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Jack Antonoff interview: all-female Bleachers cover album is a 'final chapter' of Strange Desire

He also gives EW an update on the next Bleachers album.

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Bleachers’ Strange Desire came out over a year ago, but the band’s debut album continues to take on new life: Frontman Jack Antonoff just released a cover version of the album featuring all-female vocals titled Terrible Thrills Vol. 2.

This project is the follow-up to Steel Train’s 2010’s Terrible Thrills Vol. 1, which features female-sung covers of Antonoff’s other band’s third album. (He fronted Steel Train from 2002 to 2013.) “When I write songs, I hear my version of a female voice in my head and I wrote the songs in the key that a woman would sing it,” Antonoff, who’s currently in the studio recording Bleachers’ second album, tells EW. “It’s not a re-interpretation of the album, it’s a look into what I was imagining when I was sitting at the piano writing the songs.”

Below, Antonoff explains how the project, which he says took a year to finish, came together.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Can you take me through the process of making this? I know in your note you said it was “all over the place.”

JACK ANTONOFF: It was everything from me and [Dixie Chicks’] Natalie Maines, which is the first one that I did, in the studio together, making it, to artists like Lucius and Susanna Hoffs just completely re-recording and recreating everything, to artists like Tinashe and Carly Rae Jepsen sending me a vocal they did and then me putting it together in a remix session. So it was literally, every possible way that I’ve ever known to make records with people is how we put it together. It took a year, basically.

So it’s kind of like the original, in a way?

I wouldn’t say that, but I would say it’s a real kind of peer into my head. But I think that’s good, I want people to know how things come about and the whole process and how things change and that with Bleachers, the reason why I sing so many songs in such a low key is not because I necessarily planned it that way but because I write them for a female to sing, then it drops to a whole different octave. So there’s all these reasons why things end up the way they do, and I want people to get that. I want people to be able to hear this and start putting the puzzle pieces together and seeing how I make the music and why I make the music.

Where did the name Terrible Thrills come from?

It’s a lyric from the opening song in Rocky Horror Picture Show. The song “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” and it just really speaks to me and what it feels like, odd and eerie and thrilling all at once. Because it’s not just like a big celebration of the record, there’s a lot of emotion and intensity there.

You said that you’re in the studio working on the second Bleachers album. Can you tell me anything about that?

I’m there right now. I don’t really like to talk too much about things before they’re done, but I’m in that really exciting phase where I’m just trying tons of bizarre things and slowly putting it together and understanding what it’s going to sound like.

Terrible Thrills Vol. 2 is now available for free on Google Play.