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River Whyless

River Whyless

Adam Torres

Thu · July 19, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$15.00

This event is 18 and over

River Whyless
River Whyless
Formanybands,andespeciallythosewho’vebeentogetherforseveralyears,recognizingmaturation,progressorpalpableevolutionisadauntingtask.Isitcontinuedcreativeaccomplishmentthatsignalsprogression?Orperhapsit’sprofitablecommercialendeavors?Theanswerisoftenquiteunclear.Sixyears,twoalbumsandcountlessgigsafterfirstformingasaband,RiverWhyless,theNorthCarolina-bredfolk-rockoutfithasdiscoveredtheirevolutionisasubtleralbeitmonumentallyimportantone.Deepinthethroesofwritingandrecordingtheirboldnewalbum,Kindness,ARebel,thefourmusiciansreachedanecessaryandcollectiveunderstanding.Namely:thisbandistheirlifeblood,theirfamilyandtheirlove.Tothatend,withunspokenacceptance,themembersofRiverWhyless,eachsongwritersintheirownright,collectivelyputasidetheirrespectiveegos,coalescedaroundeachother’screativevision,andfullyembracedthebeautyoftheirenduringpartnership.“Itwasafeelingofopennessandhopeandacceptance,”sayssinger-violinistHalliAndersonofthemulti-weeksessionswithproducerPaulButler(DevendraBanhart,MichaelKiwanuka)thatresultedinsomeofRiverWhyless’mostdynamic,genre-bendingandheartfeltmaterialyet.Creativesregularlywaverbetweenhonoringtheirowncreationandrallyingaroundlargerideasforthebenefitofthegroup.ButwitheverymemberofRiverWhylessnowchartingalifeoutsidetheband,andalsowritingontheirown,whencomingtogethertorecordKindnessitwasnevermorecrucialtheybeopenandhonestwitheachother.Tothatend,singer-guitaristRyanO’Keeferemembersanearlybrainstormsessionthatsawallfourmusiciansseatedinhislivingroom,eachpassingaroundtheirphonestohearroughsketchesofsongstheothershadwritten.Andwhileeachmemberacknowledgesoneoftheirself-pennedsongsmaynothaveendeduponthealbum,workingtogetherasagrouptolandonthebestRiverWhylesssongs--theonesthatspeaktohopeandbetrayal,maturationandstalledmomentum,thekindsofweightytopicstheiryoungerselvescouldneverhavetakenstockof--wasessentialtobothcreateakilleralbumand,moreimportantly,moveforwardasaunitedband.“We’vereachedapointwherewejustunderstandthatthesongsaremoreimportantthantheegos,”saysdrummerAlexMcWalters.AddsO’Keefebluntly:“Thisalbumgetstoadeeperareathananyofourothersbeforeit.”WorkingwithadynamicproducerlikeButlerhadalreadypushedRiverWhylessoutoftheircomfortzone.“Hepulledoutelementsofourwritingthatmaybeweweretimidaboutdoing,”O’Keefeoffers.Butitwastheexperienceofworkingononespecifictrack,inparticular–theopening“AllofMyFriends”–thatbestexhibitedhowmuchthebandhadgrown.Havingscrappedtheelectro-drivensongwhenButlertookaninitialdislikingtoit,Anderson“hadtodowhatIcallmywalkofabandonment,”sherecalls.“Itriedtoacceptthefactthatthissongwasn’tgoingtomaketherecord.SoIletgoofthesong.”Butafewdayslater,upondiscoveringasmallburblingtoneonasynthesizer,theirpassionforthesongwasreignited.SaysO’Keefe,“ItwasthefirsttimeIfeltlikewecapturedasonginthemomentofcreation.Lyricswerechanginginthemoment.Melodieswerechanginginthemoment.Singerswerechanging.Itwasreallydifficultandemotionallyintensebutsogratifyingwhenweweredone.”AddsAnderson:“Thespiritwasrevivedandthesongwasreborninthestudio.Wewerealllettingitbe.”Mostimportantly,theilluminatingexperienceprovedtoRiverWhylessthatevenaftermanyyearstogethertheywerestillmakingnewcreativediscoveries.Gettingtothatpoint,however,washardlyeasy.Following2016’sWeAllTheLight,eachmemberhadtakenonadditional
