It wasn’t that long ago Rocky Votolato all but gave up on music.
Over his 15-year career, the Seattle singer gained critical acclaim for his canon of earnest, indie-rock folk tunes. But following the release of his seventh album (2012’s “Television of Saints”), he found himself in a deep depression and insobriety. He hadn’t written a song in a year and wondered how he could continue as a musician. He gave up touring and took a job at a bookstore and worked at a software company.
“I had the wrong perspective on the process,” says Votolato.
He realized there wasn’t anything else he wanted to do. That led Votolato to get sober and seek therapy for his deteriorating mental health.
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Rocky Votolato plays in Fresno on Friday, Aug. 21.
The following months were an explosion of creativity, Votolato says.
He wrote more than 30 new songs, which are represented on his latest record “Hospital Handshakes.” The 11-track album was produced by Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla and features collaborations with other Seattle musicians including Votolato’s brother, Cody; Eric Corson of The Long Winters and Casey Foubert, who plays with Sufjan Stevens.
The album is out now at No Sleep Records.
The album comes with a refocused sense of purpose and a new perspective on what it means to be a performer. Gone are the days of thinking he was a failure because a show didn’t sell out. Now, he’s happy to perform for anyone who cares about his songs and in any capacity he can. In March, he did a Living Room tour, literally playing in his fans’ homes.
Votolato just did a daytime show at a military hospital for Zero Platoon, a nonprofit that helps active-duty soldiers battling depression and other mental health issues. The organization is sponsoring Votolato’s current tour, and the singer will visit several military hospitals along the way.
I’m learning how to relate to the creative process again.
- 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21
- Strummer’s, 833 E. Fern Ave.
- Tickets: $12, all ages
- (559) 485-5356, www.strummersclub.com