Out of Town

Whiskeytown's last album is a rock-and-roll masterpiece. So how come you haven't heard it?

"Brown liquors used to really weigh down on my soul," he says. "I would become so bluesy, you know? And man, I must have had a hangover for two fucking years. But you have to go out of your way to get hammered on vodka. You don't start slurring, and playing with handguns doesn't become a good idea at one in the morning. Go shoot the pumpkin, you know? I never liked that feeling...I mean, there have been times in everybody's life where they sit down and have a stiff shot of bourbon. But I haven't had that time in quite some time. It's like trying to ease off the heaviness of things. I'm now trying to enjoy stuff. I just think I've reached a point where I kind of know how to take care of myself and how to keep those sorts of situations or those feelings at bay, you know? Like not to trust them over trusting putting myself in a better place."


With all of Adams' growing pains, it's no wonder that relationships among Whiskeytown's members were frequently strained. The day before the band went to New York to sign with Outpost (which had heard about them from former dB Chris Stamey), the drummer and bass player quit. Then came the blowup between Adams and original guitarist-vocalist Phil Wandscher. "The rumor is, I fired him," Adams says. "Actually, we had to quit playing together. We were going to kill each other. It was a total Noel and Liam kind of thing."

In Adams' mind, Pneumonia's nonrelease was the final nail in Whiskeytown's coffin. "The decision was made for us, really, just by time and circumstance, and I respect things that happen like that," he says. "By the time we went to make Pneumonia, there were only three surviving members. Everybody kind of pooled thoughts together for that album, and when it didn't come out, it was kind of like we reached an end that's inevitable, and we all knew it in the back of our minds."

Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary recorded their best—and last—album three years ago. It might be another three years before you can hear it.
Marina Chavez
Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary recorded their best—and last—album three years ago. It might be another three years before you can hear it.

Still, Adams remains excited about finishing up Whiskeytown's last recording. "Ethan and I are actually remixing it, and it's going to be really challenging. It's probably going to sound a lot like a Rolling Stones record from the '70s or a Beatles album in the way that it's mixed. We don't fool around with a lot of compression, and I'd much rather it be something that you put on your headphones and you have a really hard time not freaking out--stereophonic mixes and stuff that sounds really cool in a car, like the way all those old Beatles records sound."

Manager Callari says he's negotiating with a label to sign Adams as a solo artist, with the release of Pneumonia as part of the contract. But a deal is far from finalized. "It will come out," he says. "When? I couldn't tell you."

For his part, Adams says that he wouldn't dare enter into a "regular" major-label situation again. "I just don't trust it anymore," he declares. "I also don't really want somebody telling me that I'm going to be a star when I know for a fucking fact that I'm not going to be--and I don't care to be. I mean, it's not in my agenda to be a star. It's in my agenda to make really great records that I'm completely proud of."

Adams wants a label that will allow him to release two albums a year--something of a pipe dream given the current state of the music business, though everyone agrees he has more than enough material. "I know him well enough to know the only constant is he'll change," says Williams with a laugh. "And when Pneumonia comes out and gets the reaction it should get, I think that'll motivate him to do a Whiskeytown record again. We'll just have to wait and see."

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