Union Transfer

1026 SPRING GARDEN STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19123 Ι 215-232-2100

William Fitzsimmons

William Fitzsimmons

Leif Vollebekk

Thu, April 17, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

$20.00 - $22.00

This event is all ages

William Fitzsimmons
William Fitzsimmons
Growing up with two blind parents, sound became extremely important in communicating and relating to one another. After growing up around music, he set it aside to pursue his education. William received his masters in counseling and worked as a psychotherapist for several years before turning to songwriting. He truly writes the kind of songs that most songwriters dream about; brilliant, heavy, complex and intensely personal…the songs are nothing short of breathtaking.

Lions is a musical reflection of the personal renovation that's taken place since 2010's Gold In The Shadow. Best summed up by Fitzsimmons himself:

"The last couple years have been…full (kind of difficult to describe years in a single word). They have been wonderful, painful, long, incredibly brief, and more educational and rewarding than any I've ever lived before. ??I finished touring on the previous record feeling very conflicted. The longer I'm given the wonderful opportunity to write and create things, and subsequently share them with others, the more seriously and preciously I take that endeavor and responsibility. It is something I look upon with the utmost gratitude and respect. ??And yet at the same time I find myself making art in a field that is itself quite the opposite of it. I am learning that one of the most difficult things about being human is not merely facing things that you don't generally find comfortable or appropriate or even good, but actually learning how to live in the midst of it and not let it take over who you are. ??When you feel you are on a wrong-headed path, the quickest way to get where you want to go is to turn around, head back, and start again from the point you went askew. ??And so I did.

I returned simply to the things, which have always brought me some measure of understanding, peace, and movement. I began to write and play music without "motive" or "goal" or end result in mind. The way that I wrote when I first began.

There was no cartoon light bulb over my head or kitchen timer dinging to let me know I had gotten somewhere. With the stuff that matters there rarely is I suppose. But after months and months and months (and more bottles of beer and bowls of tobacco than I'd care to disclose), I felt like a necessary distance had been traversed. ??Wanting to continue in this very spirit, I chose to take yet another leap. I made a list of the producers who were making the music and records that most meant something to me. With no expectation I got in touch with the person at the top of the list. And, in a few months, I was on a plane to Seattle to begin working with Chris Walla to turn these songs in a notebook into the collection I wanted them to become.

"Lions" is something I'm terribly proud of and utterly connected to. It's a very personal piece to me (aren't they all) and something that I want you to connect with deeply. And I think you will. I honestly don't want to say too much about the music, because the truth is if music is of any worth, it should be able to speak for itself."
Leif Vollebekk
Leif Vollebekk
Leif Vollebekk spent two years searching for perfect takes. This search took him from his home in Montreal to a studio in Manhattan, from a farmhouse in Woodstock, NY to a mansion outside Paris, and the result is a dusty, polished, new, old record called North Americana.

"I wrote the songs, I found the best band in the world, and then all I had to do was find the right studio, for the right take," he says. "And it took forever."

After his 2010 debut, Vollebekk knew the kind of album he wanted to make next: a record like the ones he loves by Gillian Welch or Ryan Adams, that feel old and familiar even when they're new. But also a record that speaks to the listener through its lyrics, with songs "that can hold up in a storm," that are packed full of perfect little mistakes.

So he started writing. Ten new songs, the best he had ever written, with lines about love and the end of love, about journeys and homecoming, about the death of friends and drinking yourself dry. Now Vollebekk laughs: "I thought the record was done when I was finished writing the songs. 'All we need to do is record it!'"

But when you're searching for the perfect take, recording is no small task. It happened only piece by piece, session by session, song by song, over the course of seasons.

The players were these: Vollebekk, singing, playing guitar and piano, harmonica, rusty fiddle on "When the Subway Comes Above the Ground"; the jazz musicians Hans Bernhard (bass) and Philippe Melanson (drums). "I wanted to be able to roam with them wherever I go," Vollebekk says. Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld played violin, arranging her own parts. Joe Grass played pedal steel. And Adam Kinner played tenor sax.

The heart of the songs was always recorded live, to tape. Old school, spontaneous, one real captured moment. To find these moments, they travelled. To Montreal's legendary Hotel 2 Tango studio, working with Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Coeur de Pirate, Godspeed You! Black Emperor). To New York City, working with Tom Gloady (Ryan Adams, Sigur Rós, Patti Smith). To La Frette studios, in La Frette-sur-Seine, France. And then back to Montreal, for one song at Breakglass studios. Vollebekk even tried recording with John Simon, the producer whose credits include Music from Big Pink and Songs of Leonard Cohen. At his home in upstate New York, Simon listened to "Cairo Blues," then travelled up to Montreal to record it. "There was just not a good take," Vollebekk says. "I ended up doing it a few months later, again at the Hotel, between takes of something else – and that's just how it went."

North Americana took years. "All this time," Vollebekk says, "trying to get one take." But the result is a beautiful, alive, human – shambling ballads, noisy folk songs, vivid portraits of a 27-year-old's watercolour life. "I feel like I created a record from 1970something that no one's heard before," Vollebekk says. "I'm haggard and this record is all I got."
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123