Alanis Morissette took four years off between albums, during which time she settled into married life, had a child, made a cameo on “Weeds” and “wore a lot of sweatpants.” And while she wouldn’t trade any of the events that “transformed her,” she was getting a little tired of dressing down. Thankfully, she found a way of rectifying that: Her new album, Havoc and Bright Lights.
“I was dying to write this record. I find there are ebbs and flows to the whole cycle of being under the rock and wearing sweatpants, and then coming out and putting 16-inch heels and glitter on and sharing the conversation-starting songs,” the singer told MTV News. “I wanted to write when I was pregnant, to be honest, but I was down for the count, on the couch, at 3 p.m. every day, so that wasn’t going to happen. So I built a studio in my living room, and Guy Sigsworth, the producer, came over from London, and we wrote together. And my son was five-and-a-half months old, and I just breastfed, and he trumped everything, his needs were number one, and we wrote between those times.”
While motherhood is definitely a theme on Havoc — in stores Tuesday (August 28) — Morissette said things aren’t quite so cut and dry. Rather, the songs she wrote explored the tangential elements of her new life — an approach that both thrilled and terrified.
“The form [of the album] is the motherhood, but the essence of it really is a deepening of intimacy and a deepening of commitment, and therefore there being a lot of healing,” she explained. “I’m healing a lot of wounds from my childhood, and so is my husband, and … that healing definitely shows up in songs like ‘Empathy’ and ‘Lense,’ the whole idea of fostering connection, that horrible feeling of disconnection from God or each other or our own selves. It’s a very hollow, piercing, terrible feeling.
“The whole album was sort of written in a dreamlike stage,” she continued. “I talk about women a lot, the misogyny of patriarchy, the idea of femininity in men and women. I talk about what it’s like to be famous, I comment on being married — I write a bona fide love song to my husband — and the idea of staying on course and not giving up until I found a partner that I shared the same values with.”
Working once again with Sigsworth (who produced her last album, 2008’s Flavors of Entanglement) — not to mention avowed rock guy Joe Chiccarelli — Morissette said she’s finally struck the right balance between her angry past and her enlightened, committed present. And sonically, she’s finally been able to pay tribute to some of her heroes — a fact that leaves the door open to some potentially amazing possibilities.
“I live for hip-hop. I grew up listening to Etta James and Heavy D and Leonard Cohen, so it’s a blend of all that, mixed with pop choruses you can’t get out of your head,” she said. “And there are a few rap songs that are really dying to be covered by me, in terms of me wanting to hear them, not assuming people want to hear them.”
What hip-hop song would you like to hear Alanis Morissette take on? Tell us below!