OKKERVIL RIVER

"The goal was to push my brain to places it didn't want to go. The idea was to not have any idea – to keep myself confused about what I was doing," frontman Will Sheff says about Okkervil River's newest album. "I produced it myself so that I could extend the songwriting process all the way through to the very last second of recording, so the songs would never really stop changing." The resulting record, 'I am Very Far,' is a startling break from anything this band has done before. By turns terrifying and joyous, violent and serene, grotesque and romantic, it's a celebration of forces beyond our control. When Okkervil River released their breakthrough 'Black Sheep Boy' in 2005, Uncut wrote that "Sheff's novelistic lyrics and the dexterous blend of country, folk and nervy indie-rock suggest a band approaching the peak of their powers." A New York Times piece on their 2007 follow-up 'The Stage Names' (and its companion album 'The Stand Ins') echoed, "Sheff writes like a novelist," and Pitchfork called him, "One of the best lyric-writers in indie rock." But on 'I am Very Far,' Sheff emerges not only as a songwriter of the highest caliber, but a producer and arranger of singular vision. Abandoning the tidy conceptual arcs of Okkervil River's previous albums, 'I am Very Far' is a monolithic, darkly ambiguous work, one that doesn't readily offer up its secrets. Work on 'I am Very Far' started in early 2009, after a year spent on the music of others. Sheff contributed vocals to The New Pornographer's album 'Together,' wrote a song for Norah Jones' 'The Fall,' produced an upcoming album for Brooklyn-based Bird of Youth, and helmed the Roky Erickson record 'True Love Cast Out All Evil,' for which his album notes received a GRAMMY nomination. "I'd never worked with Roky before and never produced someone else's record before. It was a life-changing experience," Sheff recalls, "When it was over I felt both completely drained and completely inspired." Immediately upon wrapping up work and leaving Erickson's company, Sheff drove to his home state of New Hampshire for lengthy isolated writing sessions. "I wanted to go back home and re-start writing again, like I'd never written a song previously," he says, "and I wanted the music and lyrics to be both completely wedded together and a little bit beyond my control. I kept trying to write from the state of mind of someone who had just been born, that feeling of being very young and being aware of not existing before a certain moment, which is a feeling I remember having as a kid." Sheff emerged from the writing process with 30 or so songs, which he narrowed down to 18. In contrast to Okkervil River's usual practice of holing up in one studio for months on end, he opted for a series of short, high-intensity sessions, each in a different location, each employing completely different methods than the one before it. For songs like "Rider" and "Wake and Be Fine," Sheff gathered together a massive version of Okkervil River – two drummers, two pianists, two bassists, and seven guitarists, all playing live in one room – and led them on a week of live-in-the-studio marathon session, performing a single song obsessively over and over for as many as 12 hours to capture just the right take. Songs like "Show Yourself" and "Hanging from a Hit" were worked out in improvisational sessions with the core band, minimally recorded to 8-track tape, and then re-structured and re-written in the editing process. For the strange science-fiction parable "White Shadow Waltz," Sheff self-recorded the entire song and then had Okkervil River re-record every instrumental track on top of that. After basic-tracking was done, Sheff overdubbed the songs with the band's largest instrumental palette to date – not only choral elements and orchestral colors like strings, tympani, tuba and bassoon, but also file cabinets thrown across the room, unreeled rolls of duct tape, and, on "Piratess," a solo created out of a fast-forwarding and rewinding boombox. Finishing the record from home, Sheff constantly edited and reworked the album, reinventing the song structures, re-recording vocals, re-writing until the very last minute, reshaping even the tiniest of details, ultimately creating an album that plays not only as a lush, seamless epic, but also as the most deeply personal effort of his career. What can listeners expect? Richer and weirder than 'The Stage Names' and deeper and moodier than even 'Black Sheep Boy,' 'I am Very Far' is dense, fragmented, opaque. A reverie of uncertainty, it feels at once disorienting and oddly familiar, threatening and friendly. Okkervil River have thrown away all maps and compasses but they continue to chart their way, unblinking, toward destinations unknown.

