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Okkervil River

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  • Okkervil River

  • Okkervil River

  • Okkervil River

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

Group Members: Will Sheff

All Music Guide:

Formed in 1998 in Austin, TX, Okkervil River find the middle ground between indie rock and folk-rock, placing slightly more emphasis on the former. Vocalist Will Robison Sheff and drummer Seth Warren first rubbed shoulders as high-school students in Meriden, NH, a town they eventually left to attend different colleges. The two reconvened several years later in Austin, where they put together Okkervil River with the help of bassist Zachary Thomas. The group recorded several EPs as a trio, including 2000's Stars Too Small to Use, before crossing paths with multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg at a local bar. Meiburg soon joined the band, and Okkervil River made their first big splash at the SXSW festival in March 2000.

Producer Brian Beattie caught the band's SXSW showcase and agreed to helm Okkervil River's debut album, Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See. Warren relocated to California during the recording sessions and was replaced by drummer Mark Pedini; meanwhile, the band inked a record contract with Jagjaguwar, which released the completed Don't Fall in Love in January 2002. A second release, Down the River of Golden Dreams, followed one year later. Pedini had left the band by early 2003, however, thus leaving his former bandmates without a drummer as they prepared to return to SXSW. Travis Nelson climbed aboard as a temporary replacement and soon joined the permanent lineup, as did lap steel guitarist Howard Draper.

Already renowned in Texas, Okkervil River rose to national prominence with the release of 2005's Black Sheep Boy, followed several months later by the Black Sheep Boy Appendix EP. Both albums featured a wide crop of musicians, and the band's lineup continued to change as Scott Brackett joined on keyboards and Pat Pestorius replaced Zach Thomas on bass. Okkervil River's profile was likewise expanding, as Virgin Records reissued both Black Sheep Boy discs in Europe. Despite the international buzz, several bandmates found themselves torn between Okkervil River and Shearwater, a group originally founded in 2001 as a side project for Meiburg and Sheff. As the side project evolved into a full-fledged band, Meiburg quit Okkervil River to devote his full attention to Shearwater. Brian Cassidy was then hired, and the new lineup unveiled itself with 2007's Stage Names.

Stage Names climbed to number 62 on the Billboard charts, Okkervil River's highest peak to date. Three months after its release, pianist Justin Sherburn joined the band. Lineup changes continued into 2008, as Cassidy left and was replaced by the Wrens' Charlie Bissell, who toured throughout the summer before giving up his spot to guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo. With their newest lineup intact, Okkervil River returned that fall with the band's fifth album, The Stand Ins. TV performances and various tour dates followed, as did the opportunity to serve as Roky Erickson's backing band on True Love Cast Out All Evil. Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff produced the critically acclaimed album, a role he reprised on his own band's 2011 release, I Am Very Far. Sheff went Back to the Future on 2013's Silver Gymnasium, an 11-track ode to his hometown of Meridian, New Hampshire.

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eMusic Features

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Interview: Okkervil River

By Hilary Hughes, Contributor

Memories of adolescence tend to be peppered with moments of mortification: Puberty, first kisses, monumental heartbreaks, awkward attempts at experimentation, initial encounters with real world vices and the last dwindling bits of innocence between the final days of grade school and the moment we move into our freshman dorms. Revisiting these milestones can be a painful endeavor, but for Will Sheff of Okkervil River, it proved inspiring. Their first record since 2011's I Am Very Far,… more »

2

36 Songs To Soothe the Pain

By Wondering Sound Staff, Contributor

Whether you're happily married or told Cupid to shove it a long time ago, we can all agree on one thing: to quote the one-and-only Nazareth, "Love hurts/ Love scars/ Love wounds/ And mars." Or something. That's why we went ahead and compiled a list of 36 Songs To Soothe the Pain, from the bloodletting confessionals of Neko Case, Bright Eyes and Sunny Day Real Estate to the melancholic melodies of Sigur Rós, the Shangri-Las… more »

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Six Degrees of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds

By Rachael Maddux, Contributor

It used to be easier to pretend that an album was its own perfectly self-contained artifact. The great records certainly feel that way. But albums are more permeable than solid, their motivations, executions and inspirations informed by, and often stolen from, their peers and forbearers. It all sounds awfully formal, but it's not. It's the very nature of music — of art, even. The Six Degrees features examine the relationships between classic records and five… more »

0

Six Degrees of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds

By Rachael Maddux, Contributor

It used to be easier to pretend that an album was its own perfectly self-contained artifact. The great records certainly feel that way. But albums are more permeable than solid, their motivations, executions and inspirations informed by, and often stolen from, their peers and forbearers. It all sounds awfully formal, but it's not. It's the very nature of music — of art, even. The Six Degrees features examine the relationships between classic records and five… more »

0

Interview: Okkervil River’s Will Sheff

By Amanda Petrusich, Contributor

There's no better anchor for Okkervil River's brawny, brainy art-rock than the band's hyper-articulate frontman, Will Sheff: His vocals rush and recede, swell and shrink, changing every few bars to better suit the stories he tells. eMusic's Amanda Petrusich spoke with Sheff — fresh off a week of doctor-ordered voice-rest — about ditching the concept album, living in New York, keeping quiet and pursuing "a bigness that's not polite." I'm glad to hear that you're able to… more »

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