Novelistic concept albums are nothing new for Okkervil River. "Black Sheep Boy," "The Stage Names" and "The Stand Ins" were constructed in this way, with the central theme of a rock and roll mythology. The band's new offering, their eighth album, "The Silver Gymnasium" deals less with mythology and more with biography, specifically that of lead singer Will Sheff. He resists the urge to romanticize those years: "Show me my best memory, it's probably super crappy." Sheff's memories are a tangled wood and we all know how unreliable our own memories can be as we try to navigate through them.
The band was recently in town to play to a packed room of devoted fans at Off Broadway. The following day they came by the KDHX studios to share four selections from "The Silver Gymnasium." It's evident why Sheff says he feels such a connection to the late, great Lou Reed, and why Reed said of Sheff, "You are a great rock singer. You've got a great rock voice. You can sing anything."
All photos by Nate Burrell