LOS ANGELES — Peter Gabriel discovered and signed him in the mid-'90s, critics adore him and major stars have covered his songs, but Joseph Arthur has remained a relatively under-the-radar artist for nearly 15 years.
That may be changing now: The singer/songwriter has kicked off several months of extreme productivity that will culminate with the September 19 release of his fifth studio album, Nuclear Daydream.
When MTV News caught up with Arthur in May, he was receiving the 2006 College Vanguard Award at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards for donating his song, "In the Sun," to the In the Sun Foundation, a charity R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe started to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. Stipe recorded six cover versions of the track, and Chris Martin, Justin Timberlake and Will.I.Am also worked on the project (see "Chris Martin, Justin Timberlake Help Michael Stipe Raise Katrina Funds").
Although he was excited to perform at the awards show, Arthur said the experience was "surreal." "I think it's the first time I've ever won an award," he said. "Going through this kind of press line thing, it's a bit weird."
Since the release of 2004's Our Shadows Will Remain, the Akron, Ohio, native started his own label, Lonely Astronaut Records — which will release Nuclear Daydream — and published his first book of original artwork, "We Almost Made It," which was accompanied by a mostly instrumental 21-track album called The Invisible Parade.
"It started out like it was going to be a fanzine-type situation, like poems and drawings," he said, "but it wound up being a hardcover book with an instrumental CD, and I stripped out all the poems and just made it about a visual landscape with a CD to accompany it."
Arthur is known for constantly altering his sound, and he assured that Nuclear Daydream will take listeners in yet another direction. "I'm always movin' on from the last thing I did; I react," he said. "So it's looser and freer. And I think it's a bit more rock and roll."
And while he has plans to begin a tour of U.S. and Canada this fall and will perform at Montreal's Osheaga festival on September 2, Arthur has also already starting wrapping up his next album, which is set for release in 2007. "I'm out here [in L.A.] workin' on a follow-up record to [Nuclear Daydream]. So I'm movin' at a very fast pace."