At the request of Rhino Records, the Afghan Whigs reentered the studio to record two new tracks for their retrospective, Unbreakable (out May 1), their first release since 1998's 1965. "I'm a Soldier" and "Magazine" were the resulting songs, which have joined a tracklisting including tunes like Up In It's "Retarded," Gentleman's title track, and 1965's "Crazy" and "John the Baptist."
"Rhino Records asked us to write a new song for the retrospective," singer/guitarist Greg Dulli revealed to SPIN.com. "'Magazine' was left on the tapes from the old days -- that was a song we were working on right before we broke up."
But it wasn't a challenge for Dulli and company -- bassist John Curley, lead guitarist Rick McCollum, and drummer Michael Horrigan -- to revisit unfinished work, as Dulli maintained he and his bandmates "are still bros," and that entering the studio with them "was like riding a bike, a bike you know well." They brought that kinship while crafting the intense and stunning soundscapes of "I'm a Soldier," which boasts dark and softly dissonant melodies and a sweeping, sneering chorus.
Dulli penned the four-minute opus in an hour after watching a documentary on the war in Iraq. "I've never written an overtly political song, and I'm not sure that is one, but one of the soldiers made the exclamation, 'I'm a soldier,' and was very emotional about it," Dulli recalled. "He talked about his dead friends, and he had his doubts as to why he was there -- I was moved by that particular statement."
Though Dulli added only two new tracks to Unbreakable, more fresh material can be expected from the singer, who is currently in a New Orleans studio recording with ex-Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan under their Gutter Twins moniker. "We're going to keep on working on the new album until June, our deadline to have all the songs recorded, and then we'll chose from what I hope to be a lengthy bit of material," Dulli said of the Gutter Twins' impending project. "If you know us, you know it probably won't sound like sunshine and puppy dogs."
Now Hear This:
The Afghan Whigs - "I'm a Soldier"STREAMING MP3
On the Web:
The Afghan Whigs at summerkiss.com
Talk: Are you wigging out for this retrospective?