Inside Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s Next Album ‘Hypnotic Eye’

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Tom Petty (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Tom Petty (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

By Brian Ives 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are readying a new record for this summer, according to Rolling StoneThe magazine reports that Hypnotic Eye will include eleven songs; some of the titles are, at press time, “American Dream Plan B,” “Faultlines,” “Red River,” “Burn Out Town” and “Shadow People,” and that the album has been in the works since 2011.

The article says that the album harkens back to the early Heartbreakers sound of their first two albums, 1976’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and 1978’s You’re Gonna Get It. Petty says that his songwriting partner, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, told him, “You sing like you did on the first two albums.” The article notes that Petty decided against using songs that were too close to “the blues bag” of their last effort, 2010’s Mojo.

But earlier this year, when spoke with Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, promoting his solo debut, You Should Be So Lucky, denied that the album is a reaction to the sound of Mojo: “I don’t really have a ‘take’ on how it sounds. I don’t really. It sounds like the Heartbreakers to me. I don’t think the Heartbreakers need to be pinned down. It’s a very versatile band. If you catch us when we’re just in a room messing around, or if you hear some of the songs that don’t make it to a record, they encompass a really broad spectrum.  It’s a broad spectrum of things that [Petty] wrote, and that he and Mike have written for this record. How things are sequenced, and which songs are chosen will determine the nature of the record. I’m curious, too. It’s going to be a bit of a surprise to me, because I’m not producing the record.”

Related: Interview: Benmont Tench Talks Solo Album, Dylan, ‘Free Fallin’ and ‘Wildflowers’ 

The article also notes that there are some archival Petty releases in the works. One is a live album culling performances from Petty’s New York and Los Angeles residencies last year. The other will be a deluxe reissue of his 1994 solo classic, Wildflowers. Tench told us that he loves that album, but bristles at the idea that it is a Petty “solo” record.

“I’m sure there’s a reason that Tom called it a solo album. Maybe it’s a mental state he was in, you’ll have to ask Tom,” he says. “The fact is, it’s the first Heartbreakers album with the new drummer,” referring to Steve Ferrone, who has been in the band ever since. “At the time, the idea wasn’t to replace [original Heartbreakers drummer] Stan [Lynch]. Tom set out, I believe, to make a solo record, but very quickly we were all on it except for Stan. It’s a Heartbreakers record… It’s a really good record, I think it’s one of our best.”

Petty and the Heartbreakers have done a number of summer amphitheater tours over the year; with a new album in the works, are they going to hit the road in June or July?  “I hope so,” Tench says. “I miss it when we don’t [tour]. We’re close to finishing the record. Like, very close to finishing the record, as far as I can tell. And if we get it done in time, I would think we’d go play. “


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