By Craig Rosen
NEW YORK (Billboard) – It feels like the first time. So says Alanis Morissette about her new album, “So-Called Chaos.” And Guy Oseary, CEO of Maverick Recording, Morissette’s label, couldn’t agree more.
The new album arrives in the United States May 18 on Maverick (through WEA Distribution) and May 17 in international markets. It is Morissette’s fourth studio set. That number does not include her teen-pop albums released prior to her international stardom or her “Unplugged” and “Feast on Scraps” odds-and-ends set.
The sense of calm from the artist and the excitement from the label surrounding the release is reminiscent of “Jagged Little Pill,” Morissette’s 1995 landmark Maverick debut.
“I have the same relaxed feeling around it,” Morissette says. ” relative to the other records, where maybe I was a little freaked out by some of the subject matter I was singing about or the time in my life it was happening. I wasn’t very relaxed. Around ‘Jagged Little Pill,’ interestingly enough, there was a real sense of peace right before I released it.”
BUILDING A CAREER
Even with such similarities, it’s unlikely that kind of cultural lightning will strike twice, and that’s something Morissette and her team are well aware of. Instead of trying to duplicate the 30 million worldwide sales of “Jagged Little Pill” (14.2 million in the United States alone), they’ve been busy building Morissette into a career artist.
Sales of Morissette’s subsequent releases, while not matching “Pill,” have racked up impressive numbers.
“Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie” (1998) sold 8 million worldwide and 2.6 million in the United States. “Unplugged” (1999) sold 4 million worldwide and 584,000 in the United States. 2002’s “Under Rug Swept” sold 3 million worldwide and 982,000 in the United States.
All that’s just fine for Morissette, who will co-headline a summer tour with Barenaked Ladies.
“I just really see both sides of it,” she says. “If I could sell 500 million records every time, it would be great. But I’ve also had the luxury experience of having it when I was a teenager, in a very kind of model version of it.
“I had a record out when I was 16 that was very successful in Canada,” she explains. “Then I had the sophomore experience selling less records. So I understood the relativity and the pressure for the follow-up record.”
With that experience under her belt, Morissette says she knew what to expect when releasing “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.”
On “Under Rug Swept,” Morissette produced the entire album on her own for the first time, and she wrote and recorded enough material to fill 2003’s interim CD/DVD release, “Feast on Scraps.” This time around, however, she knew how and when to pull back enough to make the writing and recording process a more enjoyable experience.
“In the past, I had workaholic issues,” she says. “Over the last couple of years, I’ve really worked toward balancing my life out more, having a little bit more time with friends, family and my boyfriend. There was a period of time when they were way down the list. It was all about music and touring and if everything fell by the wayside, so be it.
“Over the last couple of years,” she continues, “I’ve seen the fulfillment and more consistent joy I have when I’m more balanced. I didn’t want to be in the studio at four in the morning every night.”
To avoid recording an abundance of material for “So-Called Chaos,” Morissette focused on editing herself as she wrote.
“Unless I really loved it and felt really passionate about it, I would just kind of abort the song and start a new one,” she says. “By the time I reached the 11th song or so, my gut kicked in and said, ‘OK, I’m done.’
“I knew I could stay in the studio and write 10 or 11 more songs, but all that would result in would be another ‘Feast on Scraps.’ I don’t need that — I have dinner parties to host.”