There are many kind of stitches: seams to secure sleeves into armholes ... sutures closing wounds and deep incisions ... loops or crosses of embroidery floss ... a sudden pain in the side. Stitches, the new album from Califone, touches on all these definitions, its episodes of discomfort and healing rendered with exquisite beauty and craftsmanship. Intimate timbres--garage sale drum machines, slack guitar strings, hushed vocals--offset the album's cinematic inclinations. The listener moves through a landscape of Old Testament blood and guts, spaghetti Western deserts and Southwestern horizons, zeroing in on emotions and images that cannot be glanced over. Motes of dust dance briefly in afternoon sunlight. "This is the only record I've made in my life where none of the work was done in Chicago," says Califone's Tim Rutili. The writing and recording began in Southern California, then continued in Arizona and Texas. "Those dry landscapes and beaches and hills and shopping malls all made it into the music," he acknowledges. Uniquely homespun elements are interwoven into the songs, too, including sounds Rutili recorded in his backyard during rainfall and while driving in his car. Brass, pedal steel, and strings color in the edges and outlines songs like "Frosted Tips," "We Are A Payphone," "Moonbath.brainsalt.a.holy.fool" and "Moses," yet Stitches is no Ennio Morricone-meets-Cecil B. DeMille pastiche. Gritty electronics, the mesmerizing thrumming of tablas, and eerie keyboards also pepper these ten new selections. A cartographer could spend lifetimes mapping the terrain of Stitches. Archetypes and mythological figures rub shoulders with bruised civilians throughout this odyssey. Though Rutili is not a religious man, episodes from the Bible in particular kept entering his psyche as he wrote. "I'm fascinated with why some stories and characters resonate and last for thousands of years, and are so easily transposed onto all our lives and rites of passage, no matter how absurd or surreal they are." Rutili has not been idle in the years since the release of Califone's critically acclaimed 2009 album All of My Friends Are Funeral Singers. He wrote scripts and painted and collaborated on the music for several films, including the score for the 2012 documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing and the Starz TV series BOSS. He lost a few band members and stopped all Califone activity for about a year. "Then one day I woke up and started writing songs again." At first he churned out a lot of songs that didn't make the cut. He kept moving. The larger themes that would eventually reach fruition on Stitches began to emerge. "During this process, I started to really look at myself and find a clearer, more honest voice," he reveals. "I forced myself to write as much as possible. I allowed myself to be crabby and vulnerable as much as I could stand it ... and slowly the songs got better." Eventually Rutili commenced recording with Griffin Rodriguez in Los Angeles, Michael Krassner in Phoenix, and Craig Ross in Austin, along with a raft of guest musicians. "We treated each song as its own particular planet. Bringing in different people and recording in different places helped bring some tension to the whole thing. I wanted this to be a more schizophrenic record, stitching together conflicting textures and feels." Rutili's old Red Red Meat colleague Tim Hurley stayed with him for a few months and they recorded together for the first time since Califone's eponymous 1998 debut EP. In some regards, Stitches harks back to those earliest days of Califone. There was more home recording, and musicians came and went as the songs dictated. "It was a much more solitary process, and that freed me up to feel less self-conscious about singing and writing more personal lyrics." Yet the ultimate outcome sounds like the work of an artist reborn. "I tried to keep the songs visual and poetic, but it was more important to allow myself to feel and be vulnerable and not hide in the music," Rutili says. "Instead of writing from my balls and brain, this time I wrote from the nerves, skin, and heart." Stitches--the word and the album--can mean different things to many people. Your own interpretations are welcomed and encouraged.

Two Chances to See Califone in NYC this Week!

If you’re going to be in New York City this week, you’ve got two chances to see Califone! As part of the prestigious New York Guitar Festival, Califone will debut their original film score to Buster Keaton’s Go West. See it live one night only this Thursday, January 19th at Merkin Concert Hall; this will truly be a unique opportunity to see Califone. Show details HERE.

When asked about the opportunity to create the film score, Tim Rutili (of Califone) said, “Califone scoring music for a Buster Keaton film makes almost too much sense. We will try to capture the inner stillness and the outer chaos on Buster’s migration west. Perfect.” The Silent Films/Live Guitar series celebrates the excellence of chosen guitarists. In pairing these artists with a silent film, each is given the opportunity to create a soundtrack out of their own diverse and innovative backgrounds.

