For an artist whose career has been built espousing the virtues of DIY self-reliance, it's been a long time since Sole (born Tim Holland) has done a record all by himself with no producers or label people listening over his shoulder. And while Sole confides that this was nerve-racking at times as he worked on his new record, in the end, he says, it gave him space to unleash a verbal barrage that touches on geo-politics, revolutionary ideals and personal growth, among other topics. A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing is an appropriate title for his new album, which is due out tomorrow, because Sole seems to leave no stone unturned in his quest to deconstruct the myriad cultural and political ills infecting modern civilization.
See also: - Sole on A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing - Sole on what the Occupy Denver movement represents - Sole & the Skyrider band bring rock and hip-hop together with a social conscience
Currently on tour in Europe, Sole will be back in time to celebrate the album's release locally on December 7 at the hi-dive alongside Skyrider, ManMantis and Wheelchair Sports Camp. Before heading out on tour the day after the elections, we caught up with him to talk about how he narrowly avoided making an emo record, was empowered creatively by not giving a fuck, and why his wife says he shouldn't expect to earn any new fans with A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing.
Westword: The last time we talked, you had a lot of the album recorded. Did a lot of things change over the last couple of months?
Sole: I didn't decide until I went in to mix it. I recorded a couple of new songs right around when the Kickstarter ended. It turned into an album. I'm really happy with how it came out. It was kind of nerve-racking because it was my first truly solo album. In the past when I've done solo albums, I've had some producer or label person being there saying, "That song sucks," or "That song's good." When you have to do it all yourself, it's hard to be your own A&R sometimes. You don't know whether it's good enough.
When you get into that situation, what do you do? Do you call up some people and ask them to listen, or do you keep it all to yourself?
I kept it all to myself. As soon as it was done, my wife was like, "Don't expect to earn any new fans with this record. This is so brutal and non-stop and relentless." All right, well, if that's what she thinks, then I'm gonna work like that and go all out. I'm gonna sell it as what it is: a relentless verbal assault.
Is this your most inflammatory record? And is that something you were aware of while you were making it?
I'm very aware of it. The thing is, I never understood how free speech worked. I never understood how much I could get away with saying. Once I started to realize that, I wanted to push those boundaries more. It's inflammatory. It's PTSD-ish. It was written after some extremely traumatic experiences that really fucked me up. A lot of it is just how I channeled those experiences.
How certain are you that you'll have your phone tapped after this drops?
[Laughs] The work I've been doing in the past year has probably put me on a radar, but there are 10,000-20,000 people who are on the same radar. Don't fuck up. You can't let fear rule the decision-making process. If I go to jail on some bullshit, I'll do a correspondence course and come out a professor. Everyone is surveilled. We can't live in fear. Everything I'm doing is aboveground. I'm not part of a secret organization. We're just using our constitutional rights.
Would this record have been what it is if you hadn't been involved in Occupy?
No. It would've been totally different. I came back from tour wanting to make a very personal, emo diary, emotional-rap about my personal life. I wanted it to be entirely different from what I ended up making. I got back, I started recording, and then I took time off and started doing Occupy. Next thing I knew, nine months had gone by, and it was time to make another record.