Naming a child can be a taxing task for any new parents, but for Adam Granduciel and his partner, the actor Krysten Ritter, one name for a boy stood out as a clear frontrunner. In 2018, the year before their son was born, the couple met Bruce Springsteen backstage at one of his theatre shows on Broadway. Springsteen is a longstanding hero of Granduciel’s, and a noted influence on the epic, road-trip-ready rock music he makes with his band The War on Drugs. No surprise then that Granduciel and Ritter decided to name their child Bruce, or that The Boss himself gave them his approval. “I didn’t tell him beforehand, but he knows now for sure,” says Granduciel of his son’s famous namesake. “He gets a kick out of it!”
In 2021, The War on Drugs are something of a rarity: a massively successful modern guitar band. Their last album, 2017’s A Deeper Understanding, won the Grammy for Best Rock Album, while their international tour next year will see them perform at some of the world’s biggest and most storied venues, including Madison Square Garden in New York and the O2 in London. Those grand arenas will provide a fitting home for the meticulously crafted rock songs that fill the band’s forthcoming new album, their fifth, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, which is set to be released on Friday. While their early records featured sprawling soundscapes emerging from a maelstrom of Seventies and Eighties classic rock influences, the songwriting on the new record is more direct, the lyrics more personal. It was to some extent inspired, Granduciel says, by the arrival of the younger Bruce in his world.
“Nothing will put your life into perspective like having a kid,” says the 42-year-old, speaking over the phone from Austin, Texas, where Ritter is currently filming the forthcoming HBO series Love and Death, from Big Little Lies creator David E Kelley. It’s a quirk of her celebrity that Granduciel has the curious distinction of being one of the very few grizzled, long-haired contemporary rockers to regularly be trailed by paparazzi around Los Angeles, often with Bruce under one arm. “I think it helped me understand what it means to grow up. It puts your place in your own life into a little bit of focus, and there were things that I wanted to write about as I entered fatherhood. It was a ripe opportunity to understand new facets of life.”