Photo by Larry Niehues
Pokey LaFarge is set to release Rock Bottom Rhapsody on April 10th, 2020. The 13-song set is his New West Records debut and was produced by Chris Seefried (Fitz and the Tantrums). The album was recorded at Reliable Recorders on Chicago’s Northwest Side during the polar vortex of 2019 and features the guitarist Joel Paterson, keyboardist Scott Ligon, upright/electric bassist Jimmy Sutton, and drummer Alex Hall. Rock Bottom Rhapsody is LaFarge’s first album in over three years and follows 2017’s acclaimed Manic Revelations.
Today, Paste Magazine has premiered the album track “End Of My Rope.” Speaking to the publication, LaFarge said “I like to think of ‘End of My Rope’ as kind of a Charlie Feathers meets The Everly Brothers meets T-Rex kind of sound.” They say the track “brings folk music and rock ‘n’ roll together in a way that feels fresh.” Hear the song HERE.
Rolling Stone Country previously premiered the video for the album track “F*ck Me Up.” They stated, “In 2018, Pokey LaFarge moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles. It nearly killed him. The eccentric Americana troubadour documents his overindulgence and despair on the new album Rock Bottom Rhapsody.” Of the video, they say “The clip is both haunting and mesmerizing, with LaFarge participating in his own funeral procession (at one point, he sings from his coffin). Images of him surrounded by women and later drinking alone in a hotel room presage what led him to this point, culminating with LaFarge transforming into a cartoonish devil that plays barroom piano.” See the Keene McRae & Brandon Bernath directed video HERE.
“The man singing these songs isn’t exactly the same man that wrote them,” says LaFarge. “This album is about the story of who I used to be.” In early 2018 he relocated from his longtime home base of St. Louis to Los Angeles. New songs came quickly to LaFarge in his new environment, but new temptations soon found him, as well. He admits that he experienced a significant “fall from grace” during the last months of 2018. “Things started to unravel in my mind. I was letting evil spirits and demons rule me, and I came into certain agreements with them, and it took me down. I was giving too much power to darkness, and I got in too deep, and I made some bad decisions. The reality of the situation is that I hit the closet to rock bottom that I ever had, and I’ve definitely had some hardships in my life.”
While songs on Rock Bottom Rhapsody were mostly written before LaFarge’s life went into a downward spiral, their lyrics definitely speak of a soul in crisis — even though their author himself wasn’t fully aware of it at the time. “It’s a case of me writing the story and writing the song, and then unfortunately living it,” he reflects. “I was going towards the darkness. Destruction definitely ensued; self-sabotage and self-destruction definitely happened.”
But shortly before the recording of Rock Bottom Rhapsody began, LaFarge experienced a spiritual awakening — and the faith he re-embraced in his hour of darkness helped to buoy him through the making of the album. “I wrote this record before the fall from grace, and then it was recorded after the fall from grace. So you see how that could be kind of odd,” he says. “What I was searching for was peace and humility in the aftermath of carnage, of things I had wrecked, and — seemingly at the time — completely destroyed. I was just trying to survive; I had to fight every time to get up to that microphone and just sing. It was kind of a last stand.”
During the recording of the album, LaFarge took a break to take a “dark, sad, villainous role” in the forthcoming Netflix film The Devil All The Time which was produced by the notable music supervisor Randall Poster and the actor Jake Gyllenhaal. “The irony wasn’t lost on me that, one month after finding God, the first feature film opportunity that comes across my table has that for a title,” he chuckles.
Pokey LaFarge has also announced his initial tour dates in support of Rock Bottom Rhapsody, launching April 24th in Rotterdam and beginning in the U.S. on May 8th in Asheville, NC. Please see all dates below.
Pokey LaFarge’s Rock Bottom Rhapsody will be available across digital platforms, on compact disc, and standard black vinyl. A limited to 500 Pink Carnation Colored Vinyl edition will be available at Independent Retail and a limited to 300 Buttercream Colored Vinyl edition is available for pre-order now exclusively via NEW WEST RECORDS.
Pokey LaFarge On Tour:
April 24th Rotterdam, Netherlands – Maasilo
April 25th Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
April 26th Berlin, Germany – Roadrunners Paradise
April 29th Paris, France – La Maroquinerie
April 30th Antwerp, Belgium – De Roma
May 1st Lessines, Belgium – Roots & Roses Festival
May 2nd London, UK – Islington Assembly Hall
May 8th Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
May 9th Mt. Airy, NC – The Earle
May 10th – Charleston, WV NPR’s Mountain Stage
May 13th – Lexington, KY The Burl
May 15th St. Louis, MO – Off Broadway
May 16th St. Louis, MO – Off Broadway
May 17th Nashville, TN 3rd & Lindsley (Lightning 100)
June 2nd Maquoqueta, IA – Codfish Hollow
June 3rd Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line
June 4th Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
June 5th Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme
June 6th Indianapolis, IN – HiFi
June 9th Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
June 10th Pittsburgh, PA – Thunderbird
June 11th Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live
June 12th Annapolis, MD – Rams Head Live
June 13th Jersey City, NJ – White Eagle Hall
June 16th Fairfield, CT – The Warehouse
June 17th New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
June 18th Boston, MA – Sinclair
June 19th Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
June 20th Albany, NY – The Egg
June 23rd Rockport, MA – Shalin Liu
June 24th Portsmouth, NH – Prescott Park
June 26th Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
June 27th Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern