The Airborne Toxic Event
Ten years ago, a distraught freelance writer locked himself in a room and furiously scribbled his way out of a cataclysmic week.
A cancer diagnosis for his mother. An auto-immune disorder diagnosis for himself. A break-up with a long-term lover. Pneumonia. “And then a bum threw up on me and a truck ran over my cat,” the unfortunate soul adds with a snicker.
Mikel Jollett’s journey has taken him from the painful to the profound and back again. In the process, he has managed to excavate something stunning from beneath the cursed ruins of death and disease, disappointment and despair.
Though Jollett entered his hovel intent on penning the great American novel, when he emerged a year later, it was not with the fictional book he had in mind, but a book of songs fueled by all too real tragedy. Those songs required a band, and that band would be The Airborne Toxic Event.
This unlikely group, a collection of five players from wildly diverse musical backgrounds, became an even unlikelier success story. Defying all established conventions about how success was supposed to be achieved in the early 21st century music business, they forged their reputation on the back of a surprising smash single, expanded it through relentless touring, and solidified it with a singular body of work that blends punk, folk, pop, symphony, literature, poetry and – above all – naked honesty.
I have been a huge fan of Airborne Toxic ever since seeing them give an incredible performance at the Avalon in Hollywood 8 years ago. I have since seen them play live three more times, and every time has been uniquely spectacular. To me, All I Ever Wanted is one of the greatest live albums of all-time.