In an ode to iconic author Jack Kerouac, alt-country veteran Jay Farrar has teamed up with Death Cab for Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard for a collaborative album entitled “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur,” Billboard.com has learned. The twelve song set is due October 20 via F-Stop/Atlantic and will serve as the soundtrack to the Kerouac documentary of the same title. Farrar and Gibbard were approached by the filmmakers in 2007 about writing music for the film, which documents the events surrounding the author’s time spent in the Big Sur region of California.
Both musicians are long time Kerouac fans and according to Farrar, about 90% of the album’s lyrics draw directly from the Big Sur text, including the poem “Sea: Sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur.” The recordings came to fruition over the course of three years, with the initial session taking place in San Francisco during summer 2007.
“I’d never met Jay before, and we found ourselves in a studio with a film crew, just blinking at each other, diving right into recording sessions,” Gibbard tells Billboard.com. “In that first session, we did 3 or 4 songs together. We had the trepidation of not really knowing each other; getting to know each other in real time as we were recording made for a beautiful recording.”
From there, Gibbard spent a week with Farrar in St. Louis during February 2008 and finalized the last track in Los Angeles in January 2009. Both Gibbard and Farrar share vocal duties, and are augmented by Brad Sarno on pedal steel, Aaron Espinoza on bass for the title track and Mark Spencer on multiple instruments. Farrar contributes various guitars, percussion and harmonica elements and Gibbard contributes guitars as well as drums on several tracks.
“One Fast Move or I’m Gone” comes on the heels of Farrar’s latest Son Volt release “American Central Dust,” which after release in July 2009 has sold 21,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan. Son Volt’s best seller to date has been 1995’s debut “Trace,” which has sold 297,000. Death Cab for Cutie’s last full length was 2008’s “Narrow Stairs,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 540,000. (Gibbard stayed in the original cabin Kerouac wrote about while compose songs that album.)
“There was a familiarity to Kerouac’s words,” Farrar says of taking on this project. “There was an element of a kid being left in charge of the candy store, in a way. Jack’s method of writing- the idea that you get raw ideas out there, the stream of consciousness method, I’ve always appreciated it.”
Farrar also says that pre-production or any real plans were next to nothing for this recording, describing it as “essentially a deconstruction of the recording process.”
“It wasn’t so much an effortless recording session, but it felt like the songs were in the drivers seat,” Gibbard adds. “We were very conscious not to over produce them and add layers of vocals or overdubs. In my own home demoing, I’m a flagrant overdubber. They [Farrar and Spencer] kept it really sparse, and I’m really drawn to that. How few things are happening; there’s not a lot of adornment around [the songs] and I like that.”
The album will be billed as “Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard” and will come four different physical options: CD, CD+DVD, a box set packaged with the CD+DVD, the novel, and a 40 page book on the film and finally a vinyl version. The film will be released on Oct. 20. Although nothing has been finalized, Farrar says he and Gibbard are currently plotting a two week tour, tentatively eyeing the end of October.
Here is the track list for “One Fast Move or I’m Gone”:
“Low Life Kingdom”
“All In One”
“Breathe Our Iodine”
“These Roads Don’t Move”
“One Fast Move or I’m Gone”