Eels Get Tangled In Strings On Live CD/DVD

The Eels' next release will not be a studio set, but rather a new live recording, "Eels With Strings: Live at Town Hall."

The Eels' next release will not be a studio set, but rather a new live recording, "Eels With Strings: Live at Town Hall." Taped June 30 at the New York venue while touring in support of the album "Blinking Lights and Other Revelations," the Vagrant CD and Image Entertainment DVD is due Feb. 21 via Vagrant.

"Everyone was telling me we should do the show that was the night before, in Boston," Eels leader E tells Billboard.com. "But that never had the same ring to it as 'Town Hall.' But then I got there, and you start looking at all the plaques on the walls of everyone who's played there, and that's a mistake. My advice to any artist playing the Town Hall for the first time: don't walk around the halls during soundcheck and look at all the people that have been on that stage. Because then you get really nervous."

Regardless of his anxiety, E gives the project his full stamp of approval. "It was one of those great situations where usually, you always seem to record and film the wrong night," he says. "But we felt like we got lucky on that night, because we feel like it was a really good night for us. There's that kind of indescribable element to a good night on stage -- there's no way to really put it into words."

Explaining the logic behind different track lists for the CD and DVD, E says, "I wanted [the CD] to stand on its own as an album, and I wasn't concerned with it being a document of the evening, so much. At one point, I even tried to get rid of all the applause. There's also songs that I thought worked out on the CD version that we didn't really need in the film, because there's just so much in the film already. Some of the ones that weren't used in either could possibly be used as bonus tracks for whatever purposes."

Sadly, the group couldn't get its cover of Prince's "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" cleared in time. "You can actually see us play it in the film, but you can't hear us," E says. "At the last minute, [Eels guitarist] the Chet and I went in and had to do a voiceover commentary on the track, so you can't hear the song. But the sound recording of that we can still use for something, so maybe that'll still show up somewhere."

E has already begun work on a new batch of tunes, but it could be several years before they're heard. "I'm about halfway through something I started when I was done with the 'Blinking Lights' album, and before the 'With Strings' tour," he says. "But I'm thinking about putting it on the shelf, starting something else and coming back to this one. I think the one that I've been working on should be the album after the next one. What it's about is something whose time hasn't come yet, in terms of what I'm trying to say as an artist."

Look for the Eels to return to New York on Feb. 1 for the Joni Mitchell tribute concert first reported here yesterday (Dec. 14). "When I first moved to Los Angeles from Virginia, 15 years ago, one of the first people I met was Joni Mitchell, oddly, at a nightclub," E says. "I went up to her, because she was one of the first famous people I'd seen in the flesh, and she was extremely nice to me, and talked to me all night. I haven't forgotten that, so now it's payback time."