Last week in Ohio, Cold War Kids’ tour bus driver was held at gunpoint. While the band was in a bar nearby, the driver escaped the robbery attempt of his phone and wallet, but not before the gunman fired multiple shots in his fleeing direction.
“A bullet hit our bus, which was actually right outside of my bunk,” explains Nathan Willett (above, right), the band’s lead vocalist in an exclusive interview with VH1 on Saturday. Arriving back to the vehicle to find a police tape-laden crime scene wasn’t what they expected after performing at Newport Music Hall last Tuesday (April 9). “And then he drove 14 hours right afterwards,” bass guitar player Matt Maust (above, left) chimes in of their driver, adding even bit more heroic color to the story.
With all parties now safe and far from danger, Cold War Kids’ literary-inspired songwriter and bassist join me in a VIP room on the upper level of New York City’s Webster Hall. The lighting is low and, despite the fact that the sun’s still shining outside on this late Saturday afternoon, there’s a late-night speakeasy feel to the surroundings. After being a fly on the wall during the band’s light-flickering soundcheck, we begin a 30-minute conversation on how changing lead guitar players while crafting their newest album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, has altered the band’s trajectory.
DMLH, the band’s fourth full-length record, gets its title from Nathanael West’s 1933 novel Miss Lonelyhearts, a black comedy book about a newspaper advice columnist that Willett feels “does so many things that I love for art to do.”
In its book review, The New York Times called the author’s wit both “hard” and “brilliant,” noting that the “tragic letters” sent to the columnist/main character were “human documents and well sustain the burden of the underlying meaning.” And heavy is the head that wears the counselor’s crown; relating to the protagonist’s spiritual crisis while reading the novel over a year ago, the rock lyricist felt the dark humor was a good thematic fit for the group that he’s both the face and voice of.