Tell me about the concept for The Book Of Law.
LAWRENCE ROTHMAN: I kind of dove in. Originally I wasn’t going to do that, but I had this moment where my dad turned into like, the biggest bigot in the world about my gender fluidity and my imagery. The record was done, and then I erased and re-did the vocals after this thing with my dad. At that point I was like, Fuck this. I’m just gonna spew my thoughts to pop songs. It’s how I’ve felt inside all these years. If the hipsters don’t like it, I don’t give a fuck.
And how did the recording go?
I’m a control freak. I wanted to do everything organically, even though it sounds very electronic. Everything was tracked to old tape machines — the old, vintage equipment inspired the sound of the whole thing. Weirdly, just because of the hard work of me engineering every morsel of the record, there’s this level of exhaustion in there. And because of the exhaustion, mixed with my father being a fucking prick from hell, there’s this air of sadness. It’s sort of the soul of the whole thing.
I worked with Justin Raisen, who produced Angel Olsen and Sky Ferreira’s records. I brought him in to produce, and he’s a fucking maniac. That led to drug ODs, fist fights, jail, police getting called on him by record companies, threatening to cut a guy’s neck off on Thanksgiving…so we had to do most of the record pretending we weren’t working with Justin. My wife wouldn’t let me go near him. The record company was like, You can’t work with Justin Raisen. It was bizarre.
I have this crazy studio. I’m a solo artist, but I didn’t want to play everything, that’s kind of boring to me. I like the energy of humans laying down tracks to tape, sort of old school. And I was like, What if we did it where I somehow got all of my idols to come down and we fuck it up? And Justin’s crazy — he was like, “Make your crazy dream list.” And every name I wrote down, Justin got to come down to the studio. We got Kim Gordon, Duff McKagan from Guns N Roses, Pino Palladino who played on D’Angelo’s record. It was fucking nuts. And it’s at my place, too, so I had all these people rolling through. It was fucking awesome. Having Kim Gordon and Duff McKagan together was so, like, illegal.
I didn’t want to feel so sad, but I was tired and someone was putting me down. I looked up to my dad, and the fact that he was just such a dick about not being open to things, that I haven’t talked to him since — it’s just weird. He bought me my first musical instruments. If you can’t even trust your own family members, who can you trust? You’re just here on earth alone and you will die alone. Regardless if you’re surrounded by family or not, everyone exits by themselves. Even while you’re here, it feels like you’re kinda always by yourself no matter what. And you only have yourself to rely on. That was sort of my biggest realization. I think that’s why I obsess and micro-manage everything, because I feel like I only have myself to rely on and trust. Hopefully it won’t harden me too much, but I definitely feel like all I got is myself — and all nine of my different alternate egos as my friends.