In more than 25 years together, Alkaline Trio has created their own little universe in their songs, one that is a bit dark, a bit brooding, and always just a few short steps away from armageddon. Their music has been a reliable black mirrorof reality. And now, as the band releases their monumental tenth album, Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs, the real world looks more like an Alkaline Trio song than ever before—midway through a global meltdown and 90 seconds to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.“A lot of the stuff that was inspiring me on this record was this apocalypse culture that we live in,” says guitarist Matt Skiba. “Without sounding trite, it’s the way that we get our information now through social media. There’s always been good and there’s always been horror, but it feels like the horror hits our doorsteps much quicker these days. It gives people the feeling that things are escalating horribly.”“It’s tough all around right now,” adds bassist Dan Andriano. “We can’t do drugs anymore because they’ll kill you. We can’t go anywhere safely because people are shooting places up. It’s dark and it’s a bummer.”It’s been five years since the beloved punk stalwarts have released an album, and to commemorate hitting the big ten milestone, they gone back to basics on Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs, stripping their sound down to the bare essentials of the sonic identity that endeared them to a generation of punk fans. To capture the purest essence of their sound, they enlisted Grammy-winning producer Cameron Webb and spent several weeks holed up at Studio 606 in Northridge, California, the private recording space owned by Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters.“We were really aware of the fact that we were in Dave Grohl’s studio,” says Andriano. “It’s engineered for loud, live rock music, so we were thinking a lot about our favorite three-pieces—Nirvana and the Police and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, just awesome bands who wrote records that made them sound special without having tons of stuff layered all over them.”Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs flexes the beloved trademarks of Alkaline Trio’s songwriting—back-and-forth vocal dueling between Skiba and Andriano, catchy anthemic choruses, and cleverly mischievous lyricism that takes ordinary turns of phrase and delivers them with a macabre twist. On the title track, Skiba invokes imagery of nightmares, walking like a zombie, and sleeping like the undead. On the raging “Break,” he makes references to splashing around in blood and smiling at the end of time. The album isalso peppered with imagery of mass shootings and tainted narcotics. A dark record for a dark time.But while there are a lot of familiar elements onBlood, Hair, and Eyeballs, the band pushed themselves to explore new territories that might surprise even longtime fans. “We didn’t really see a point in trying to rewrite an old record or recapture something we’d already done. That’s not what we were trying to do with this one,” says Andriano.
The record also marks the end of an era for Alkaline Trio. It was the final album recorded with longtime member Derek Grant, who departed after its completion and was replaced by veteran drummer Atom Willard (Against Me!, Rocket from the Crypt). “Playing with Atom is so inspiring,” says Andriano. “His motor is unparalleled.”With more than two decades and ten records under their belts, Alkaline Trio’s legacy in the rock canon, as well as their influence on their genre, is undeniable. “I get sentimental about numbers. I’m OCD about them, in fact,” says Skiba. “To be doing this for as long as we have, and for how many times people have told me that our band has influenced them, it’s more surreal than anything. All I can do is think about it with gratitude.” Andriano is more practical about the band’s impact, looking more towards the future than the past. “I haven’t really thought about our legacy, because I don’t want it to be done,” he says. “I still feel like there’s new realms to take this. I love what we’ve built so far, but it’s yet to be seen where we end up.”