In June, Thalia Zedek played her first gig in 18 months, with her trio, E. Their aptly titled 2020 album, “Complications,” had been left in pandemic limbo, so during lockdown, Zedek got busy on a new record with her bluesy indie rock outfit, Thalia Zedek Band.
On Jan. 6, 2021 — yes, that Jan. 6 — Zedek was in Rhode Island’s Machines with Magnets studio mixing the 10 tracks for “Perfect Vision” with engineer/producer Seth Manchester, while occasionally checking her phone for updates from the US Capitol. “But then we carried on with the mixing,” she says. “It was an intense time.”
Before “Perfect Vision” is released on Aug. 27 by Zedek’s longtime label Thrill Jockey, she will dip back 20 years with a remastered-for-vinyl reissue of Thalia Zedek Band’s debut album, “Been Here and Gone,” out July 23. A reissue release show at Jamaica Plain’s Midway Cafe on Saturday unites the original album’s core band lineup of David Michael Curry, Chris Brokaw, Daniel Coughlin, and Mel Lederman. A record release show for “Perfect Vision,” meanwhile, is set for Sept. 3 at the Middle East in Cambridge.
Topping off Zedek’s reopening is the reissue of her ’90s band Come’s back catalog on vinyl, beginning this fall. But it’s safe to say Zedek isn’t looking back: She’s been here, and is still here. Case in point: Zedek, chatting recently from her home in Allston, announced a return to the studio that weekend to record a new EP with E.
Q. Did you plan these album releases as your artistic reopening plan?
A. It wasn’t quite like that. Last year was going to be an E year, but then everything got shut down. I had almost half of “Perfect Vision” already written. I thought: I’m just going to finish this. I learned how to use GarageBand. I had just kept putting it off and then I had a lot of spare time — like most musicians did. I was trying to keep occupied, because I knew eventually things were going to start up again.
Q. How did mixing the record on the day of the Capitol insurrection go?
A. I remember at one point us looking at our phones and thinking: Oh my God! What is going on? They’re storming Congress.
Q. Was it distracting?
A. It wasn’t. At that point, things were so messed up, I was like, this makes me more determined to finish the record. I have been operating with a sense of urgency the past couple of years. Even before the pandemic, there was the stuff with Trump and the government. The record got done with less messing around and shooting the breeze in the studio than there would normally have been. It was like, who knows, tomorrow we might be under martial law. Let’s just get this done.
Q. With the reissue of “Been Here and Gone,” you dip back 20 years to the beginning of your solo career.
A. That record has an interesting story as well: Our first rehearsal was in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. I was literally on the Chinatown bus just outside the city when everyone’s phones started lighting up. It was nuts. Once again, music saves you: We didn’t know what else to do. We were like, let’s just rehearse.
Q. Would you describe “Perfect Vision” as your pandemic album?
A. A few songs reference that. I don’t think a lot of the songs were about the pandemic per se. If I think back on the second half of 2020, I was equally if not more freaked out by what else was going on. There’s definitely a lot of political comments and what was on my mind watching the past administration — even right up to the end and not knowing what would happen. The pandemic was scary, but for the United States it wasn’t the scariest thing.
Q. Do you have any favorite moments from making “Perfect Vision”?
A. My favorite part was working with musicians I’ve never played with before. Alison Chesley, who performs under the name Helen Money, played cello and piano on “Smoked” and “Tolls.” Pedal steel guitar player Karan Zarkisian on “Cranes.” Also, Brian Carpenter, who played trumpet on “From the Fire,” who I’ve known for a long time and is really talented. Musicians were trying to keep busy like me and not fall into depression. [Laughs] In a normal year I would feel more guilty about reaching out to them.
Q. How was it stepping onstage again?
A. It felt a little strange, because it’s still pretty new to walk into a place and not wear a mask. I still wear one when I go to the grocery store. It’s a strange time but I’m enjoying it. When I booked the first show in June I thought: Oh, I gotta get some guitar strings. I went into the music shop and said, “Hey, I’ve got my first show in 18 months. I need strings!” and everyone started cheering.
Interview was edited and condensed.
THALIA ZEDEK BAND
At the Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain. July 17, doors 7:30 p.m. 21+ show. $10. 617-524-9038, midwaycafe.com