Bruce Springsteen's recent 54-minute interview with Rolling Stone was just published online. In addition to talking about his new album, High Hopes, which is now streaming online and officially available on Tuesday (January 14th) -- "The Boss" finally got around to addressing bootlegs. When asked about following other artists' ongoing "bootleg series" projects, Springsteen laughed: "Old concerts, I don't know. Do people need them anymore? Don't they just go on the Internet and find them?"
Rather than answer the question regarding releasing pristine official versions of classic soundboards making the rounds, Springsteen revealed, "I go back to stuff all the way to before I recorded. I had a whole other career as a heavy-metal guitarist (big laugh) that never came out on record anywhere. But there's tons of music. If you go on YouTube, there is actually quite a bit of it there. And I had a prog band (laughs), basically. I mean, Steel Mill was a heavy-metal, prog-rock, blues-based classic, sort of late-1960's, early-1970's four-piece unit. We made a lot of music. I never close the door on any of it. I suppose it would be nice to get some of the classic concerts that have kept people's interest over the past 20, 30 or even 40 years and maybe formalize them in some way. That's not off the drawing board either. It's all there."
When pressed about a follow-up to his critically acclaimed and fan-beloved 1998 four-disc box set of outtakes, Tracks, Springsteen said, "Once again, it comes up against the time you have. One of the things we're looking at is a River project, sort of similar to the one we did with Darkness (On The Edge Of Town). It depends on the material that's around and what it needs. On Darkness, we were able to release a lot of the Darkness material that hadn't been released up to that point. That was fun to do.”
When asked if The River box set would follow the template of the Darkness collection, Springsteen explained, "The Darkness blueprint was really nice, but it depends what you have. With Darkness we both found a great old concert and we cut the thing again in Asbury Park with just the band, and there was a lot of music, much more than I ever thought I had, unreleased. A lot of it depends on what you have when you go back in the vault and you start to see what was around from that period of your work life. That sort of shapes the project and shapes how it's presented. I'm kind of going record by record, a little bit. That's something we're working on. If we have enough, it'll happen. If there's not enough there, then it wouldn't.”
He went on to say: "There's just a lot of things. I kinda keep all these things wide open. I'm in search of the context for different things to be released, and what feels right, timing-wise. What feels like it'll be interesting to your fans at a certain moment, or what feels like you need to do at a particular time. Or it's just interesting to you. This is all the way that I work now. It involves all of these things and all of these ideas, going on all of the time.”
For Springsteen, who was first signed to Columbia Records in 1972, his career has seemed to go from strength-to-strength over the decades. We asked him why he remains a vital songwriter and performer decades after breaking on the scene: "I don't know. I've tried to keep my focus on the music that I was making. I tried not to get distracted. I had a lot of models that came before me that I could see how people made mistakes. But I think that. . . but the kind of mistakes where you lose your center and you lose track of the work that you're doing and the music you're making. I've tried to do it well that I continue to have a voice for my fans and I'm able to look into the world and experience and translate what I see in a productive fashion."