"It's like you get hit in the head and something happens -- but it's a good concussion."
Sobule -- who came to prominence with "I Kissed a Girl" back in 1995 -- hasn't been entirely idle since 2009's California Years. While amassing more than 100 songs, she's also worked on stage musical such as Prozak and the Platypus and the in-progress one-woman show #Fuck7thGrade, which will use some of Nostalgia Kills' songs, as well as the Jill and Julia review with actress Julia Sweeney. The past couple of years, however, began yielding material that steered Sobule back into the studio for an album of her own.
"I had no label saying, 'We need to get this out right away!' or anything like that, which was a blessing and curse," Sobule notes. Nostalgia Kills was produced by her good friend and fellow artist Ben Lee, recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles with guests such as X's John Doe, the MC5's Wayne Kramer, Richard Barone of the Bongos, That Dog's Petra Haden and Jellyfish alumnus Roger Joseph Manning Jr. Noting the album's wide stylistic sweep, Sobule says that "it feels like it's a book of short stories that have similar feelings to them. It has a narrative. It's a look back and my life and very biographical, but at the same time the title track says it all -- Nostalgia kills. You've got to keep moving or die. Let's watch it today, but put it away." And certainly songs, including the spare, vibey "I Don't Wanna Wake Up," are "actually a look forward" -- with some hallucinatory assistance -- for Sobule.
"That was written after a breakup," Sobule recalls. "I was just at the beginning of writing a little short story, so I had no music for it -- maybe the first verse. It was the night a friend gave me some mushrooms, so I was microdosing and I was also reading -- I think it might have been Karen Armstrong's A History of God. That's why there are a lot of Biblical references, Old Testament references. It's hard to translate the exact meaning of that song; Some of them are more direct storytelling, but this one's a little trippy. And I had some strange program on my iPad where one of the settings was called Krautrock, and I messed with that and found this little drumbeat that we used. It's got that mix of organic and inorganic."
Sobule hits the road to start hawking Nostalgia Kills on Sept. 13 in Woodstock. N.Y., and has sporadic shows booked into December. #Fuck7thGrade, meanwhile, is due to workshop at the Pittsburgh City Theater during November. "I love performing, and I love telling the stories of the songs," Sobule says. "It feels good putting something new out again. It really has been too long."