The period leading up to Steel Train’s second album, “Trampoline,” was tough for frontman Jack Antonoff.
He broke up with his longtime girlfriend. His sister died. A cousin was killed in Iraq. They were hard emotional times that were channeled into the 12 songs on “Trampoline.”
“With all my favorite records and songs, the only lyrics that ever mattered were personal lyrics,” explains Antonoff, 23, who co-founded the New Jersey rock quintet in 1999 and used to date actress Scarlett Johansson. “Everything else, who (cares). The only thing you can ever do is be really specific and unique.
“To me, the only thing I know is what happened to me, and I think it’s a story worth telling. It’s important to do, and I don’t know any other way.”
Nevertheless, Antonoff acknowledges that putting that depth of feeling out for public consumption can be daunting. His solution to self-editing?
“At some point you just have to say (forget about) it,” he explains.
“You get so deep into it that to compromise anything would be pathetic,” Antonoff explains. “You make those decisions at the beginning of (your career) and you either stand by them or you don’t.
“At the beginning, I made a decision that I was just gonna be very, very honest. So now if I’m working on a song I have that feeling, and hopefully it will translate when somebody hears it.”
Steel Train performs Saturday (Jan. 26) at the Shelter, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit www. livenation.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to