The fun doesn’t stop there! Califone will play a second show at Littlefield the following evening, Friday, January 20th. Gem Club will open! View show details HERE.


Califone Plays Pickathon, Tours West Coast in August

better angels from Califone on Vimeo.

Califone will play the Pickathon Music Festival outside Portland, OR August 5-7 and will follow their festival appearance with a trek down the west coast. Check out full dates below and the band’s latest video for “Better Angels” from their most recent release All My Friends Are Funeral Singers above.

08/05/11 Happy Valley, OR- Pickathon
08/06/11 Happy Valley, OR- Pickathon
08/07/11 Happy Valley, OR- Pickathon
08/09/11 Vancouver, BC- Biltmore Cabaret
08/10/11 Seattle, WA- The Crocodile Cafe
08/12/11 San Francisco, CA- Bottom of the Hill
08/14/11 Los Angeles, CA- Satellite Club
08/15/11 San Diego, CA- Casbah

Califone Share “Better Angels” Video

better angels from Califone on Vimeo.

This video originally appeared as an extra on the DVD edition of the film All My Friends Are Funeral Singers. Using footage culled from film screenings and a live performance at the Mohawk at SXSW 2010, director Kevin Ford weaves together the surreal images of the film with a raucous set from the band. It feels like opium drenched dream sequence of the band and film blurring into one.

Califone’s Tim Rutilli’s Favorite Things From 2010

larryJust got a transmission from Califone’s Tim Rutilli about his best of 2010 list. Read on and be amazed.

Here’s a kind of random list in random order of things that i enjoyed this year.

Rediscovering old things:

Arthur Russell disco music
Thelonious Monk solo piano music
Robert Altman California Split & The Long Goodbye
Andrei Tarkovsky The Mirror
shamanic illumination process

Too many great food experiences but this one comes to mind, but this is the number one place to get soup this year: Daikokuya. It’s always crowded but worth the wait. Monterey Park location is a bit more sane than Little Tokyo. Seriously the best soup.

I went to Poland for a film festival. It was a great experience, showing Funeral Singers and meeting some wonderful people.

The best experience I had was falling asleep in a crowded movie theater while this film played:

It was an absolutely beautiful film but sleep pulled me under. Kind of the way sleep drugs pull you under and into sleep before you realize you’re sleeping. I fought hard but the sleep won.

The sounds and images of the movie leaked into my dreams and created another movie that I experienced. The dream took place in the movie theater and also in the woods but I was in it and engulfed in the trees and smells of this world. I found myself interacting with some harsh hill folks and also some angry Polish people. I was sitting between two friends. They said I snored loudly during the quiet parts. Looking forward to seeing this film again…

This was very similar to an experience I had at an Einsturzende Neubauten show in Chicago in the early 90’s. I had been awake for 3 days . Should have probably gone home and crashed but I didn’t want to miss the show. I sat in the balcony and leaned on the rail and was attacked by sleep in the hail storm of their noise. An amazing experience.

Another one from poland for the best of 2010 list is Zubrowka… buffalo grass vodka. pretty good.

There were plenty of amazing shows and great experiences with Califone; recording and showing Funeral Singers at film festivals etc… It seems like entire new worlds opened up this year.

But, working on music for Here with Michael Krassner and Boxhead Ensemble, Braden King and the crew was a definite highlight. Life affirming stuff.

Other People’s Pets:

I’m watching this kitten. he’s 6 or 7 weeks old. His owners are coming back in a few days. wish I can keep him. He’s making me happy- they haven’t decided on a name for him but I’ve been calling him Larry. (See photo above)

My friend was pet sitting for an old dog and a snake. The snake was in a glass tank. The dog was half blind and groaning. The snake had a layer of dead skin and shit littering his tank. She needed to clean the tank but was afraid. I pretended that I was unafraid. The snake was eyeballing me. I reached in and got the shit and the skin out of there. My heart was racing a bit. Snakes are scary. Pretending that you are not afraid until you are actually not afraid is number 10 on my best of 2010 list.

Booking Agent Contact

Billions - Boche

TOUTPARTOUT - Steven Thomassen
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Hasselt, Belgium
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free downloads

Stitches by Califone
Ape-Like by Califone


by Califone
We are a Payphone
by Califone
Frosted Tips
by Califone
Better Angels
by Califone
Giving Away The Bride
by Califone
Funeral Singers
by Califone

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