Something like two decades ago, when I was Features Editor of NME and making some pragmatic decisions involving coverage of second and third-tier Britpop bands, I had a kind of argument with Laurence Bell, the owner of the Domino label.
Bill Callahan plays London’s Royal Festival Hall tonight (February 7), in support of his Dream River album (and its recent dub remix, Have Fun With God) – so it seems a good time to skip back to our 197th issue, in which Uncut spends an intimate evening at Callahan’s house in Austin, unpicking the mysteries of the Artist Formerly Known As Smog... “I left clues?” Words: Jaan Uhelszki________________
Sometimes, with Bill Callahan, the focus on his records is so unwaveringly on his lyrics, it is tempting to treat them as recited poetry rather than actual music. On an old Smog record like “The Doctor Came At Dawn”, say, the music seems barely there; just a little shading to point up the melodic undertow of a baritone that often wanders closer to speech than song.
Bill Callahan has announced tour dates for 2014.
The dates are in support of his latest solo album, Dream River. You can read Uncut's review here.
Callahan has also released a new video, for the Dream River track, "Small Plane!" Scroll down to watch it.
Bill Callahan plays:
January 31, Gateshead, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom
February 1, Glasgow, United Kingdom
February 2, Dublin, United Kingdom
Jaan Uhelszki, as you may have seen in the current issue of Uncut, recently spent some time with Bill Callahan at his home in Austin. One of Jaan’s great skills is her ability to conduct a forensic sweep of any environment she finds herself in, and on Callahan’s bookshelves, she notes, are “Bass Playing For Dummies… a King Tubby DVD… Learning Spanish by Michael Thomas, ‘The Language Teacher To The Stars’… a Stephen Crane reader.”
I hope you had a good Bank Holiday break. I spent a very enjoyable chunk of it reading the new Carl Hiaasen novel – excuse the shameless self-promotion, but you can read an interview I did with Hiaasen over on my blog. But now we’re back in the office, and it’s my pleasure to introduce you all to the new issue of Uncut, which goes on sale tomorrow.
Bill Callahan is to release a new single on August 19, featuring dub versions of two songs from his forthcoming album, Dream River.
The single features "Expanding Dub" - a take on the song "Javelin Unlanding" - backed with "High In The Mid-40's Dub", a version of the album's closing track, "Winter Road".
Scroll down to hear "Expanding Dub".
Dream River is released on September 16 on Drag City.
We look into the touching, awkward new film about Bill Callahan, Apocalypse: A Bill Callahan Tour Film, in the new issue of Uncut, dated April 2013, and out now. As a companion piece, check out this fantastic piece with Callahan, aka Smog, recalling how he made his greatest albums, from May 2010’s Uncut (Take 156).