September 9th saw the return of Okkervil River via their first LP in three years, Away, a record principal Will Sheff has described as “me taking my life back to zero and starting to add it all back up again.”
Below, we are screening the group’s performance at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust recorded this past July. “I wanted to get together with a lot of the musicians who recorded Away and play these songs all together live in New York once before the record came out”, notes Sheff. “I wrote the set based around vinyl sides, and divided it into A, B, and C. In between, we played some old songs… it was nice to get together in this beautiful Brooklyn performance space and just play the whole thing through before all the touring got underway.” The occasion marks the sole performance with the members of yMusic and the orchestra, and was the first time the group played the album in full.
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 and then I mixed the record with Jonathan Wilson out in Los Angeles.