The Afghan Whigs, who made considerable noise in the alt-rock world a quarter-century ago, have changed since reforming in 2013 – and so has frontman Greg Dulli.
The singer-songwriter still sounds intense, but he’s evolved. “In Spades,” the indie-rock act’s latest album, is much like 2013’s “Do to the Beast,” with less guitar power and keyboards and more strings. The album is mellower, but so is Dulli, who says he’s comfortable in his own skin at the age of 52.
“I’m a more grateful person than I used to be,” Dulli says, calling from his Los Angeles home. “I’ve gotten more perspective with age and experience. You travel the world a few times and you experience the good and the bad. It’s had an impact on the music.”
That traveling will take the band to the Hopscotch Music Festival in downtown Raleigh this weekend. They’re slated to perform early Saturday – 12:30 a.m. at the Lincoln Theater.
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“Festivals are a good time,” Dulli says. “I have a lot of good memories in Raleigh, and we’ll make some new ones soon.”
The Afghan Whigs’ latest albums sound more like Dulli’s soulful side project, The Twilight Singers. It’s worth noting that bassist John Curley is the only other original member of the Afghan Whigs who is part of the present band.
Guitarist Dave Rosser died in June of inoperable colon cancer; he had been with the band since 2014
“He wasn’t in the band for very long but he made such an impact,” Dulli said. “He’s on every song. The album wouldn’t sound the same without him. We think about him every day.”
“In Spades” is a reflection of where the band is at this moment, Dulli says.
“We made this album as a group, with all of us in a room,” he said. “We haven’t made an album like this since we made ‘Black Love’ 20-some years ago. I don’t want to repeat what we did when we made our albums during the ’90s. If you’re not AC/DC or The Ramones, you gotta change it up.”
The project is eclectic but cohesive. The Afghan Whigs can still get muscular and rock, but the group has no problem dialing it down with some moody, atmospheric cuts.
Dulli remains a compelling figure years after creating some of the group’s finer alt-rock of the early ’90s with such albums as “Congregation” and “Gentlemen.” The Afghan Whigs’ peak material, which is full of angst and self-loathing, still sounds relevant.
“I think people can still relate to what I was singing about back then, and the songs still sound good,” Dulli says. “We still play songs from ‘Congregation.’ I look back at each of those records as a snapshot to where we were. We’ll revisit that material, but I’m incapable of ever writing like I did in the ’90s.”
With a catalog spanning eight albums, it’s not easy for Dulli to make up a set list.
“It’s tough considering how I look at things from a fan’s point of view,” Dulli says. “When I go to see the Rolling Stones and they don’t play ‘Satisfaction’ and they play a cooler song, I absolutely love it. For me, I love it when some deep tracks are tossed in. So when I make up the set list, I consider how I feel. Would you rather me play something I really want to play or something that you would expect that I’ll phone in?”
Dulli is now sounding like the angst-ridden kid who grew up playing punk in a Cincinnati garage during the ’80s. “Some of that person, who I was, will come to the surface, but I swear I’ve changed,” Dulli says.
It’s true. Dulli, who is a huge baseball fan, grew up rooting for Cincinnati’s beloved Reds. Now Dulli has embraced the juggernaut LA Dodgers, who were once the Reds’ bitter rival.
“I’m going to a Dodgers game tonight,” Dulli says. “I’m a huge fan of this team. That’s where I am today. I have no apologies. I’m looking ahead.”
What: The Afghan Whigs appear at the Hopscotch Music Festival. Opening acts start at 9:30 p.m. with Acid Chaperone, Museum Mouth and Preoccupations.
When: Sept. 9, 12:30 a.m.
Where: Lincoln Theater, 126 E. Cabarrus St.
Cost: $45-$349. Single-day passes and weekend passes are sold.