Strand of Oaks anchor Timothy Showalter has learned one crucial lesson about the music business: Don’t get comfortable, because life has plenty of curveballs coming your way. First came his 2014 breakthrough “HEAL,” a record whose majestic sound was inspired by a near fatal Christmas 2013 car collision with two semis. With 2017’s “Hard Love,” things got more weird; he became so disconnected from his career that he barely noticed when, the next year, his label released “Harder Love,” an expanded edition. By then he was ready to quit, sad news that reached the members of My Morning Jacket, who staged an intervention by forcing him into the studio to record with them. Showalter rose to the occasion with Strand of Oaks’ thoughtful, self-recriminating “Eraserland,” which puts him back on anthemic track.
You were actually ready to leave the industry?
I think I tied too much of myself into what the band does. I had my own identity for 31 years of my life, of hobbies and interests and things that defined me, and then it just became Strand of Oaks. But when I begin to equate what the band is doing with myself? That’s much more serious, and it caught up to me, and I had to re-evaluate everything. Like, “Who am I? And why am I doing all this?” And that’s the question of the new record. The first line is, “I don’t feel it anymore,” and then the last line is, “I hope it never ends.”
How did you spend those depressed days?
It was more of a staring-into-the-void thing, combined with long walks in Philadelphia. Even when I’ve been run down in the past, I always had enough gasoline to at least start the engine. But this time I just didn’t have any. But I’ve got a good partner in my wife, and she really helped me get my s—- together. She was aware things were not going good, and she was worried, and she was the reason I went to the beach in New Jersey to write these songs in the winter. She said, “You need to leave now — just get out of the house and go do this.” My wife also named the album.
And your manager actually got a surprise call from My Morning Jacket, saying that they’d booked studio time for you?
It was news to all of us. But — just out of pure goodness — they hade it happen. Jim James wasn’t there, of course, but he was there in spirit — we talked right before recording, and he thought it was a really good idea.
IF YOU GO
Strand of Oaks
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $18 to $29
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.com