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 Perform “Rider” on The Late Show With David Letterman


On Friday night Okkervil River returned to the small screen to make their second television appearance of the year. This time the band played on The Late Show with David Letterman, and filled the stage with players who helped deliver a lively performance of “Rider.”  If you missed it the first time be sure to check out the re-run above!

Under The Radar Charity Auction for Japan Features lots of Okkervil River Goodies

Under The Radar is currently holding a charity auction to benefit the relief effort in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the nation. Among the items being auctioned are three copies of the poster above autographed by each band that played UTR’s SXSW party this year, including Okkervil River, Menomena, Owen Pallett, Porcelain Raft, Surfer Blood and more. Other Okkervil River rarities and more items donated by the participating bands are also included in the auction. The bidding ends tomorrow at 10am (PST). Check out more info and links to the items being auctioned off at Under The Radar’s website HERE.

 

Okkervil River’s I Am Very Far Out Today! Stream The Full Album On Spinner

Okkervil River’s new album I Am Very Far is available in stores today! The album has been met with wide critical praise from Spin Magazine calling Will Sheff “Dylan for the Facebook generation” to the New York Times calling it the “most musically ambitious [album] yet released by Mr. Sheff and his crew.” Check out the Pitchfork review HERE, and all this week you can stream the full album on Spinner HERE. You can also catch Okkervil River performing live on WNYC’s Soundcheck tomorrow (May 11), and on David Letterman this Friday (May 13).

Starting May 31 Okkervil River head out on tour in North America with a supporting cast of openers that includes Titus Andronicus, Julianna Barwick, Future Islands, and New Villager. You can check out full tour dates HERE.

 

LISTEN: Okkervil River Perform “I Am Very Far” Tonight Live On NPR

Tonight NPR Music will stream Okkervil River performing their new album I Am Very Far live in its entirety at The Cactus Cafe in Austin, TX. Starting at 6pm (Central)/ 7pm (Eastern) NPR music will stream the audio/video webcast live online. Later that evening KUT-FM will broadcast the performance and make the video webcast available on demand for a limited time. You can tune in 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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