If You Have Ghosts

Erickson acolytes sound off on ‘True Love Cast Out All Evil’

Think of as One: (l-r) Okkervil River's Lauren Gurgiolo, Will Sheff, Roky Erickson, Jegar Erickson, engineer Stuart Sullivan, manager Darren Hill, and Casey Monahan
Think of as One: (l-r) Okkervil River's Lauren Gurgiolo, Will Sheff, Roky Erickson, Jegar Erickson, engineer Stuart Sullivan, manager Darren Hill, and Casey Monahan (Courtesty of Casey Monahan Joe Nick Patoski)

There are countless unsung heroes in the resurrection saga of Roky Erickson. The Chronicle polled a few of them about True Love Cast Out All Evil, his long-awaited comeback record with Okkervil River. Erickson will be signing copies at Waterloo Records on Saturday at noon.

Casey Monahan, Texas Music Office and editor of Openers II: The Lyrics of Roky Erickson

“I was so happy when I heard it. Not only did we have a former intern playing on the record [guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo], but Will [Sheff] understood that Roky’s songs breathe, and he captured that energy. That album is a fully realized statement of Roky’s songwriting genius. He may not be the best screamer in rock & roll anymore, but he’s found a voice that will carry him into his hundreds.”

Bill Bentley, producer of Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson

“To me Roky has always been great, even at his worst. I remember with the last days of the Elevators he would sing with his back to the audience, often a different song than what was being played. That’s how disjointed it got, but we still loved them; it was unconditional. With his recovery and this record, there’s this amazing sense of grace that follows him. I don’t know much about Okkervil River, but they really know how to paint the picture behind him. The record just completely floored me.”

Craig Stewart, Emperor Jones Records

“I cheated and found the record on a blogspot so King [Coffey] and I listened to it and that first song [‘God is Everywhere’] was cool to hear on the record, pre-overdub. When Evelyn gave me that tape to transfer it was crazy to hear him stepping outside with birds chirping and then the lyrics mentioning birds. In fact it reminded me of listening to the lyrics the first time and scratching my head, a psych dude out of the hospital and singing about Christ? I asked him once about the lyrics after ‘Moses had thought he was Jesus...’ and with the hippie/Christ mindset, I asked him if it was’...and when he took his tablas out...’ He rarely smiles but I think he did, nodding yes. I'm ignorant of religion and later on I knew he was obviously saying “tablets,” not tablas...”

Henry Rollins, punk icon and publisher of Openers II: The Lyrics of Roky Erickson

“As far as a musical asset to this country, I think Roky Erickson is a national treasure. I believe in Roky’s genius. He’s a truly gifted person with that freakish thing that some people have with music. Considering years ago you didn’t think he would be picking up a guitar or getting out of a house, this record is a hell of a thing, just fantastic. There’s not one song of his that I don’t like. That music is timeless.

“My criticism of the record is that they sounded a little bit more disconnected than some of his other bands and a hesitant at times. They’re trying to anticipate this guy who isn’t used to being anticipated. I liked it, but I don’t think it’s on par with The Evil One or Don’t Slander Me. I think it’s more of a warm-up, a man coming back into the studio and back into his voice.”

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