Okkervil River Announces New Album ‘Away’

Posted on May. 19 2016

PRE-ORDER ‘AWAY’ COMING SEPTEMBER 9 VIA ATO RECORDS & CADENCE MUSIC

A statement from Okkervil River’s Will Sheff:

The new Okkervil River album is called Away. I didn’t plan to make it and initially wasn’t sure if it was going to be an Okkervil River album or if I’d ever put it out. I wrote the songs during a confusing time of transition in my personal and professional life and recorded them quickly with a brand new group of musicians. I got together the best New York players I could think of, people whose playing and personalities I was fans of and who came more out of a jazz or avant garde background, and we cut the songs live in one or two takes – trying to keep things as natural and immediate as possible – over three days in a studio on Long Island that hosts the Neve 8068 console which recorded Steely Dan’s Aja and John Lennon’s Double Fantasy. I asked Marissa Nadler to sing on it and got the composer Nathan Thatcher to write some beautiful orchestral arrangements, we recorded them with the classical ensemble yMusic and then I mixed the record with Jonathan Wilson out in Los Angeles.

2013-2015 had been a strange time for me. I lost some connections in a music industry that was visibly falling apart. Some members of the Okkervil River backing band left, moving on to family life or to their own projects. I spent a good deal of time sitting in hospice with my grandfather, who was my idol, while he died. I felt like I didn’t know where I belonged. When there was trouble at home, a friend offered me her empty house in the Catskills where I could go and clear my head. New songs were coming fast up there, so I set myself the challenge of trying to write as many as possible as quickly as possible. I wasn’t thinking about any kind of end product; the idea was just to write through what I was feeling, quickly and directly. Eventually, I realized I was writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new.

“Okkervil River R.I.P.” and “Call Yourself Renee” are good emotional transcriptions of that time. I wrote the latter on psylocibin mushrooms on a beautiful afternoon in early fall in the Catskills. I wrote “The Industry” quickly after getting some bad news. “Comes Indiana Through the Smoke” is an anthem for the battleship my grandfather served on during the Pacific Theater of World War II. Before becoming a private school Headmaster, my grandfather was also a jazz musician; he paid his way through college as a bandleader, toured with Les Brown and His Band of Renown, and spent summers playing a residency at a NH lakeside gay dance club called The Jungle Room that kept live monkeys in the basement. (You can hear his actual trumpet on this song, played by C.J. Camarieri from yMusic.) “Judey on a Street” is a love song, sunny but written late at night when the woods are maximum spooky. We cut “She Would Look for Me” pretty shapelessly, with a lot of improvisation, and it’s also a love song. “Mary on a Wave” is about the feminine aspect of God but is in a very masculine tuning: DADDAD. It’s also a love song. I wrote “Frontman in Heaven” in an obsessive three-day streak of writing for 14 hours, going to bed, getting up and writing again. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I wrote “Days Spent Floating (in the Halfbetween)” by just jotting down the first sentence that popped into my head every morning in October immediately after I opened my eyes. At the end of the month I had a finished song. It was recorded as an afterthought as the last thing we did when they were about to kick us out of the studio. You can hear me flub some lyrics. But one take and we had it.

I think this record was me taking my life back to zero and starting to add it all back up again, one plus one plus one. Any part that didn’t feel like it added up I left out. Weirdly, it was the easiest and most natural record I’ve ever made. More than any time in my life before, I felt guided by intuition – like I was going with the grain, walking in the direction the wind was blowing. The closer it got to being finished, the more the confusion I’d felt at the start went away. It’s not really an Okkervil River album and it’s also my favorite Okkervil River album.

Will Sheff
May 2016

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‘Away’ Track List:
1. Okkervil River R.I.P.
2. Call Yourself Renee
3. The Industry
4. Comes Indiana Through The Smoke
5. Judey On A Street
6. She Would Look For Me
7. Mary On A Wave
8. Frontman In Heaven
9. Days Spent Floating (In The Halfbetween)

Okkervil River 2016 Tour Dates:
6/30 @ Stubb’s Bar-B-Q (Outdoors) in Austin, TX%
7/01 @ The Bomb Factory in Dallas, TX%
7/02 @ White Oak Music Hall in Houston, TX%
7/03 @ Aztec Theater in San Antonio, TX%
7/14 @ Port City Music Hall in Portland, ME
7/15 @ 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH
7/16 @ Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY
7/17 @ Higher Ground in Burlington, VT
7/20 @ National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY
9/14 @ The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA*
9/15 @ The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA*
9/16 @ Theatre Fairmount in Montreal, QC
9/19 @ 9:30 Club in Washington, DC*
9/20 @ Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC*
9/21 @ Terminal West at King Plow Arts Center in Atlanta, GA*
9/23 @ 1884 Lounge in Memphis, TN*
9/24 @ One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans, LA*
9/30 @ The Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ*
10/01 @ Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, CA*
10/04 @ Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, CA
10/05 @ The Independent in San Francisco, CA
10/07 @ Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR*
10/08 @ Neptune Theatre in Seattle, WA*
10/10 @ Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, UT*
10/11 @ Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO*
10/13 @ Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis, MN*
10/14 @ Metro in Chicago, IL#
10/15 @ The Magic Bag in Ferndale, MI^
10/16 @ Mr. Small’s Theatre in Millvale, PA^
10/18 @ Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA^
10/30 @ Parkteatret in Oslo, Norway
10/31 @ Pustervik in Gothenburg, Sweden
11/02 @ Debaser Strand in Stockholm, Sweden
11/03 @ Vega in Copenhagen, Denmark
11/04 @ Rolling Stone Weekender in Weissenhauser Strand, Germany
11/05 @ Paradiso Nord in Amsterdam, Holland
11/07 @ Petit Bain in Paris, France
11/08 @ Botanique Rotonde in Brussels, Belgium
11/10 @ Islington Assembly Hall in London, UK
11/11 @ Thekla in Bristol, UK
11/12 @ Gorilla in Manchester, UK
11/13 @ Stereo in Glasgow, UK
*with Landlady
#with Lip Talk
^with Landlady & Lip Talk
%with Shovels & Rope, Matt Vasquez, and Girl In A Coma

More Info on Okkervil River
okkervilriver.com
facebook.com/okkervilriver
twitter.com/okkervilriver
instagram.com/okkervilriver