When I was writing the lyrics for I Am Very Far I kept fixating on the idea of being new, specifically memories of being very little and being conscious of the fact that I was a new person, that I hadn’t existed before. I kept thinking about the way the brain works when it’s not trying overly hard to put ideas or thoughts in order, either because it’s new or maybe because it’s dreaming or maybe because it’s been disarranged in some way.
The lyrics to “Your Past Life as a Blast” deal with a lot of different things and in a kind of disarranged way, but it felt to me like it was the sweetest moment on the record, a moment of nostalgia and tenderness and sunnyness. When I was writing the lyrics, certain images flashed in my head, and some of those images were specifically from my childhood, or of the way I remember earliest childhood feeling to me.
Like many kids of the late 70s and early 80s, my dad was often hovering around with a Super 8 camera, filming my mom and me and – as time passed – my younger brother and sister. I remember him projecting these movies on a bare wall and, eventually, the movies becoming as much a part of my memory as the original events he had filmed. I thought it would be cool to use actual footage of those memories in the video itself, to make a really personal kind of rock video.
For the “Your Past Life as a Blast” video, I worked with the editor Alan Del Río Ortíz to turn my dad’s home movies into a short condensed film of someone’s childhood, a little home-movie music video, about moms and dads and kids, and how it felt.
I saw Okkervil River at the Royale in Boston back in June. I have since moved to a new apartment and subsequently misplaced my notes from that show, but I will say that despite the fact that the I Am Very Far as an album didn't do a lot for me, OR is still one of the best live bands out there. What was interesting to me that night is that the band personal has completely changed over since I first saw them in 2007; only two of the six musicians I saw four years ago are still in the band. And from the original band founded in 2001, only Will Sheff remains. It's only natural for a band to rotate members, especially in the early years, but when this current OR lineup played the older songs, they sounded just a little bit different than the original band. This isn't necessarily good or bad, just different. Anyway, the entire show kicked ass, and I even liked the I Am Very Far songs. OR played everything I wanted to hear, and if I ever find my notes from that show, I'll post the official set list, but here are a few that I remember.
Wake and Be Fine
A Girl in Port
John Allyn Smith Sails
Your Past Life as a Blast.mp3
Buy: I Am Very Far (2011)
A Stone (Will Sheff solo)
Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe.mp3
Buy: Stage Names (2007)
Unless It's Kicks
And some others.....
Okkervil River is currently touring Australia. I highly recommend that you check them out.