The Way Forward: E (Eels) is Looking Forward to Being “Alright Again”

On the occasion of his 12th studio album under the EELS name.

“Are we Alright Again” was written in the early days of the pandemic, when it first got bad. I was writing it for myself, to give myself some hope, like: There will be an end to this. And I thought maybe by the time it came out, it could be what’s happening, like it could be an anthem! Are we alright again? Yeah! Of course it didn’t turn out that way, and it’s the same fantasy today that it was the day I wrote it. You’ve gotta remain hopeful that there will be a day when we can listen to it that way. And I feel like it’s still something that could be nice for people to hear, to have the same daydream that I’m having. Keep looking forward. There’s gonna be a time when this song could be more of a documentary than a fantasy.

I’m always hitting reset on myself and trying to be thankful for how good things are. About a month ago, I was feeling a little miserable about the quarantine. I live kind of a reclusive lifestyle anyway, so it’s probably easier for people like me — it’s not as big a change. But even for people like me, it’s getting relentless. That night, a big earthquake hit right next to Los Angeles, scared the shit out of me, and I thought, “I miss when it was just the quarantine. Now it’s quarantine and an earthquake.” Things could always be worse, and I’m always reminding myself of that.

I work at home. The hardest part for me and the guys in the band is that we can’t go on tour — particularly after the last two tours, which were the funnest and best times we’ve ever had on the road. We couldn’t wait to get back out there, and we had big plans to do a lot of shows after this came out. That’s really hard. We’re constantly texting each other, “When’s it going to change?” And of course nobody knows.

Originally we thought the record would come out and we’d go on tour, but when it became clear that wasn’t going to be an option, there was some discussion about waiting to put the record out. I thought, Nah, people still need music, maybe more now than ever. And we had some music, so we put it out there.

Everything I’ve been doing isn’t really making new music. I’m doing all the promoting, and we’re trying to figure out if there’s any live thing we can do. And I have a 3-year-old boy, so that’s a lot of my time. I think it’s easier for kids his age than for older kids. Imagine being a 12-year-old boy stuck in an apartment all day, it must be hell. For a 3-year-old, they don’t know much difference, so he’s doing OK with it so far. I imagine the older you get the harder it is.

If I had made the whole album after the pandemic hit and after George Floyd, it would probably be a completely different album. As for the next one, I don’t know. I don’t see how this year can’t change your perspective. But I put out this record that was mostly made before everything changed so much because it’s still about pretty universal themes that will always be part of people’s lives and probably still are part of people’s current lives. 

(Photo Credit: Gus Black)

EELS have had one of the most consistently acclaimed careers in music. The ever-changing project of principal singer/songwriter E (Mark Oliver Everett), EELS have released 12 studio albums since their 1996 debut, Beautiful Freak. In 2008, E published his highly-acclaimed book Things the Grandchildren Should Know and starred in the award-winning Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives documentary about the search to understand his quantum physicist father, Hugh Everett III. The band’s highly anticipated new album Earth To Dora is out now.

(Photo Credit: Gus Black)