In the early 1990s, the Afghan Whigs were signed to Sub Pop Records, which was home to grunge stalwarts Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney.
While the Afghan Whigs could play just as loud as any of those bands and also explored dark themes, their music had a uniquely strong R&B influence. The band broke up in 2001, but reformed 10 years later with a different lineup and a more cinematic but equally powerful sound. The band’s new album, “In Spades,” is its second since the reunion.
amNewYork talked with lead singer and songwriter Greg Dulli.
What was on your mind as you wrote these songs?
It’s not like I sat down and said this album is going to be about “blank.” I wrote the songs over a period of a couple years … but a lot of it was based on memory and dreams. I interact with my memory as much as I can. I have a history of dementia in my family so I try to exercise my memory as well as I can by reading, remembering, even doing Lumosity.
Is looking back at your past and trying to connect with your memories something you started doing recently?
I’ve done it for several years. Certainly since I entered my 40s. … These were devices I used to spur my creativity and to begin to write the songs.
Besides helping the songwriting process, are there other things you’ve gotten out of it?
Peace of mind. I think if you wander too far away from your inner child you are cheating yourself and prematurely aging. To stay in touch with aspects of your innocence is something, you know, I’m not here to preach, but it has worked for me.
I was sorry to hear about the June passing of guitarist Dave Rosser. Is “I Got Lost” largely about him?
We were almost finished with the record and I had finished all the lyrics except for the lyrics to “I Got Lost.” That was the only song that I wrote lyrics for after his diagnosis. When I listen to the song and look at the words on a piece of paper, I would have to say that his diagnosis and my long friendship with him are very present in the lyrics.
You’ve said “Toy Automatic” is your favorite song on the album. Can you talk about the writing process?
Some songs you have a longer relationship with than others. I spent a lot of time with “Toy Automatic.” … In particular, I had a relationship with someone and the person passed away without me being able to share my thoughts with them, and in that particular song I felt I was able to say some things that I was never able to say to the person.
What’s next for the band? Are you planning to go back into the studio again soon?
We were in the studio [in July] in New Orleans. We laid down several things. We are an active concern.