responsibilitiesintheirpersonallives:O’Keefe,recentlymarried,andbassistDanShearin,engaged,werebusybuildingtheirfirsthomes;AndersonrelocatedtoOregon;andMcWaltersenrolledingradschooltostudycreativewriting.And,ofevengreaterconsequence,afteryearsofpoundingthepavement,thebandbegantowonderifthisdreamtheycalledRiverWhylesswasstrongenoughtokeeppushingforward.Aseachbandmembers’lifeevolved,however,itwasRiverWhyless,theyrealized,thatservedastheiranchorandkeptthemwhole.O’KeefesayshisawakeningonthisfrontarrivedspontaneouslyonenightinSantaFe,NM.Followingatoughsupport-gigtourandjustbeforeAndersonwassettomovetoOregon,hedroppedheroffatamotel.“Andaswepulledawayitfeltlikeanending,”headmitslookingback.Watchingherthroughthewindow,asthecardroveaway,“itwasasifIremovedapairoftunnel-visiongogglesandcouldseetheworldandmylifeforthefirsttimesincewestartedthisband.Ifeltincrediblysmall,fragile,irresponsible,foolish,atalossforwhattodonextandveryalone.Therealityofwhatwehadbeentryingtodoforadecadecamecrashingdowninanalmostlaughableway.Wedidn'ttalkaboutitandIdon'tknowifanyonefeltthesamewaybut,atthatmoment,Ichanged.”ShuttlingbetweenOregonandNorthCarolinainrecentyears,Andersonadmitsshetoofoundherselfstrugglingwithher“coreidentity”atthetime.ItwasnotuntilshegotinthesameroomwithherbandmateslastyeartowriteKindness,ARebelthatshe,forthefirsttimeinages,feltcompletelywholeagain.“It'sstrangetosaybuttheonlyplacethatIfeltcompletelymewasinthemakingofKindness,ARebel,”shesays.“There'ssomethingaboutcreatingmusicinthestudiothatallowsonetoforgetthepompandcircumstanceandbemorepresent,moreinstinctual.”Music,andherband,sherealized,“remindmeofwhereIbelong.”AyearofchangewasasentimentShearinalsoshared:intherun-uptorecordingKindness,ARebel,he’dseenhislifeshiftingdrasticallywithahostofsignificantmilestones,andperhapsmostsignificantly,thesuddenpassingofhisfather.“Thisrockedmeincrediblyhardandshapedandcoloredtherestoftheyear,”hesays,notingthathisbandmatesandmanager"weremonumentalinhelpingmethroughthisexperience."Duringthistime,Shearinfound“aprofoundpeaceandbeautyinloss--recognizingthegrowththatcanriseintheplaceofwhatisgone.”Later,thiswasechoedastheywrotethealbum,astheimmediacyoftheprocessforcedeachmembertosurrenderhis/herownvisionandtrustoneanotherwiththebiggerpicture.AsMcWaltersnotes,everybodyreliedonthecollectivegrouptowadethroughtheirrespectivechallenges.Trustingeachother'screativeinstinctintheprocesswasanecessaryactof“lettinggo,anembraceofourweaknessesandacelebrationofourstrengths."Headdsthat"itwassomethingofarevelationtometorealizethatourweaknesscanbeinteresting,thatimperfectionisascompellingasthetalentthatsurroundsit.”Simplygettinginthesamephysicalspacewithoneanothertowritenewmaterialprovedchallenging.Tocombatthis,lastfallallfourmembersretreatedtoasecludedcabinoutsideBoone,NorthCarolinaforseveraldaysandbeganbrainstormingideasfortheirnewLP.“Itallowsyoutoliveandbreathethemusic...evenifjustforalittlebit,”Shearinoffersofthisforthrightmethodofcreativeincubation.ItwasinthatcabintheearlyseedsofwhatbecameKindnessbegantotakeshape.Thebandbouncedideasoffeachother,followedinspirationwhereitmightlead.Theyweresofocusedinfactthatallthemusicianswereloathetoreturntotheireverydaylives.“Wedraggedourfeettogetthereandthenwedraggedourfeettoleave,”saysAnderson,whocallsthealbum“agiantmassageformysoul.”
