Brian Setzer Strips Down, Comes Back

Following the Brian Setzer Orchestra's successful big band styled albums, The Dirty Boogie and Vavoom!, the singer and guitarist's upcoming CD finds Setzer stripped-down and regrouped with only BSO drummer Bernie Dresel and slap bassist Mark W. Winchester.

Dubbed '68 Comeback Special, this rockabilly trio harks back to Setzer's days as part of the Stray Cats in the 1980s, with an album of all-new material, Ignition, released June 12 on Californian indie, Surfdog Records.

"It's back to my roots in a strange kind of way," Setzer tells Wall of Sound. "Don't know about Stray Cats … which wouldn't be a bad thing. It just feels like songs I've written in a trio format."

Though the '90s swing revival BSO rode to great success is now on the trend junk pile, Setzer's main reason for recording a rockabilly set was to simplify the recording process.

"Basically I kinda looked in my drawer and thought, I've got a bunch of songs here," he says speaking from his home in Malibu. "I thought I just couldn't go through the big Interscope record company thing again. Taking a year and a half to make a record and all the nonsense they put you through. I just wanted to make a real kick-ass rockabilly record. I wanted to take these songs and just cut 'em. Make the record in a week and a half like I'm used to doing."

Setzer's association with Surfdog goes back a few years: The label is owned by Setzer's manager, Dave Kaplan, and BSO previously added songs to the label's Music For Our Mother Ocean benefit compilations. Technically though, Setzer is currently label-less .

"I feel I'm at that point in my life now I can do what I want. For instance, this record is really the first time I've done a record the way I wanted with no record company hovering over me. There's always been a record company down your neck you know? I just did it — nobody bothered me — and had a ball doing it."

Though '68 Comeback Special — which kicks off a three month summer tour beginning June 15 in Saratoga, Calif. — will take precedence this summer, Setzer says BSO is far from over.

"I don't want to let it go you know? It's transcended that movement in a lot of ways and I'm still able to keep it going." BSO's annual show at Los Angeles' Greek Theater will go ahead on Aug. 4, and the band will play a residency at Atlantic City's Caesar's Casino in New Jersey, July 13-15.

"I sell it out every year," says Setzer of the Greek Theater. "It's a big event."

As for the band's evocative name, that's down to Setzer's still-strong love for the King: "That was Elvis's big comeback. Because only people who are into my kind of music will know what that is, it was kind of an insider deal."