Eels bandleader E (born Mark Oliver Everett) never intended to make “The Deconstruction,” his 12th album with the project. About four years ago, the Los Angeles native had given up on music, wanting to live a calm existence, without deadlines. He thought he was succeeding, until he got a text from “Mad Men” star John Slattery, who wrote, “We’re doing this thing, and do you want to come down and play the Paul McCartney song ‘Jet’?” says E, who ended up being cast as a musician dad on the Netflix series “Love” (Slattery was directing) for three seasons. Calling it terrifying, because he’s not an actor, E says, “But I got to learn from all these great stars on the set.”
You officially signed off from music?
You know, I’ve been doing this for 25 years now. But don’t take it personally; I didn’t talk to anyone for four years. It was just one of those situations where life hands you your ass, and it becomes clear to you that things have been a little too one-sided in your life, and you have to pay attention to the other sides.
Was the one side music, music, music?
Yeah. I was all music and work, and almost literally not much else. A normal person would take vacations here and there, or nurture relationships more. But I hit a wall. I became completely uninterested in creativity, and I wasn’t thinking of it as a hiatus. I was thinking of it as, ‘I’m done.” So it’s a big surprise for me to be back at it now.
Well, my goal was to work as little as possible. If I had the luxury of getting so inspired that I’d write and record a song, then I’d do it. But then I started acting in that TV show, because that didn’t feel like work. And I succeeded. I had this one magical year that was just peace and quiet.
At one point, I got married, and I became a dad at the end of it. Then my wife, pretty soon after having our son, decided to leave me, which is not how I wanted it to go. But after all that, I’m really happy, because I love being a father, even though it’s only half the time.
When did you sense it was time to record again?
For most of those four years, songwriting was only sporadic. But once it started speeding up, I started looking at the pile of songs mounting and realized there was an album forming.