The Airborne Toxic Event frontman Mikel Jollett tells Billboard.com that "there are a lot of big ideas" on the indie rock group's sophomore album, "All At Once," and the band has decided to create some ambitious visuals to match the new record. Before the album is released next Tuesday (Apr. 26), the group has been previewing its latest opus with "The Bombastic," a weekly video series in which it strips down each new song using one-shot, one-take acoustic performances.
In this week's installment, premiering on Billboard.com, the Los Angeles quintet performs the emotional new track "Half of Something Else" alongside the Calder Quartet -- on a moving carousel on the Santa Monica pier. Check out the Jon Danovic-directed clip below:
The Airborne Toxic Event broke out in 2008 with its self-titled debut, which has sold 208,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and spawned the hit single "Sometime Around Midnight," which peaked at No. 4 on the Alternative Songs chart. The success of ATE's debut disc led to over two solid years of touring, and when Jollett returned, the group's main songwriter had to address some serious issues.
"I got back from the road after two and a half years, and I had lost four family members [in that time]," says Jollett. "It felt like a blur. I just locked myself in a room and wrote ... This record is about the idea that life changes incrementally. There are songs about my parents, and songs about the war. It grapples with a lot of questions."
After Jollett, guitarist-keyboardist Steve Chen, bassist Noah Harmon, multi-instrumentalist Anna Bulbrook and drummer Daren Taylor recorded "All At Once" in Los Angeles last fall, the group returned to radio earlier this year with lead single "Changing," which rises to No. 27 on this week's Rock Songs chart. Upon wrapping a string of five London shows this Friday, the Airborne Toxic Event will play "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Apr. 26 and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" two nights later before kicking off a North American tour in Philadelphia on May 7.
The biggest difference between the press run for this album and the last? "We weren't sure if anyone would ever hear the last record," admits Jollett, who says that the group made "The Airborne Toxic Event" at a friend's house. "When you know you're gonna have an audience, the pressure doesn't feel as great."