Sufjan Stevens’s The Age Of Adz gave him his career’s best sales week yet. Billboard reports that it debuted at number 7 on the Billboard 200. That’s 36,000 copies sold last week. This is good news for Sufjan and Asthmatic Kitty, especially after what seems like a very difficult year for Stevens:
Exclaim magazine interviewed him after some comments he made at his Toronto show. He reveals that he “… had some serious health issues that were really confusing and mysterious and debilitating.” He was forced to stop working on music and deal with his medical issues. He says The Age Of Adz comes out of having to cope with his body. “That’s why I think the record’s really obsessed with sensation and has a hysterical melodrama to it.” He elaborated a bit more on the effects of his illness, though he didn’t get too specific:
Yeah, it was really confusing and catastrophic in a lot of ways because it was a virus I had that affected my nervous system and I no longer had control of my responses to circumstances and events. I had this hyper-adrenaline and was in chronic pain. I had to go and see neurologists and physical therapists and do all of these tests. The nervous system, the brain and spinal cord are so mysterious, profound and beyond our understanding. When you’re not well and your body has these traumatic responses to illness, it takes so long to recover from that and have your body restore itself. It took months and months and months. It was really bizarre.
In our Premature Evaluation of The Age Of Adz we said “…all the squelching and scattered beats sound more organic than past albums, the way they flutter and burst sounds like nerves and anxiety being worked out.” Sounds like that was more literal than we knew. Stress kills, guys. I’ve been reading a lot about karōshi, which means “death from overwork” in Japanese and is an actual statistical category they use when doing mortality rates. All the hormones that protect you in short term stress situations weaken your immune system and/or attack your own nervous system when they run rampant long term. Stevens’s last quote, that he is “… much more conscious of myself and my health and have a much lower threshold in terms of my workload,” also points to overwork and overstress as a contributing factor. So go outside this weekend (after you finish your album).
[Photo by Denny Renshaw]