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Whoops, Bottle Rockets create an album

By Brian Baker, November 2015

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The CD also marks the Bottle Rockets' studio reunion with producer Eric Ambel, the sonic architect for a good many of the band's best works. Henneman admits the band had a relatively weak reason for breaking with Ambel and is convinced that "South Broadway Athletic Club" is all the better for his input.

"When we stopped working with him, it was our version of the mid-life crisis Corvette," he says. "We've been around, we're getting old, let's try something different. Then you get past that, and it's like, 'What?!' We know the guy, we work great with the guy, he understands what we're doing, we understand his techniques. That was a no-brainer."

The songs didn't just begin popping when Henneman got out of his own head. In a stroke of great fortune, he came into possession of a pair of Rickenbacker guitars, and once he got his hands on them, he couldn't stop the torrent of songs that followed.

"It was literally the guitar that kickstarted everything," says Henneman. "It's been 20 years since I had one; I had to sell it. I could never have a nice guitar because they were worth money, and I would always have to come up with money in a hurry. I got one and the shit started flying out. It's my ultimate songwriting guitar."

After stockpiling songs on his computer for several years, Henneman revisted the material and realized he had inadvertently written an album. Considering them closer to being complete than envisioned, he shared the songs with his band mates.

"I was playing what I'd come up with for the guys, at least some of it, and everybody liked them," says Henneman. "We actually started playing them out in shows and they were our favorite songs of the entire set. And it was, 'Okay, let's do this thing.' I went back and looked at the ones that weren't finished and I thought, 'What's not finished about that?' All of a sudden, we went from having four songs to realizing we had at least an album's worth. It seemed like we had nothing, and we had everything."

While the Bottle Rockets' sound still exhibits the same dynamic gritty-garage-rock-to-passionate-folk-ballad range characteristic of their catalog, Henneman considers "South Broadway Athletic Club" to be the band's most contemporary album to date. That's largely because their mindset was very different from start to finish.

"The last really concentrated effort we made on an album was ‘Zoysia,' and we really worked that," says Henneman. "We realized after it came out that nobody buys albums any more. The whole thing was conceived to be something - we slaved over the artwork and the liner notes - and a year into doing interviews, we realized nobody had seen the liner notes."

"This album, we're way more adjusted to the modern world. We just put down songs we liked, and by doing so, I think we came up with the album we all like the best of any one we've done. It had some intent to it, but it was funny how accidental a lot of it was. This one was like a pregnancy we didn't know about until we had the baby."

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