Carlock's shift in gears dates back to Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which left him and his mates "sitting around with our guitars, literally by candlelight" and writing some of the songs that wound up on The Jailbirds. "I'm aware that's a very long time ago, but we wrote the record and we just kinda kept going with it over the years. It was this open-ended thing that kept weighing on our hearts, so I'm glad it's finally getting out there."
"Young and Fucked Up," which features a guest appearance by New York rocker Jesse Malin, a longtime Carlock friend, is one of The Jailbirds' most personal tracks. It's fleshed out with a video that includes plenty of archival home video footage from Carlock's underground, skater culture roots. "I wanted to paint a portrait of my youth," explains Carlock, who wrote the song acoustically before applying its propulsive dynamics. "You're just bored and f***ed up, basically; We had so much going on -- so many people dying, overdoses, gangs, a lot of extreme violence, falling in love, out of love. It was like a movie.
"I really wanted people to understand where I came from -- to the detriment of my future, sometimes -- and where I'm going."
Particularly moving for Carlock is footage of a woman he "was in love with and kind of inspired the whole album." "She was dating my best friend and I never got to tell her how I felt," Carlock recalls. "They broke up and a year went by and we bumped into each other and I gave her a big hug. It felt like we were kind of on the same wavelength at that moment. She was going to the mall but said, 'When I get back, let's hang out and talk'...and she never came home that night. She got into a car accident on the way to the mall and was the only one in the car who died. I found her on those tapes, so she's in that music video, smiling. That means so much to me..."
The Jailbirds, due out Feb. 8, also features contributions from Jared Hart of Scandals and photographer Danny Clinch, who sings on the track "Jeralyn." Carlock is planning to tour in support of the album while still maintaining his other musical endeavors.
"It's a bit of an identity crisis," he acknowledges. "I've been in, like, every single genre. It's just what I do. But I'm definitely excited to go to this next level. To be in this kind of like Springsteen camp is pretty unbelievable to me. When I started this record I was a kid who dreamed of being in a situation with Jesse Malin or Danny Clinch, people who really influenced me in this culture -- not fame-wise or success-wise, but artistically. It's something new, and I love that."