OLI HEFFERNAN of IVAN THE TOLERABLE AND HIS ELASTIC BAND – Song For Ewe

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a highly prolific multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and artist, early adopter of Bob Mortimer’s Train Guy, member of VS favs King Champion Sounds, and he’s been using Lockdown constructively to say the very least, to the point where he made his Tascam DP02 recorder quake under the strain of his creativity. With his band / alter ego Ivan The Tolerable (my favourite band name only rivalled by the German DJ Toulouse Low Trax), he’s released something like 42 albums, like the Robert Pollard of Redcar, and seven of those have come this year alone.

The latest, called “Out of Season” (on Stolen Body Records) is special not only because it’s a full band affair (with his Beefheart nodding Elastic Band) done via remote collaborations, but also because it features Mike Watt (a previous guest on these pages). Yes, that Mike Watt. Watt from Pedro. Minutemen, The Stooges, and recently Flipper, you know the guy. A living legend who has contributed his spoken word interpretations of prose written by Heffernan’s friend and regular collaborator Karen Schoemer.

“Out of Season” was also lovingly produced by fellow VS fav Ajay Saggar in a trade for Oli doing artwork for Saggar’s latest project, the stellar Bhajan Bhoy. I’ve got all the time in the world for this guy, he is an adult wolf and never a bankrupt parrot, welcome back to VS, (in possibly the shortest ever time between song for ewe returns after his last year’s ace album “Rations”), Oli Heffernan!

Here’s a taster – the last track on the album “And Everything Had It’s Place”…

With a cover like a seventies European arthouse movie poster, the music of “Out of Season” was, according to Heffernan designed to fall ‘somewhere between Faust and Sun Ra, but still sound like me”, and Mike Watt was approached because he envisaged an evocative American voice to read Karen Schoemer’s words, and by jove he does them justice.

Other than that, this piece of art is unpigeonhole-able if that were a word even. The only thing that comes close in the sense of cinematic art rock in my mind is the recent work of Lee Ranaldo with Raul Refree coupled with his earlier noisier excursions on record “East Jesus”, or the hard boiled fiction of Derek Raymond on “I Was Dora Suarez” as scored by Terry Edwards and James Johnston of Gallon Drunk.

The Arkestra vibes are definitely there too, along with a touch of James Chance & The Contortions truth be told. It’s a trip. Literally, circumnavigating the dustbowls of Death Valley via the peaky troughs of the North Sea.

Most of the album was recorded by Oli at home, with contributions from his King Champion Sounds bandmate Mees Siderius on drums and Elsa Van Der Linden on sax, but for an album done in tight confines, under severe restrictions in a world that has sometimes felt post apocalyptic, the soundscapes on “Out of Season” are out of this world. Anxious sure, but undeterred it reaches multi-tentacled into an intergalactic abyss of sonic space.

Last time out here, Oli chose a tune by Joanna Brouk who he’d found via research into Terry Riley, so I was very much expecting a new adventure in stereo from this student of the esoteric, and he hasn’t disappointed…so without further ado, this is Oli Heffernan’s “song for ewe”…

“Some musicians don’t like to listen to any other music while they are writing/recording as they fear it will ooze into what they are doing. I’m the opposite; I listen to all sorts of stuff while I’m working, as I am always curious to see what will come out the other end of the funnel from the things being poured in.

Nothing will ever be truly original ever again, we are well and truly past that point – it’s all about putting existing things together in new ways, so why fight it!

Last summer, I listened to The Necks pretty much solidly for about 3 months leading up to starting work on my new record, and I can definitely hear elements of them in there, even if others may not. But that’s the beauty of music – it’s the sum of its parts and everyone takes something different away from it – that’s why I love The Necks so much, rarely have three musicians been so in tune with one another when playing – they move as one super-tight, yet super-free unit. It just builds and builds and builds – no one is racing ahead, total respect for the common goal, no showboating.

I’ve always been a huge fan of repetition – the tension, the anxiety, the build….They are all things I really value in music and this band are grand high masters of the art. ‘Vertigo’ isn’t a lot of peoples favourite Necks record, it might not be mine – but never before has tension sounded this pure.”

THANKS AGAIN OLI, YOU’LL ALWAYS BE WELCOME ON VS. 

“Out Of Season” is out on Stolen Body Records on 21st August and you can get it here via Bandcamp…

Here’s Oli’s first “song for ewe”…

OLI HEFFERNAN of IVAN THE TOLERABLE & THE ELASTIC BAND – Song For Ewe

Here’s the “song for ewe” from Mike Watt (coinciding with the last Flipper tour in Europe)…

MIKE WATT of MINUTEMEN, FIREHOSE, THE STOOGES & for European tour FLIPPER ! – Song For Ewe

…and a recent pick from Oli’s KCS bandmate and producer Ajay Saggar aka Bhajan Bhoy…

BHAJAN BHOY – Song For Ewe

Author: Nick Hutchings

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