THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “How Do You Burn? the ninth studio album from The Afghan Whigs, finds the band in peak form, making the most vaulting and thrilling music of their lives. The album is virile, ready-for-action, and finds frontman Greg Dulli as swaggering, enigmatic and darkly charismatic as ever, and singing up a storm.
The album reaches corners of sound that, 26 years after the band’s inception, find them at an apex. Referencing Warren Zevon, Prince and Led Zeppelin all while plugging in to the soul and R&B influences that have always set them apart, The Afghan Whigs are at a precipice of greatness. Says Dulli, “I’m beginning to see there are a million places we can go. I feel virile, ready for action, and I want to keep stalking greatness.”
How Do You Burn? follows on from the widely acclaimed records they’ve made previously since re-grouping in 2012 — Do To The Beast (2014) and In Spades (2017). How Do You Burn? picks up the baton laid down by each of those records and runs it to the horizon. Work on it began in September 2020, when the pandemic forced frontman/songwriter Dulli to abandon plans to tour his highly praised solo album Random Desire. The labour of love continued over the next 14 months.
The global pandemic dictated also that the band record largely apart from, and in different locations to, each other: Dulli, his co-producer Christopher Thorn and drummer Patrick Keeler were together in California, while bassist John Curley, guitarist Jon Skibic and strings man Rick Nelson laid down and engineered their own parts in Cincinnati, New Jersey and New Orleans, respectively.
For his supporting cast, Dulli called upon several serial collaborators including the late Mark Lanegan, who was a regular in Dulli’s Twilight Singers, a partner in The Gutter Twins and a close friend. Lanegan makes his Afghan Whigs debut singing backup vocals on two tracks. “It was Mark who named the album,” Dulli remarked. Susan Marshall, who sang on the Whigs album 1965, returns to the fray for Catch A Colt, one of the album’s standout tracks, loose-limbed like Some Girls-era Rolling Stones, but with the liquid polyrhythms of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk.
The multi-talented Van Hunt, who toured with the Whigs in 2012 and guested on Do To The Beast, brings his stacked-up, wall-of-sound vocals to both the plunging, voodoo-blues of Jyja and the audacious Take Me There, transforming the latter, says Dulli, “into this feral gospel song. We sing really well together, but what Van does production-wise … it’s unrelenting.” Then there’s Marcy Mays, lead vocalist on My Curse, the torch-song highlight of 1993’s seminal Gentlemen album, reprising her role here on the celestial Domino and Jimmy, playing Stevie Nicks to Dulli’s Lindsey Buckingham. “I wrote that song with Marcy in mind,” says Dulli. “No one sounds like her; she’s got an incredibly unique, emotional and evocative voice.”