Tom Waits Opens Up about 'Bad As Me,' Reflects on Captain Beefheart

Tom Waits Opens Up about 'Bad As Me,' Reflects on Captain Beefheart
While we've known since February that Tom Waits was working on a new album of original songs, it wasn't until late August that any further information about the project was available. But with the release of Bad As Me through Waits's longtime label Anti- firmly set for Monday (October 24), fans can now fully prepare themselves to dig into the beloved multi-talented artist's latest offering.

For many of those fans, the best news is that Bad As Me follows in the blues-wailing tradition of Waits's most popular albums over the last 25 years: Rain Dogs, Bone Machine and Mule Variations, featuring Keith Richards, Flea, Les Claypool, Charlie Musselwhite and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos augmenting Waits's usual band consisting of guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Larry Taylor, and Waits's son Casey on drums.

Waits recently told Exclaim!, "On one hand [these records] all happen very quickly, and on the other hand they take forever," adding that some of his main songwriting inspirations for the album came through reading early 20th century West Coast newspapers.

"Sometimes you'd turn the page and it would disintegrate, like it was made out of butterfly wings," he says. "But what you realize immediately is that nothing is new under the sun, to quote Ecclesiastes, and at the same time there are fascinating insights into life before cellphones."

During the wide-ranging interview, Waits also shared his thoughts on the late 2010 passing of Captain Beefheart (aka Don Van Vliet), whose dada-ist approach to the blues in many ways provided the template for much of Waits's output since his 1983 masterpiece Swordfishtrombones.

"Many years ago in Chicago I was on a TV show that was supposed to be myself, Beefheart and Mose Allison," Waits recalls. "During the sound check, Beefheart got into an argument with the soundman and hurled a piece of equipment at him, so it ended up just being me and Mose Allison on the show.

"Don could be very blunt and very brutal. That was really my first introduction to him. At the time, I was on a quest for pointed shoes, and I couldn't find them anywhere. I mentioned this to Don and he said, 'Missouri! That's where they all are, man, Missouri!'"

Waits continues, "He was angry when Swordfishtrombones came out. He thought I'd appropriated the image of the fish from Trout Mask Replica, but to me, it was more of a tribute. He was a comet; somebody said that Trout Mask is the only pop rock recording that can be considered a work of art by the standards imposed by other disciplines, like painting. He was not like anything else."

You can stream Bad As Me here and pick up the album Monday.

Tom Waits - Bad As Me by antirecords