WhatalsobecameapparentduringthisgetawaywasthatRiverWhylesswaseagertostretchtheboundariesofwhatconstitutedtheirsound.Whereasearlieralbumscenteredonalargelybeatificbrandofheartfeltfolkmusic–seenmostprominentlyontheir2012debutalbum,AStone,ALeaf,AnUnfoundDoor–withencouragementfromButler,thebandbegantoexperimentwithamoreaggressiveandinnovativesonicpalate.“Thistimeitwasmorelike,let’sjustseewhathappensandgowithit,”saysMcWalters,whonoteshewantedtoembrace“amorestraightforwarddrivingfeel”tothealbum’shighlyrhythmicpercussion.Tothatend,thebandbalancesitsmoretraditionalharmony-anchoredleaningsasseenon“VanDykeBrown”andthegenteelacousticlamentof“WarisKind,”withmoreovertlyrockleaningsliketheMiddleEastern-tingedpsychedelicscrumof“FallingFarm”andtheguitar-and-pianojangleof“NewBeliefs.”Thismusicaldiversityisadirectreflectionofeachbandmemberbringinghisorherdistinctflavortothefold.Though,asAndersonadmits,thebandhasneverbeenmorecohesiveinitscreativevision.“It’salwaysdifficulttohavedifferingopinionsonsongsandtrytofindacompromise,”sheadmits,but“that’sthefunthingaboutcollaboration,”O’Keefenotes.“Itbecomessomethingbeyondyourownself.“Andhonestly,”Shearinadds,“ifnoteverybodyisonboardtogiveittheirallandgetbehindanideathenitcanendupfeelingemptyinaway.”Simplyput:whereRiverWhylesshaspreviouslybeendistinctsongwritersoperatingunderasinglebanner,theywerereadytonowexplorewhatitmeantobeatruecollective.Notthatitrequiredmuchheavylifting.“Becausewespendsomuchtimetogetherandweliveandloveoneanother,evenwhenwedon’tthinkabouteachotherwhenwe’rewritingwetendtowriteaboutsimilarsentiments,”Andersonsays.“Thesametypesofthingsareoftenaffectingallfourofus.”Concurring,McWalterssayswhenRiverWhylessplaysmusic“wecanalmostpredictwhat’sgoingtohappennextandcanreadeachother’smind.”“It’ssoimportanttoalwayskeepanopenmind”whenwriting,Shearinnotes,iflargelytoleavethedooropenforthebandtoveerdownunexpectedandexcitingnewavenues.Despitehavingneverfeltmoreunifiedintheirvisionforthefuture,muchasthey’venavigatedtheirfreewheelingcareertodate,RiverWhylessischoosingtonotpredictwhatliesahead.Allowingtheircreativeuniontocontinueguidingthem,theyinsist,remainstheironlyconstant.“Itfeelslikeyou’reonajourneywithyourfamily,”McWalterssaysofthesatisfactionofbeinginabandlikeRiverWhyless.“It’sabeautifulthing.
Adam Torres
Adam Torres
Following the release of his latest album, 'Pearls to Swine,' and his 'I Came to Sing the Song' EP,
both via Fat Possum in 2016 and 2017 respectively, Adam Torres has established himself as a
powerful and poignant performer and songwriter. His explorations find him sitting equally
within psych-folk and indie, and flavored by his affinity for his family's roots in the U.S.
Southwest. The resulting music offers deep, introspective journeys, both intimate and
memorable, making it clear why Torres has become a favorite of NPR, Pitchfork, and the like.
Venue Information:
The High Watt
One Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203
http://thehighwatt.com/