Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
There are always more hot fall days in Austin, Texas, no matter what time of the year it is, but last winter, the city was having one last outdoor show hurrah. Up here in the north, temperatures were already dipping and the early winter winds were becoming blustery. A short flight down there yielded a day of balminess and the city had a big night planned with a pre-holiday radio charity show with Cold War Kids and across the street from our very own Big Orange studio, the Scoot Inn was hosting its final big outdoor show of the year with Mister Heavenly headlining. It was a pristine day there at the beginning of December, but it didn't make much of a difference to Honus Honus (normally of Man Man), Nicholas Thorburn (normally of Islands), Joe Plummer (normally of Modest Mouse) and Michael Cera (normally of the silver screen). They'd performed the evening before in Seattle or Portland and had flown into Austin just minutes before the session was to commence. They hadn't slept at all the night before and they all, collectively, must have felt like ten-to-twelve bucks. It couldn't have been much more than that. They were four men of just rattling change, dragging their guitars and drumsticks through the gravel behind them. They were living for the Mexican food that would be awaiting them on the picnic table outside the studio at the end of the recording session. Honus' voice was giving him problems, but Thorburn must have been on a sugar high, or some kind of loopy euphoria. He seemed mostly unaffected by the night before and the long day that ran up to the current moment. Cera was mostly quiet, but got somewhat chatty about instant cameras and when he had a chance to talk briefly with Matt Maust and Nathan Willett of Cold War Kids, who stopped by for a sec after a trip to Waterloo Records to pick up a copy of Jay-Z's "Decoded." Once playing, the music, which had been kept mostly under wraps aside from the sometimes good, sometimes poor live show video that was all over the Internet, was infectious and an oceanic mixture of what Thorburn and Honus are usually up to. There were still no details about a record ever coming out and there in Austin - as it was every night of this short binge of shows - there was speculation hanging over every show about whether or not Cera would be there on bass or off on a movie set somewhere. It was enough to sell the show out well in advance, the place packed with all kinds of googly-eyed girls, dressed up and looking for a movie star. The music shines brighter than the super-group/Hollywood phenomenon and Cera is a real deal bass player, not a sideshow within the show. He awkwardly engages the crowd at one point, stepping to a microphone, commenting that he liked it there in this city and that his middle name is Austin. He knows how to win them over and the songs on "Out Of Love," the just-released debut album win us over early on, with the woe of summertime-sounding love following us around with sweet eyes and a ragged, shipwrecked thump. It's all absolutely heavenly.
Mister Heavenly Official Site
Sub Pop Records Site