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The Airborne Toxic Event

Formed by novelist/musician Mikel Jollett, the Airborne Toxic Event combine post-punk and literate indie rock with real literary cred. Emerging in 2008 with a lush synthesis of guitars, keyboards, and classical strings, the band found success with their sophomore effort, 2011's All at Once, which rose to the number 17 slot on the Billboard Albums chart. In 2020 the band issued their sixth LP, Hollywood Park, which served as the musical soundtrack to Jollett's memoir of the same name. Founded in 2006 by Mikel Jollett during a tumultuous period in his life -- he was born into Synanon, an experimental community in Santa Monica that eventually turned into a violent cult -- the Airborne Toxic Event was named after a section in American author Don DeLillo's novel White Noise. The group initially took shape as a Los Angeles-based duo, with Jollett and drummer Daren Taylor serving as the only members. A roster expansion was eventually needed; as a result, classically trained violinist Anna Bulbrook was brought in to play viola and keyboards, jazz bassist Noah Harmon joined up, and the empty guitar slot was filled by Steven Chen. The band's first show as the Airborne Toxic Event took place in fall of 2006 and was followed by a regional rise to stardom, attracting offers from indie labels and accolades from magazines like Rolling Stone. Riding the wave of industry buzz, the Event released their first EP and accompanying single (both titled Does This Mean You're Moving On?) in 2007, which only helped to heighten the band's standing in the indie scene. They signed with Majordomo Records in 2008 and released their self-titled first album, The Airborne Toxic Event, later that year. "Sometime Around Midnight" became a Top Ten modern rock hit, prompting Island Records to sign the band in early 2009. Two years later, the Airborne Toxic Event -- now signed to the same label as one of their major influences, U2 -- issued their sophomore release, All at Once, their most successful outing to date. A third album, Such Hot Blood, arrived on the label in 2013; it peaked at 27 on the Billboard 200. During 2014, the Event replaced bassist Noah Harmon with Adrian Rodriguez and jumped from Island Records to Epic. Their first album for their new label, the electro-pop-leaning Dope Machines, saw release in February 2015, as did the all acoustic Songs of God and Whiskey, the latter of which was released exclusively on the group's website. Anna Bulbrook left the fold in 2019 ahead of the arrival of their sixth long-player, 2020's Hollywood Park, which served as a companion piece to Jollett's memoir.
© Chris True & James Christopher Monger /TiVo


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