The Petty Archives

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Tom Petty returns for more
By Cameron Crowe
Rolling Stone #263 -- April 20, 1978

'It's been a crazy year and a half'
LOS ANGELES -- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' new album shoud finally be out in mid-April, eighteen months after their debut LP was released. The group is completing the album in a converted apartment house on "the bad side" of Hollywood Boulevard.

"It's been a long time since our last album," Tom Petty agrees. "But it's been a crazy year and a half, you know." It began with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released without advertising at the same time as new albums from the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. There were other problems, too: a highly visible punk outfit led by ex-New York Doll Johnny Thunder was also called the Heartbreakers. "The press thought we were punks," Petty says. "Most people didn't know us at all. We were just another new group. We hadn't even toured together when we made the album. So we went out on the road ... and stayed out."

The group worked tirelessly throughout 1977, playing the States, England, and Europe. "Everything sort of popped when we were in Europe," Petty says."We came back and it had started over here, too." "Breakdown," a sinuous single that had failed once, was rerelease and this time took hold. (The song, along with Petty, who plays himself being interviewed on the air, is featured in the upcoming film FM.)

"'Breakdown' seems like ages ago," Petty says. "The whole first album was just tapes from the first week we were together."

The album was still climbing the charts when the Heartbreakers cut short their tour to begin recording the follow-up LP early this year. "We were so anxious to get in and do it," says drummer Stan Lynch, "we just went in the studio and attacked." They sequestered themselves at Shelter Studios, a dimly lit, comfortably dilapidated building. They have been playing and recording there nightly, distilling ten new tracks with producer Denny Cordell. "We're much more of a band now," Petty stresses. "It's all very balanced -- not just Tom Petty."

Petty also has renegotiated a "significantly larger" contract with ABC/Shelter to include the rest of the Heartbreakers (Mike Campbell on guitar, Ron Blair on bass, Benmont Tench on keyboards and Lynch on drums). The label has assured Petty the new album and a world tour will recieve massive support. And no one associates the Heartbreakers with punk anymore.