Whether Reggie and the Full Effect ringleader James Dewees is driving across the stage in a toy car (while wearing a mullet wig and tight '80s gym shorts), or littering his records with hilarious songs by fictional metal bands from Finland, he's never been one to get super serious.

But for the fourth full-length Reggie release, Songs Not to Get Married To, Dewees took a slightly surprising turn down a more introspective path. There are fewer character sketches, drunken sound clips, and songs by fake metal bands here--and a lot more honesty in their place.

"That was kind of the point, to not be a character on this record and just be myself," says Dewees. "I'm still a fucking weird person, I guess, but at the same time I'm also a human being. I do have emotions and things can bother me the way they bother everybody else. It's not like I live in a 24-hour carnival."

During the recording of Songs, Dewees' life was far from a carnival. His other band, the Get Up Kids (he plays keyboard), announced their breakup and he was also getting divorced. With all of that on his mind, he decided to make a record. "I didn't have a choice," Dewees says with a laugh.

"I just finished the Get Up Kids tour and I was soon leaving to go out with New Found Glory on the Warped Tour. I had three weeks to do the record and that was also the three weeks I was going to be in town to handle all the divorce stuff."

So instead of trying to escape into a silly Reggieland, Dewees recorded a different side of himself--a side that doesn't include wigs and fake accents. (Okay, there are still a few fake accents.)

"I wanted to keep the record separate from what was going on in my personal life and just do a Reggie record," says Dewees, "but then I found out about the Get Up Kids and it was like, 'Wow, double whammy.'"

Listening to Songs, you hear everything that went through Dewees' head--from anger to confusion to acceptance--being delivered in a wide range of genres. The songs touch on everything from metal to power pop to melancholy ballads. The standout track is "Get Well Soon," a crunchy pop song laced with Reggie's signature catchy keyboards and a chorus where Dewees repeatedly asks, "Is it getting better? Is it getting worse?"

He never gets too heartbroken to laugh, though; there are a few funny surprises in the mix too.

With all the drama hopefully behind him, Dewees is moving on to the next step--Reggie and the Full Effect's world domination.

"I've had Reggie for a long time and it does pretty well," he says. "Now I can actually put more effort into it and make it more of a real band and tour, which is something I haven't really been able to do with it in the past."

It should be fantastic. Even without the wigs. MEGAN SELING

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