Chromatics’ Johnny Jewel On Releasing Dear Tommy This Fall: “That’s The Idea, Unless I Change My Mind Again”

Last week, Chromatics released their first new song in nearly two years, “Black Walls,” and announced that their much-delayed album Dear Tommy would be out in the fall. Just this morning, Johnny Jewel dropped a separate solo album called Themes For Television. He also sat down for an interview with Billboard recently, where he talked about the delays surrounding Dear Tommy and what he envisions for the future.

“We’re releasing [Dear Tommy] this fall — that’s the idea, unless I change my mind again. But this is to begin that process,” he said in the interview. “There’s eight videos that we made, and [“Black Walls”] is the first one. Some of them will be [released] before the record, some of them will be after the record. I don’t want to release too much before the record is out, because it’s a lot of unheard material. But [“Black Walls”] is a song that’s no one ever heard, and it wasn’t on the original track listing because the track listing has changed.”

He says that the tracklist changed from what he initially shared back in 2014, and that there will be new versions of the songs that were previously released as singles, though the old versions of those songs will eventually return in some capacity. “That’s why I always suggest that people buy the vinyl, because once you buy the vinyl, I can’t delete it,” he said. “That version that they want will come back. It won’t be on the album, but everything will be available again. I know it’s sadistic and all those things, but I just needed to kind of clear the slate for myself, and I accept all hate mail and responsibility for that.”

Jewel also talks more about the near-death experience that led him to destroy every existing physical copy of Dear Tommy that had already been made:

I was in Hawaii and it was Christmas Day, and I almost drowned. I was out in the ocean, and it was like the first full moon on Christmas in 38 years. I was swimming in this bay for three weeks straight and a couple other people drowned that same day, one was a local — it was just an unexpected shift in water. We don’t need to go into it so much. But it was terrifying in its way. It was way off the shore, no one around, water picking up a little bit, and just muscle failure. And I just started thinking about things, and tried to sit out there until I could move, and I wasn’t thinking about producing records at that moment. But it had an effect on me, which — any kind of traumatic experience that somebody goes through kind of burns a pathway in your brain, and connects synapses that previously weren’t really connected [a few years ago].

Read the full interview here.