Jayhawks bandleader Gary Louris is quite pleased with his past, which is being celebrated with three deluxe bonus-track reissues from his Minneapolis outfit: 1997’s “Sound of Lies,” 2000’s “Smile” and 2003’s “Rainy Day Music,” which the group is backing on a tour that hits The City this week (minus longtime member Mark Olson). It’s the future that’s giving him pause these days. “I’m trying to find a manager, because I’ve been without one for three years – I got out of rehab over two years ago, and I’ve rebooted my entire life,” says the singer, who is also juggling two side projects, as yet unnamed, one with The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins, another with Tonic’s Emerson Hart. And The Jayhawks may record again soon – he’s not sure.
How have you rebooted everything?
Well, it takes a while to figure out how to live differently. I’ve had no problem with being sober, but I’ve had trouble figuring out how to reinvent myself in a way that will be true to myself, and also push me into uncomfortable new spots, creatively. I’ve been learning new ways to work.
What new methods have you chosen?
I’ve been learning ways to deconstruct, learning a lot about software, different programs that will serve me better, if I want to do more art-type pieces or soundscapes. So I have a whole pile of regular Gary Louris songs, and then I have these experimental pieces, and I don’t know if I’m going to meld them into one record or put two different records out.
How did you wind up in rehab? And what was your poison?
Opiates, really. Opiates and drinking. And you start to figure out something’s wrong, I think, when you’re standing on the ledge on the 10th floor of a Los Angeles hotel at midnight, and you’re kind of thinking about jumping. There were a few instances like that. And I tried to work through it, but I started repeating songs onstage and falling over backstage. This organization called MusiCares really saved my life – they sent me to this place called Crossroads in Antigua, and it’s been great ever since.
To Jayhawks fans, you’re probably the last guy on Earth who would have a substance-abuse problem.
Yeah. But you’ve always got to watch out for those people who seem too normal. Like the serial killer, where everyone says, “He seemed like such a nice guy, really quiet and easygoing!” So I’ve been trying to figure out who I am, how I’m going to work and what I’m going to do. And I couldn’t get away from The Jayhawks – that’s what I’m defined by. But then I started realizing that we were really lucky to have had what we had.
IF YOU GO
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 8
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com