Leif Vollebekk heads inland
While Leif Vollebekk’s new album is coming out in January, he’s still technically touring on his first album, Inland, released in 2010.
He’ll play as the opening act for Aidan Knight tomorrow (Oct. 26) at Communitea Café.
“I was last in the West with the Acorn, a great band from Ottawa, back in 2010,” he said. “I played Communitea on my own that same summer. Haven’t been back in a while. Looking forward to it.
“I slept in the back of a truck and swam in a quarry for breakfast – finest memories one can have,” he added. “It’s just great to play to new folks anywhere, but especially in Canada. I think Alberta is the most beautiful province and it’s always incredible to cross the Rockies.”
Vollebekk describes his folk-rock music as being of an older style.
“It’s not very now, it’s not in vogue at all, I listen to music mostly between the ’30s and the ’70s, and so that’s my bread and butter of songwriters,” he said. “The record and the live performances are more like Dylan than a pop singer is today.
“I’m really into old, good lyrics, solid songs, like Neil Young songs, songs that mean something. I just want to have a bit more of a richer acoustic sound. Sometimes I do some looping, to bring the ear somewhere else than just the traditional acoustic guitar sound. I think Sigur Ros is the only modern band I feel is genuinely a classic band.”
Vollebekk’s drawn to this music “Because it sounds so damn good” he stressed.
“Because it sounds like someone was just in a room and played music, and the songs were better,” he said. “Everything was more focused, more of it was anyhow.
“There’s people like Gillian Welch that still do it. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of musicians I love nowadays, too. There’s just a lot of catching up to do for me. “
While Vollebekk was born in Ottawa and now lives in Montreal, his Norwegian name has led people to mistakenly think he’s from overseas.
“A long time ago, I spent a year when I was back in school, in Iceland,” he said. “The record that came out in 2010, which seems like a long time ago, I wrote most of the songs when I was there, or when I got back.
“There’s a lot of confusion that I’m Icelandic, which is fine, because it’s a beautiful place to be mistaken from.”
One song on Inland – “Don’t go to Klaksvik” – adds to the confusion.
“It’s a bit tenuous, when you live in Iceland and go on vacation, you go to the Faroes,” joked Vollebekk. “The title sounds like an order and it’s really more of a plea, a kind request, like ‘don’t leave me hanging,’ but the title sounds more like a Weakerthans thing.”
The new album has been in the works ever since Inland was released.
“I’ve been working on it for way too long and I’m really excited for it,” he said. “It’s basically the oldest-sounding record I could possibly imagine, it’s all live except for a few overdubs, but it’s all done in the same room, everything is analogue.
“It sounds like 1973 exploded all over the vinyl, so it’s more of a songwriter record. I’m really proud of it and really eager to get it out. I’ll be playing mostly songs off of the new record. Technically all the instruments are country – pedal steel, violin, upright bass, acoustic guitar, harmonica – but it doesn’t sound country at all. It’s got the tambour of it, but it sounds like a weird folk ‘n’ roll. It’s more like Blood on the Tracks than anything else.”
While one online bio states the album is coming in 2011, Vollebekk is sure the album is now going to be released in January.
“When the first record came out in 2010, I had already recorded the next record, it was really quick and live,” he said. “And then I sat on it and realized that what I had done was make something that was slightly inferior, so that I could move on and write more songs, and I ended up scrapping it and reworking it.
“And then I just kept on re-recording it, because it didn’t have the right vibe. At any point I would say the record was done, and in my heart it wasn’t, and now it’s finally done and coming out in January.”
For this tour opening for Aidan Knight, Vollebekk will perform solo.
“Unfortunately I can’t bring a band because I don’t have the money,” he confessed. “I’ll be solo – I’ll have acoustic, electric, I think I might be able to borrow a violin, and if there’s a piano I’ll play that too.
“In an opening set, sometimes it’s so much easier when you only have so much time, to set up, plug in and play, I find it more relaxing to be solo on the stage.”
While Aidan Knight is known for talking a lot while on stage, Vollebekk can’t say for sure whether he’ll be of the same persuasion.
“It depends, opening sets depend on how they go, you don’t know who you’re going to meet because it’s not your vibe,” he said. “So if things are really relaxed I tend to be quite chatty, but sometimes people are really eager to see the headliner and it’s best to keep your head down and do some work.”
That said, he does himself tend to prefer talkative musicians.
“You go to shows where they play all the songs and don’t say anything, you almost forget you’re listening to live music,” he said. “I remember what Radiohead said 10 years ago at a show between the songs, but I don’t remember how they played. The words seem to stick.”
To hear Vollebekk’s music, visit his website at leifvollebekk.com
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