Posts Tagged ‘Will Sheff’

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 Am Very Far’. It’s a startling break from the band’s previous work: terrifying and joyous, violent and serene, grotesque and romantic, it’s a celebration of forces beyond our control. 

This chapter has been a long time coming; we recorded almost every show from the American and European 2018 #intherainbowrain tour so it took a long time to sort through it all. Also, the audio liner notes are…. just shy of 5 hours long? Almost a whole audiobook in themselves. I’m super proud of the music on here and so excited for you all to hear it! Thank you all so much for coming on this journey with us and if anybody’s hesitated till now climb aboard and scope out the whole thing!


I’ve had some of my most fun onstage experiences of the past few years doing the “Rarities & Requests” touring format, but because of logistics we’ve often had to restrict these shows to larger markets. Under the current quarantine situation, I thought it would be really cool to play a streaming “Rarities & Requests” show where we could open the request pool to anybody all over the world.
This will be the first Okkervil streaming show we’ve done his year, and I’m super excited about it. We’ll have more details soon on when it will air, but we wanted to open requests ASAP. So if you plan to watch start submitting requests via the request form link in the comment section! (But not in comments themselves please). Note that we’ll still be taking requests from the big cities but we’ll be giving extra weight to requests from people in towns we’ve never hit with the #raritiesandrequests format.

Releases September 18th, 2020

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“In The Rainbow Rain” will be out 27th April via the fine folks at ATO. Okkervil’s last album, Away, was my favorite Okkervil River album release for awhile. Based on this track, Sheff seems to have maintained the momentum.

Here’s some info on the album.

Will Sheff and the band started work on the new album shortly after the end of that tour – and the presidential election. “If December 2016 was good for anything, it was good for writing songs,” he says. Galvanized by the seismic events of that Fall and the following year, Sheff, sometimes co-writing with his new band, channeled his outrage and sadness into music intended to be hopeful, healing and uplifting. Inspired by the Quaker meetings he had been attending, Sheff injected the album with undercurrents of spirituality and gratitude. The result is something akin to a modern secular gospel record, and among the best music of his career.

Okkervil River “In The Rainbow Rain” out April 27th!

Okkervil River is the folk rock band led by Will Sheff. The cult band is a favourite amongst their peers as much as their own fans. The band from Austin, Texas, take their name from a short story by contemporary Russian author Tatyana Tolstaya. The band formed in 1998 and quickly released the EP Bedroom followed by the seven track EP Stars Too Small To Use the next year.

The band have released a total of seven studio albums including Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See (2002), Down The River Of Golden Dreams (2003), Black Sheep Boy (2005), The Stage Names (2007), The Stands Ins (2008), I Am Very Far  their latest album The Silver Gymnasium (2013).

2016 was the year that I suddenly felt much older than I often assume myself to be . Thankfully, such fears found a soundtrack in the beautiful new album from Okkervil River, and one that stands as Will Sheff’s best collection of songs for at least a decade or, perhaps, ever.

Happening almost by accident, after Sheff had taken himself away from the humdrum of daily life, to reflect both on the changing shape of his band, as well as the passing of his Grandfather, ‘Away’ feels markedly significant from the outset; clutching at memories from his own life, while shaping his worries and consternations about death and ageing, and the living we all have to do in-between, in to a narrative that flips between both something embracing and complex, with unbridled will. Rousing, delicate, beautiful, and haunted, ‘Away’ carries all the drama that we’ve come to know and love throughout Okkervil River’s lifetime and adorns it with a striking sense of humanity; like pumping warm blood into limbs we were just thinking might well hang cold for the rest of our days. It turns out, however, that there’s life in them yet.

Photo credit: The Horse With No Name

Will Sheff has been fronting Okkervil River for almost twenty years and fighting off an encroaching cynicism maybe even longer. One of the most sobering songwriters around, and one given to fantastical tangents and literary asides, he ponders the legacy he’ll leave behind, never quite bitter but fatalistic as he ponders the sad fates of the Force MDs and Judee Sill. When he admits, “It was a big waste,” he might be referring to their sad lives or to the energy he has spent digging into their music.