Okkervil River premiere new video for “Your Past Life as a Blast”

Pitchfork has premiered the new video from Okkervil River for their song “Your Past Life as a Blast.” Band leader Will Sheff explains:

“When I was writing the lyrics for I Am Very Far I kept fixating on the idea of being new, specifically memories of being very little and being conscious of the fact that I was a new person, that I hadn’t existed before. I kept thinking about the way the brain works when it’s not trying overly hard to put ideas or thoughts in order, either because it’s new or maybe because it’s dreaming or maybe because it’s been disarranged in some way.
The lyrics to “Your Past Life as a Blast” deal with a lot of different things and in a kind of disarranged way, but it felt to me like it was the sweetest moment on the record, a moment of nostalgia and tenderness and sunnyness. When I was writing the lyrics, certain images flashed in my head, and some of those images were specifically from my childhood, or of the way I remember earliest childhood feeling to me.
Like many kids of the late 70s and early 80s, my dad was often hovering around with a Super 8 camera, filming my mom and me and – as time passed – my younger brother and sister. I remember him projecting these movies on a bare wall and, eventually, the movies becoming as much a part of my memory as the original events he had filmed. I thought it would be cool to use actual footage of those memories in the video itself, to make a really personal kind of rock video.
For the “Your Past Life as a Blast” video, I worked with the editor Alan Del RĂ­o OrtĂ­z to turn my dad’s home movies into a short condensed film of someone’s childhood, a little home-movie music video, about moms and dads and kids, and how it felt.”

Okkervil River will also be on tour in October with dates in Australia and Europe, including stops in Perth, Sydney, Glasgow, Manchester, and London as well as a solo performance by Will at The Toff In Town in Melbourne. The band will also be making an appearance at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin on the Orange Stage. Tour dates are listed here.

Jagjaguwar is Taking Over Le Guess Who? Festival in Holland

We are pleased to announce that a number of our bands will be playing Le Guess Who? Festival this Novemeber 24-27 in Utrchet, Holland. Featured bands from the label will include Pink Mountaintops, The Besnard Lakes and Okkervil River. In addition, bands like Suuns, Nurses and Akron/Family, from our sister labels, Dead Oceans and Secretly Canadian, will also be playing the festival.

Will Sheff on Pitchfork’s 5-10-15-20

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff has a pair of interviews running right now – great Friday afternoon reading material! First you can catch up with his 5-10-15-20 interview on Pitchfork, where he talks about the music he listened to growing up and which comes with a soundtrack of Van Morrison, Everything but the Girl, Sinead O’Connor and other excellent tunage. Then flip the script & watch him dissect his own tune, “Black,” with Casey Jarman of Willamette Week in their Deep Cuts column.

Okkervil River Perform in Oslo Bookstore, Traverse the Globe


Earlier this month when Okkervil River were in Norway performing at the Oya Festival, they made a stop at the cozy Oslo bookstore Cappelens Forslag. Watch the video above of the band playing a stripped-down version of their current single “Your Past Life as a Blast” as patrons browse the store.

Okkervil will be all over the globe this fall with performances in Spain, End of the Road Festival in the UK, and Fun Fun Fun Fest in their home of Austin, TX. These are all scattered amongst a US tour in September, Australian dates in October, and finally a UK tour in November! See the full list of tour dates HERE.

Your Past Life As A Blast by Okkervil River

Your Past Life As A Blast by Okkervil River

Wake and Be Fine by Okkervil River

Lost Coastlines by Okkervil River

Wake and Be Fine by Okkervil River
It Ends With a Fall by Okkervil River
For Real by Okkervil River
Black by Okkervil River
No Key, No Plan by Okkervil River
The President's Dead by Okkervil River
Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe by Okkervil River
Lost Coastlines by Okkervil River
Pop Lie by Okkervil River

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U.S.:
Constant Artists - Ben Dickey
3780 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 930
Los Angeles, CA 90010
p: 213-738-9075
f: 213-738-9097
e: ben@constantartists.com

UK EU:
Paul Wilson
Creative Artists Agency UK Ltd
4th Floor, Space One
1 Beadon Road
London
W6 0EA
Tel : 020 8846 3000
Tel : 020 8323 8016
Email : pwilson@caa.com

Australia/New Zealand:
SPUNK - Aaron Curnow
P.O. Box 311
Cremorne, NSW
Australia
p: 612 9544-4347
www.spunkrecords.com/au
e: aaroncurnow@bigpond.com

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