Pokey LaFarge Bares All About His New Album ‘Manic Revelation’

Pokey LaFarge is back with his seventh album, “Manic Revelation,” and he experiments with even bigger sounds than before. The St. Louis native continues to make waves as he is known for his complex, yet relevant and relatable sound for his listeners. Entertainment Voice caught up with LaFarge, and he spoke on why he’s inspired by more than music, his first single “Riot in the Street,” and even stepping into the acting spotlight.

Your latest album, “Manic Revelation,” is the seventh for you. How is this one different from your first albums?

This record was more or less kind of about rebooting the system – tearing yourself apart to build yourself back up again. I don’t ever like to think of anything as a start and a stop. I kind of see everything as sort of concurrent. But if I had to mark a change, I would say maybe the middle part of 2015 especially. That’s when a lot of the tunes for this record started to get written. There’s always the inspiration that goes into the thinking that goes into the writing of the record.

Does the title “Manic Revelations” have a special meaning to you?

“Manic Revelations” is sort of the state of mind. You just see the way that you are and the way that you write and the way that you sing and perform and ultimately the way that you record. It’s a certain kind of mania mindset. Read between the lines of the songs with the words and the groove and the melodies and the choruses. The true meanings of them are in between and ultimately up to the listener. I enjoy writing songs that are open to interpretation, and hopefully, people enjoy them as much as I did writing them and as much I do performing them.

Your first single “Riot in the Street” is also the first song on the album. What tone did you want to set for the album by opening it with this song? 

I personally didn’t want it to be the first song, but I was outvoted. I didn’t set the tone of the record with that song. The record is more than just a song. It’s a song that that has so much narrative around it, and it may be too vulnerable to be the first song.

Was there anything that specifically inspired the lyrics for “Riot in the Street?”

I live in St. Louis. That’s all I really have to say. I live in the United States. How can you not have an opinion? That’s kind of the thing; there are so many opinions. I didn’t want to add an opinion or interject any anger into a song. There’s enough anger in this world.

What’s one moment you had while making this album that you’ll never forget?

Oh man, that’s a good question. The first thing that comes to mind is a time in the warehouse rehearsal space that I had for a couple of years. Just sitting in a hot brick room with hardwood floors with the band and playing the songs to them for the first time. Ultimately we arranged them and polished them together. Just being a part of that with my boys [was unforgettable]. That’s art. Those moments…that’s the art behind a record and what I’ll probably cherish the most.

You have said that the album is about confronting yourself and what’s going on around you. What did you experience that influenced this?

It’s that everything matters and nothing matters at the exact same time. There’s a helplessness and hopelessness in everything we do. Maybe it’s a lesson that you have to keep fighting. It’s also maybe important to not worry too much and overthink. Just be.

You tap into so many sounds from blues to jazz to ragtime. How did you develop such a vast variety? 

I listen to a lot of different music, and I have a big band, and every single one of them is completely different from the other. We’re kind of like The Village People. From their personalities to their music styles to the way they dress and where they’re from. But we’ve had long, fulfilling action-packed lives thus far and that definitely goes into it as well. Everything you are as a person will come out in your music. When people ask my influences, to look at it from a musical perspective dumbs it down. You have to give credence to the life that you’ve lived.

You are going on tour this year. What do you have planned?

I try not to plan too much. I try to let the songs and the performance and the crowd sort of just take me away. But you know, I’ve got a hot band. We’re tight. We’re hot and ready to go. We’re motivated and honored and grateful to be able to travel the world and make a living playing our songs. It would be just giving the best performance that we possibly can and hopefully leaving people breathless.

You tried your hand at acting on CMT’s “Sun Records.” What was this experience like? Would you want to do it again?

Just trying something new, you know, and seeing what comes of it. I would like to try more roles maybe. I’m not necessarily actively pursuing them but putting it out there in the universe and seeing what comes of it. I definitely enjoyed the challenge.

Manic Revelations” is available May 19 on Apple Music.