Like other Bruce Springsteen fans around the world -- albeit one with a little more inside information -- Steven Van Zandt is hearing all the scuttlebutt about a new album in early 2014 to follow next week's release of the single "High Hopes." But, he claims, there's no insider trading information to share. "We'll all find out what he has in mind about five minutes before he does it -- as usual," Van Zandt tells Billboard with a laugh.
"You can't really predict what's going to happen with things like that because Bruce is always recording," he adds. "He's always writing. He always has an album or two in his pocket, so that's not an unusual thing. We'll all find out what he has in mind about five minutes before he does it. But he's always writing and recording."
What is certain is that the E Street Band is going back out on the road, starting Jan. 26 in Cape Town, South Africa, and finishing March 2 in Auckland, New Zealand, after a run of Australian dates. But Van Zandt says it's more an extension of the "Wrecking Ball" World Tour than the start of something new. "That will sort of be the end, if you will, of the last tour, which will be two years exactly," he explains. "Then I'm not sure what Bruce'll do. We may go back on the road next, who knows. We could go back some time at the end of next year, but we haven't really talked about it or thought about it."
Which may be good for Van Zandt because he has plenty of other things to think about these days. Season two of "Lilyhammer," the TV series in which he plays a New York gangster in a witness protection program in Norway, started airing overseas in October and premieres on Netflix in December, with a third season slated to start filming in January. "Season two opened in Norway to a 51 share," Van Zandt crows, "which I must say -- half the country watched the show. It's quite amazing. I'm quite proud of season two because I did the whole score this time as well as the music supervision, so I'm really happy with this season. And then we've got season three to film, so that will take up the bulk of next year unless something goes seriously wrong."
Like, perhaps, The Fixer (his character) being bumped off?
"Oh, we're not quite ready to knock off the star of the show yet," Van Zandt says with a laugh. "That's a little bit radical. We'll probably keep him alive for another year or two. But I'm proud of the fact we are one of the very few TV shows you can watch that you really cannot predict. You can't predict where it's going. It's not formulaic in the least, and certainly not procedural."
Van Zandt is also busy overseeing the Rascals' reunion musical "Once Upon a Dream," a "hybrid show" that combines concert and theatrical concepts -- "It's like 'Jersey Boys' with the Four Seasons in it," Van Zandt says. He predicts that the show will morph into a "next phase" with actors portraying the Rascals on stage, while he also hopes the group will make some new music. Meanwhile, the show's success -- it returns for a second stint Broadway stint on Dec. 16 at the Marquis Theatre after a North American tour -- has Van Zandt thinking about his next move in the theater world.
"I had written half a Broadway show back i the mid-'90s, a musical version of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame,' but I never finished it. Now I'm considering going back and finishing it," he says. "It was really quite good. I was writing in a whole different style. I got about halfway through and just never quite finished it 'cause there was nobody there, really, to encourage it. The Disney cartoon movie thing came out around that time, as I recall, and people ran for the hills assuming that Disney was about to bring it to Broadway themselves, which never happened. And, frankly, mine was a lot better. So I may come back to that -- if I ever get five fucking minutes.
"I wish I was 10 different people. I honestly do. I would have so much fun doing different things. But you're limited by the time and who's financing your life -- unfortunately I usually end up financing my life, which is why I'm always broke!"