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 Unplugged on Sirius XMU

Photo courtesy of New York Magazine

Okkervil River did a stunning unplugged in-studio with Sirius/XM a few weeks ago, and now it’s hitting the satellite waves. Subscribers can tune in to Sirius XMU to hear it during the scheduled times listed below; and for Okkervil fans who don’t have a subscription, try listening to the show via SiriusXM’s online free trial.  The band will be performing tracks from their new album I Am Very Far.

Okkervil on Sirius XMU schedule:
Thurs, 6/16 at 4pm ET
Fri, 6/17 at 9am ET
Sun, 6/19 at 11am ET

Also, be sure to look for the Okkervil River feature in the issue of New York Magazine on stands now. The article is also available online HERE.

Okkervil River Goes Acoustic for MTV

 

Check out Okkervil River’s stunning acoustic set for MTV Hive. Going acoustic, Okkervil plays four tracks from their new album I Am Very Far. This is really something. Watch “Hanging From A Hit” above and check out the rest of the session HERE.

Okkervil River’s “I Am Very Far” Debuts at #31 on Billboard

Okkervil River’s new album I Am Very Far entered the U.S. Billboard charts today at #31, and at #66 in the U.K. This represents Okkervil River’s first Top 40 placement in the history of their career, and the first time they’ve placed on the U.K. charts. Big CONGRATS to everybody on Team Okkervil, and especially to you, all the fans, for making this happen!

 

 

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff Talks with artist Will Schaff

“Interesting Rock Talk. No, Really.” that’s the headline at the New York Times for the above interview between Okkervil River lead singer and songwriter Will Sheff and Will Schaff the artist behind all of Okkervil River’s iconic record covers. For year’s the two have been confused as the same person, and here lies video proof that they are indeed different gentlemen. It’s a great conversation between these two artists and an interesting look into how their collaboration has worked over the years. You can also check out an in-depth interview w/ Schaff on his work with Okkervil River over the years 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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