On Blitzen Trapper’s new album Holy Smokes Future Jokes, Eric Early explores the teachings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, extinction, and grants true “rock n’ roll immortality” to Billie Jean, in an album that seems eerily related to our current global crises despite most of the songs having been written over a year and a half ago.

“All of human existence is a mixture of comedy and tragedy and everything is sort of built upon those two fundamental pillars.”

The idea that things that seem insane to us now are actually going to be jokes a hundred years from now,” says Early whose dissection of ”exaggerated self-importance is one of the primary scrutinies in the album.

The winter before writing the record, Earley began working the nightshift at a homeless shelter. The work could at times be both comical and troubling, and this experience impacted his mental state, setting the stage for the playful cynicism that pervades his songwriting.

“For me it’s a study of in between places, intermediate states,” and in order to escape the medial space, Earley suggests that “we must embrace detachment and humility”, drawing on the themes of the Tibetan Book of the Dead which he became “obsessed” with during the writing process.

In Masonic Temple Microdose #1, when ideas of passivity and self-righteousness creep in, Earley simply proposes, “Stop all this talking I’ll go fix you a drink/Yeah, let’s do the world a favor, yeah, let’s all go extinct.”

Now, a year later, the album’s examination of inbetweenness feels more fitting than ever, as our collective future hangs in limbo, much like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean who Early imagines stuck in quasi-immortality between life and death “playing bones with Brian Jones” and other dead rock stars. Hear Eric Early play “Dead Billie Jean” live from home and hear the full conversation in this Home Studio Session.