How do you know you might be in serious trouble, healthwise?
Jason Pierce can offer a few tips: Like losing 100 pounds in the space of a few weeks, for one. Or having a priest stop by your hospital bed to administer last rites, at the same time your family is being slotted in for grief-counseling sessions.
Not to mention, of course, having doctors officially declare you flatline-dead on the operating table. Twice.
All of which the 42-year-old Spiritualized frontman — who is back on his feet and appearing with Spiritualized at the Treasure Island Music Festival today — experienced in the last few harrowing years.
The space-rocker’s latest ethereal outing “Songs In A & E” isn’t referencing keys. Accident & Emergency is the London hospital unit where he wound up one night in 2005, initially suffering from a shortness of breath.
He’d already ignored several grim symptoms, he admits.
“I came back from Barcelona — I was playing records in a club over there — and I remember thinking ‘Security is going to pull me over here because I’m not looking too good.’ I was like the walking dead — I looked pretty shocking. And I guess some time around then I thought … something’s not right.”
The diagnosis was double pneumonia. Pierce was transferred to intensive care. And even then, as he faded in and out of consciousness, he heard music in the blipping, beeping machines that kept him alive.
“And it took a long time to get over, because I’d lost a lot of weight,” he recalls. “So I went down, hit the edge, and then came back, and it took maybe a year in all to get to where I felt like I was back, like I was OK again.”
Ironically, the tracks the composer had been working on, pre-illness — such as “Soul on Fire” and “Death Take Your Fiddle” — all dealt with mortality.
But he simply couldn’t finish them at first. He could barely write at all.
His salvation came from an unusual source — film director Harmony Korine, who assigned him the soundtrack for his new drama “Mister Lonely.”
Pierce got to work. “It was a no-loss situation,” he says. “Because even if it wasn’t working for Harmony, there were still these amazing pieces of music coming out of me, and I was producing a lot of ’em.” A half-dozen of them appear on “A & E” as “Harmony, 1-6.”
IF YOU GO
Treasure Island Music Festival
Featuring: Spiritualized, Tegan & Sara, Vampire Weekend, The Kills, The Raconteurs
Where: Treasure Island; shuttle from AT&T Park parking lot provided
When: Spiritualized at 4:30 p.m. today