there’s a bit of a dichotomy there.”
Jeff Rosenstock’s album ‘POST-’ is out now. Taken from the March issue of Upset - order your copy below.