Singer/guitarist Keith Slettedahl is a happy-go-lucky guy, as witnessed by his band the 88's irresistibly upbeat lyrics and catchy hooks. But the last couple of years were a little dark for the serenely-married Pasadena dad. The band got signed and dropped by Island Records. But they did manage to land on soundtracks for TV shows such as How I Met Your Mother and
OC Weekly (Arrissia Owen Turner): Why do I feel like we're breaking up? On your second CD, 2005's Over and Over, we were seduced and you were full of love and life. Then on 2008's Not Only … But Also things seemed a little rocky? The most recent 88 release, This Must Be Love, seems kind of sad. Are things looking up for the next round of songs?
Keith Slettedahl: I grew up listening to a million songs about a girl or love and that influenced me. Sometimes an idea just sounds cool in a song, so it's not always literal. The rocky relationship was with our label. It wasn't a creatively satisfying experience. For This Must Be Love, I would go home from the studio and do whatever I wanted. But the next one is going to be a real band record. That's what I am looking forward to doing. As far as the subject matter, I knew that we were not in the right situation. Songs are sometimes written when I'm in a bad mood. It's just a snapshot of the moment. No one puts a gun to your head though. We could have easily walked away. When we signed, my wife was pregnant. It was probably all financial if I'm being totally honest with myself. You grow up with this dream in your head of a record deal. We had reached this goal, but it wasn't what I thought it would be. We had to get through that to remember why we got into this business. For me, at 36, now I know that it's OK to still have fun playing music. I lost that along the way somewhere.