From Okkervil River’s new studio album “Away”

Jet Plane and Oxbow

Okkervil River members Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff began Shearwater as a channel for some more subdued songs they were working on together. Meiburg, whose master’s thesis at the UT geography department was on a subspecies of falcons common to the Falkland Islands, took the name from a class of migratory seabirds. Beyond his interest in ornithology, Meiberg’s prolific creative output includes writing (he’s a contributor to the literary magazine The Believer), and releasing Shearwater’s ninth(!) studio album.

Jet Plane and Oxbow, which was released on Sub Pop last month, has a particularly early 80s sound to it. Think Scary Monsters era David Bowie meets early Peter Gabriel. The new album receives an extra boon from film composer and percussionist Brian Reitzell, whose work includes the soundtracks for several Sofia Copolla films like The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. Jonathan Meiburg with Emily Lee on keys, Sadie Powers on bass, Josh Halpern on drums, and Lucas Oswald on guitar came into Studio 1A today..

Shearwater’s eighth record, will be one of 2016’s most slept-on, and that’s a shame, because this is far and away the strongest thing the band has released since 2008’s Rook, and one of their best records to date. Masterful drummer Thor Harris has departed, which is perhaps one of the reasons there are a few more electronics and programmed beats here, but the band still hits hard, with some shimmering, towering songs like “Quiet Americans” and “Filaments,” with the thundering “A Long Time Away” being quite a high watermark for the band. As usual, Jonathan Meiburg and co. know when to tone it down, as on the beautiful “Only Child” and the closing track. Meiburg’s voice is, as ever, able to be forceful and gentle, often within the same song, going from rough to tender and back again. I hope people find this record while catching up on 2016’s music output, because it would be a small tragedy for a surprisingly good record, from a band who some have sort of turned away from, went unnoticed.

Shearwater 2.3.16

In addition to a couple different nifty t-shirts, some leftover copies of Missing Islands, and of course the new album in various formats, we have TWO exclusive tour releases. You’ve heard about the Complete Island Arc digital box set before (more details and pictures at the link), but we will also have something brand new: Safe Houses, an instrumental “deconstruction and reimagination” of Jet Plane and Oxbow by our producer Danny Reisch (buy the code now, download available February. 15th). Both releases are digital, but both come with physical art objects hand-manufactured by us.

Tonight we get to see you from the stage! And vice-versa, I suppose. Let me introduce you to the band, and the band to you. At left, on keys, is Emily Lee, also of Snake Oil fame. Besides running our Instagram account, she does a mean Ozzy Osbourne. Long-time guitarist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and heartthrob Lucas Harrison Oswald and our leader Jonathan Meiburg surely needs no introduction.
To the right of JM is bassist Sadie Powers, also of Dead Fame and her own doom ambient duo project Discipline, whose secret Bowie tribute “Dolphins” is really worth hearing.
This selfie’s auteur, front and center, is our drummer Josh Halpern, whom you might have met before – he’s also a member our Austin friends Marmalakes (who are opening for us at the two Texas shows).
Not onstage but a very powerful presence: our long-time friend, sound man Jay Demko.
If you’ve seen us before, you may notice that our stage design is a little more impressive than usual – we’re doing our best to live up to the cover of Jet Plane and Oxbow.

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The last few years have been a difficult period, personally and professionally, for Okkervil River frontman, Will Sheff. He lost music industry contacts and band members, and went through the painful experience of watching his grandfather, a man he describes as his idol, die in a hospice. As is so often the case, from these difficult times, he found new inspiration, and ultimately constructed his latest album, Away, which features collaborations with Marissa Nadler and composer Nathan Thatcher, before being mixed in Los Angeles with Jonathan Wilson.

This week Okkervil River, essentially now a solo project, shared the first track from their upcoming album, entitled chillingly, Okkervil River R.I.P. Described by Will as an “emotional transcription” of this difficult period in his life, the single is a masterpiece. It beings as his emotive vocal croaks over a gently picked acoustic guitar, and from there the whole thing slowly builds; a bass pulses, a piano rolls in with a hauntingly beautiful motif, drums click into gear, an a distant organ buzzes. Lyrically it’s heartbreaking, as Will recalls his grandfather’s final days, “you’ve got a big day coming, a big day coming now.” We won’t hear Away in its entirety until September but it promises to be very special, as Will puts it, “it’s not really an Okkervil River album and it’s also my favourite Okkervil River album.” Will Sheff or Okkervil River, whatever you call it, we can’t wait to hear it.

Away is out September 9th via ATO Records. Okkervil River tour the UK in October,