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You Should Already Know: Okkervil River

By Will Sheff; photo by Ben Sklar on September 10, 2013

 

You Should Already Know: Okkervil River

WHEN WE KNEW WE WERE GOING TO MAKE IT AS A BAND

I don’t think any band ever “knows they’re going to make it.” I bet Coldplay is still hoping they make it some day. The instant you get any kind of success you set the bar again. No matter who you are, you always feel jealous of somebody else who you feel like has more. The secret of happiness is probably to get the hell out of that rat race, but who actually can?


THE HIGH POINT OF OUR CAREER

Having a girl tell me my records helped her get through junior high.


THE LOW POINT OF OUR CAREER

This question.


THE FUNNIEST THING A JOURNALIST EVER WROTE ABOUT US

That we were "an alt-country band,” that we had "a twang,” that we were "an Americana band." Any sentence that names our band and also includes the word “porch.”


WHEN THE JOURNALISTS GOT IT RIGHT

“These guys are a bunch of fucking hacks!”


Will Sheff behind the scenes on Okkervil River's "Stay Young" music video shoot.


THE BEST SONG I EVER WROTE

“Down Down the Deep River” [from 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium] because after I wrote it, I felt like I’d said a ton of things that I had always wanted to say and didn’t even realize I had wanted to say. It was a high that lasted days. I think I’ll probably look back on that one and still be really happy about it a long time from now. Picking a tip-top very favorite song is impossible.


OUR WORST AND BEST SHOW EVER

Impossible to pick because there have been so many. Having Springsteen watch our set sidestage was nice. Playing the last-ever show at Ralph’s Corner Bar in Morehead, Minnesota, in front of a crowd of drunken locals was nice. I hated an Austin City Limits where I slipped in dust and smashed my guitar and couldn’t see the crowd. I hated a show in Lawrence, Kansas, where I had just gotten into an epic fight with the girl I was dating and was sick and miserable.


HOW WE'RE MOST LIKELY TO BE REMEMBERED

For our flippant and yet occasionally respectful answers to the FILTER magazine “You Should Already Know” digital email attachment questionnaire.


HOW WE'D LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

For weeping openly on the confession-cam of a reality show.


Will Sheff Picks 3 Okkervil River Records You Should Already Own


Black Sheep Boy

(2005)


One of my favorite recordings we’ve made. I like the way it sounds, I like the way I sequenced it and I think it has some of the better songs I’ve written. I also really like William Schaff’s artwork.

 

 

 

The Stage Names

(2007)


Really good, fun performances from the band, I think. And I think it’s got the best 1-2-3 opening track sequence of any of our records besides The Silver Gymnasium. In hindsight, this was a really fun record to make, too, though I remember at the time it was stressing me out.

 

I Am Very Far

(2011)


It was really new for me and I think it’s our best-sounding record. The songs we did with our giant band of four electric guitarists, two bassists, two piano players and two drummers is one of the coolest and most fun things I have ever been involved in, and I think some of the most exciting recordings as well. I was trying to do something new with lyrics on I Am Very Far and I’m very proud of them. I also think the bonus tracks were really great.


Check out Okkervil River's recent takeover of our Instagram account for more behind-the-scenes antics.

This article is from FILTER Issue 53