Jason Elliott of the Atlanta, Georgia band Spirits and the Melchizedek Children says that listeners will notice that the group’s second full-length album, the just released So Happy, It’s Sad, is not as dark as the band’s last album, We Are Here To Save You. The bandleader said some of that difference can be attributed to changes he’s made in his life since the 2011 album’s release.
“A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and that was really the start of me making that decision of living healthier," Elliott says.
He says that his diagnosis meant a change in diet and, he adds, total abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
“I’ve battled with addiction my whole life and I feel like I exhausted all of that within me," he says. "Honestly, it was a vicious cycle, trying to find happiness by other means.”
Elliott wrote this new record while still using drugs and alcohol, but he undertook the recording as a sober man. He admits that he had some concern as to whether he would find the same energy for the music at first but adds that those worries quickly fell away. In part, he says, because of the musicians he’d surrounded himself with.
“Going into the studio I was very, very worried about that," he says. "But I still had a sense of confidence. One, purely being the band. I come up with a loose skeleton of the song and the mood that has to be handed and the band comes in and they’re able to know what needs to happen. All of them are extremely talented. It’s that kind of unspoken agreement about how things should be.”
Although Elliott employed five other musicians for the album, the touring version of Spirits and the Melchizedek Children is a quartet. Elliott says that despite spending hours in close quarters the group’s current tour—essentially two months of nightly performances—has only brought the musicians closer together.
“We are all best of friends," he says. "We’re all full grown men. If we have an issue, we bring up, then squash it and start talking about how we can play better that night.”
Spirits and Melchizedek Children performs at John Barleycorn’s this evening, the band’s latest release is titled So Happy, It’s Sad.