Jun 25, 2008, 12:58PM

Interview With Shearwater

One of our favorite music blogs sits down for a chat with the experimental folk iteration of Jonathan Meiburg, an Okkervil River cast-off and full-time ornathologist. He's almost as excited for his new musical venture as he is discovering a new bird.

Released June 3, Rook is Austin-based Shearwater’s first proper release on Matador Records, following a reissue of Palo Santo, originally released on Misra Records in 2006. Rook continues the band’s sonic evolution from what resembled field recordings on its early releases to near-art rock topped with Meiburg’s alternately cooing and soaring vocals.

AS: Your lyrics are fairly opaque. What inspires you when you write?

JM: Mmm, a toughie…if I could really explain that I probably wouldn’t write the songs. Usually I’ll find a few phrases that feel right for the music (and for the ‘theme’ or ‘feel’ of the album as I come to understand it) and then try to shape the rest of the song about that. But I don’t really like the word ‘opaque’ very much, as it implies inexpressive or inscrutable or uncommunicative - ..if you read the lyrics I think they’re mostly fairly easy to understand even if they aren’t completely linear. My hope is that, in combination with the music, they evoke an emotional response rather than an intellectual one.

AS: Do you plan to rejoin Okkervil River at some point?

JM: No.

AS: Your parallel life as an ornithologist is well noted. Any interesting expeditions lately?

JM: I wish! I keep my binoculars with me in the van and, while we’re zooming around the USA at 75mph, sometimes I’ll get lucky. On the tour we just finished with Clinic I saw a kind of swift I’d never seen before at a rest stop in Arizona, and a pair of bald eagles in Missoula. My last big expedition was to the Falklands about a year and a half ago to work on a survey of the species I studied in grad school - I made a series of funny/scary little promotional videos for Rook out of film that I took there.


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