Longtime CIRCLE JERKS bassist Zander Schloss is starting a new chapter in his musical career with the release of his first solo recording, "Song About Songs", from Blind Owl Records. Along with the announcement, Schloss has shared the lead single and title track along with an accompanying music video.
As veteran Los Angeles music journalist and critic Chris Morris writes in the album's liner notes: "Played tenderly, with a striking intimacy, the subtle and affecting material on 'Song About Songs' may well come as a surprise to listeners who know Zander Schloss only from three decades of bash-it-out work with the CIRCLE JERKS and other punk units… Here, we get a long-overdue look at a hitherto unheard side of his musical personality. It bears the thrill of discovery."
Schloss has an impressive résumé that includes his featured acting performance alongside Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez in Alex Cox's 1984 cult classic feature "Repo Man"; work on the soundtracks for Cox's later films "Sid & Nancy", "Straight To Hell", "Walker"; and "Highway Patrolman". He is well known as touring musical director and guitarist for Joe Strummer of THE CLASH, with performances on Strummer's first solo single 'Trash City' and album 'Earthquake Weather'. He also has appearances on record with LOW & SWEET ORCHESTRA, MAGNIFICENT BASTARDS, THELONIOUS MONSTER and in concert with THE WEIRDOS. In 2021-22, he will be seen on stage during the CIRCLE JERKS' pandemic-delayed 40th-anniversary tour.
But "Song About Songs", which features the Los Angeles-based performer as singer, guitarist, and writer of nine striking original compositions, displays a revelatory new aspect of his work. It will surprise listeners accustomed to hearing Schloss in an aggressive hardcore format, but the St. Louis-born musician notes that his early musical inspirations came from a distinctly different realm.
"When I was 12 years old," he says, "I made enough money as a janitor in a candy factory to buy my first guitar. I drew a picture of myself as Bob Dylan on the cover of Nashville Skyline. I bought the harmonica holder, the harmonica, my guitar, and Bob Dylan's book 'Writings And Drawings', his first collection of lyrics, and I learned that album in its entirety, by ear. To me, those songs were tidy and they were concise. They were great examples of what a songwriter could do in two or three minutes.
"Everybody always used to make fun of me because I was a muso. I'd studied Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and Neil Young and all of those guys back when I was a kid. Then I moved out to California and sunk my teeth into Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page and became a rocker. Then in my last year of high school I started listening to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, moved in with my jazz teacher for a year and became a jazz guy."
Due in early 2022, "Song About Songs" was recorded at Los Angeles's Sargent Recorders, owned by producer and fellow Missouri native Gus Seyffert, who also plays bass on the collection; Seyffert has worked with Roger Waters, Norah Jones, Beck, and the BLACK KEYS, among others. The emerging singer-songwriter Bedouine guests as vocalist on the track "I Have Loved The Story Of My Life".
As Schloss sees it, the title track of "Song About Songs" typifies the overall approach on this intensely moving solo bow: "I've asked myself many times, who are you, Zander, and what do you want to do? These songs were written for my own therapy. I hope that this music would help people transcend their own sadness through the power of music and into a healing place. I have a huge amount of reverence for music and its healing powers. I obviously have songs that have saved my life.
"This is my polar opposite version of punk rock. Punk rock is volume and anger and speed. I wanted to do space and vulnerability and excruciating, almost subconscious emotions, things that I feel so deeply that I would never say them out loud."
"Song About Songs" track listing:
01. My Dear Blue
02. Not So Long Ago
03. Sin Of Wasting Time
04. Old Cliches & Diamond Rings
05. Dead Friend Letter
06. I Have Loved The Story Of My Life (featuring Bedouine)
07. The Road
08. Married To Sadness
09. Song About Songs
Schloss will also be touring with the CIRCLE JERKS for their 40th-anniversary tour which kicks off in October and continues into 2022.
Photo credit: Geoff Moore