Aside from the recent single "Duk Koo Kim," which appears on the album in an alternate form, "Ghosts" constitutes the release of Kozelek's first new music in nearly two years.
Even though he got a hand from Red House Painters drummer Anthony Koustos in the studio, group leader Mark Kozelek opted to christen his latest project Sun Kil Moon. The new outfit's debut album, "Ghosts of the Great Highway," arrives Nov. 4 via Jetset. Aside from the recent single "Duk Koo Kim," which appears on the album in an alternate form, "Ghosts" constitutes the release of Kozelek's first new music in nearly two years.
"I just wanted a new beginning to things and didn't really want my name on the cover," Kozelek tells Billboard.com. "I came up with a title and we're trying something different." Red House Painters fans fear not, because Kozelek says he's "really confident" the group will eventually record another album for Sub Pop, which released 2001's acclaimed "Old Ramon."
For now though, his focus is on "Ghosts of the Great Highway," on which he has worked for the better part of the last year-and-a-half. The 10-track set is highlighted by two of the most entrancing songs Kozelek has penned in years: the bittersweet "Carry Me Ohio," which ruminates on his childhood in the Buckeye state, and the gorgeous "Gentle Moon," a largely acoustic cut tinged with accompaniment from a string trio.
"I never know what's going to end up being for the band or what's going to end up being something I record on my own," Kozelek says. "Duk Koo Kim," named after the South Korean boxer who died after a 1982 fight with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, turned out to be a little of both, as it dates back several years to the Painters' last tour.
At nearly 15 minutes, the track hearkens back to similarly long early Painters favorites such as "Katy Song" and "Down Colorful Hill." "When something feels right, it just keeps going," Kozelek says, when asked to discuss his predilection for penning such epic songs. "I think that song just seems right to me at that length."
Three more boxers who lost their lives in the ring are referenced in "Salvador Sanchez," while "Pancho Villa" is named after yet another doomed pugilist who died fighting in the 1920s. Kozelek attributes this to nothing more than being "a huge boxing fan. I'm fan of a lot of things and sometimes there are just little references that end up coming out in the music."
Although he will play select solo shows later this fall, Kozelek is in the process of assembling a band to tour in support of "Ghosts of the Great Highway," with an eye on hitting the road early next year. He is hoping Koustos will agree to join the lineup, because "I feel like if he'll do it, then the foundation is laid."
"It's going to be interesting," he continues, "because I've been playing with the same guys for close to 15 years. It's going to be a different experience."