Bill Callahan loathes Chicago winters. So much so he moved to Austin, Texas, two years ago after a four-year stint here.
While the Windy City will always be a home away from home for the Silver Spring, Md., native--he's recorded 12 albums of haunting folk tunes for Chicago's Drag City record label under the name Smog--he says the weather will keep him away in winter months.
"They're brutal and bleak," he says in a recent interview. And he kicks off his new album, "A River Ain't Too Much to Love," by declaring, "Winter weather is not my soul."
Callahan, 37, returns to Chicago this week backed by drummer Jim White (Dirty Three), bassist Colleen Burke (ex-We Ragazzi) and guitarist Jason Dezember. Not incidentally, the forecast calls for temperatures in the 90s.
Aside from the weather, why the move from Chicago to Austin?
Every time I've been through [Austin] I felt good. I had some good shows. I met nice people. People seem to truthfully be into music here. People go to shows in other cities for a bunch of different reasons, not necessarily the music.
What about the heat? It can get oppressive in Austin.
Nah, I like it. There are really great natural springs to swim in.
How'd Chloe Sevigny wind up in the video for "Mother of the World"?
She's a friend of [director Bryce Kass]. I know her a bit. She's a fan of the music. She was out in L.A. working on some HBO series. She had a day off and she said she'd do it.
You seemed a little uncomfortable in the video. Did you enjoy making it?
I'm really intrigued by the thought of [making a video] but I actually didn't like it. I'd rather not be in it, but this time I put myself in the director's hands just to see what would happen.
Lyrically, the new album seems like a departure.
I think I had some really important things in my personal life happen--some liberating things. Better relationships that have changed my outlook on life--well, partially at least.
I hear a new guitar influenced the new record.
I got a classical acoustic guitar. The neck is really wide on those things, and it made me think about every single note. Where with an electric or an acoustic steel-string guitar, all I think about are chords because the strings are so close together.
Matt McGuire is the metromix music producer.]Originally published Aug. 3, 2005.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times