Shakey Graves on new album ‘Can’t Wake Up,’ opening for Paul McCartney at ACL Fest

“Can’t Wake Up,” the first new full-length from Austin’s Shakey Graves since his 2014 breakthrough, “And the War Came,” drops on May 4, and sonically, it’s a departure for the Americana standout. The folksy sensibility and witty lyricism are still there, but the new songs emerge through a psychedelic haze. No longer the singer-songwriter with a one-man band who charmed audiences at the Hole in the Wall, he’s now making rich indie rock for a full ensemble.

Shakey Graves in Austin in May 2018. Deborah Sengupta Stith/American-Statesman

Austin fans who pre-purchase the album are invited to a special performance at GSD&M’s Back Lawn at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 3. You can pay for your copy of the album and pick up a wristband for the show across the street at Waterloo Records. Fans who already pre-purchased online should check their email for an invite.

After the release, the artist also known as Alejandro Rose-Garcia embarks on an extensive North American tour, playing large venues across the country including a Stubb’s show in Austin on June 16. Many of the dates are already sold out. He wraps the tour with a headlining gig at Denver’s magnificent Red Rocks Amphitheater in August. Then he’ll be back home for the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October.

We caught up with Rose-Garcia to talk about strange daydreams, the state of the world and what we can expect from his live shows this year.

Austin360: Talk to me about the title of the album, “Can’t Wake Up.” Where did that come from?

It kind of came naturally … really far on. I kind of waited until I had all the music and lyrics and kind of looked at it as a piece and tried to figure out what ties it all together. Something that I subconsciously did was talked about dreams a lot. Not dreams, like specifically dreaming, but fantasy and kind of irrational fears and regret. Just sort of like a bunch of head stuff, when you get trapped in your own head. I guess “Can’t Wake Up” is that. It’s when you get trapped in and you kind of can’t snap out of something.

There’s a hazy, dreamy quality to a lot of the songs.

I feel like there’s something zeitgeist-y that feels like that in the world right now. Not in a negative sense, but it feels like we’re kind of stuck in the middle of something, I’m not sure what. But as humanity we’re like, “We’ll go to other planets and Teslas and free thought and medical breakthroughs,” and also just like burning coal and hating each other … just destroying everything.

Shakey Graves performs for a small crowd of fans, friends, and contest winners at Geraldine’s on Rainey Street during SXSW 2018 in March. JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Your sound is very different on this album.

That’s funny too, because it’s still recorded in the same way that I’ve always made music. I made most of it in my house. A lot of the songs are me playing everything. It’s just that I’m into different stuff now. I seek different audio experiences. It’s very surreal.

Is part of it that you can afford to hire a band now? In the early days it was always just you.

That is true, but that also didn’t really affect my recording process, because I would just fake something. … There’s a lot more at my fingertips (now). I can play a piano or a mellotron or play drums or bass. I used to just have a guitar and so, of course, the music that comes out of me is going to be different. But it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t hearing this even when I just had a guitar. And it doesn’t mean that we have arrived at what I actually sound like. I hope to continue to just grow, I guess.

You say that the stuff you’re listening to is different. What kind of stuff are you into right now?

There was a time when I was only listening to prewar music or music from the ‘30s or Alan Lomax. There was something that I really liked about old music. And then also, I’ve always supplemented that with a really odd dosage of contemporary saccharine pop music. I’ve just always liked pop music and really loud aggressive noise music. Somewhere in between that is what I like.

That actually makes sense. I see you as somebody who’s approaching old-timey Americana with a very aggressive attitude.

Absolutely … I was one of those people who didn’t grow up liking the Beatles … kind of revolted against it. Now is the time I’m getting to actually experience the Beatles … and a bunch of the Kinks and stuff like that. A bunch of British pop music is now kind of in the forefront.

Shakey Graves performs for a small crowd of fans, friends, and contest winners during SXSW 2018 in March. JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

So you’ve moved from the ‘30s to the ‘60s is what you’re saying?

That’s exactly right … you nailed it.

Speaking of the Beatles, you’re on ACL Fest with Paul McCartney this year. How does that feel?

I’m really excited to check that out. ACL can be a tough festival to watch music at. Even when you play … you still have to fight your way in. I felt much less urge to fight my way to the front to see Deadmaus play. … But yeah, I’ll push my way forward to see Paul McCartney. I’ve never seen him and might not again.

David Byrne’s who I’m the most excited about. I’m reading his book right now and it’s saving my brain. … He put it out a little while ago. It’s called “How Music Works”… as I’m trying to design a new show … it’s helping me brainstorm ways to translate this record … and not have it seem alienating or inconsistent with other songs during the show. And also to make sure that even though there are going to be a lot of new soundscapes on the stage it still feels like you’re watching me do it.

What’s going to be different?

For instance, I play keys a lot on the record. … It’s all the questions. Do I want to stand and play a keyboard? Am I cool with sitting down? What does my stage look like? Can I make sitting down … feel like you’re in my house with me? Is there a way to make synthetic instruments feel homey? I’m going to try. … I have some tricks up my sleeve.

Shakey Graves poses for a portrait during SXSW 2018 in March. JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

IT’S McCARTNEY: A deeper look at the 2018 ACL Fest lineup

It’s McCartney: ACL Fest pulls off its biggest-name headliner in years

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It’s official: Rumors circulating in recent weeks that Paul McCartney might play the Austin City Limits Music Festival were confirmed Tuesday morning when the legendary Beatle was announced as the marquee headliner for both weekends of this fall’s fest in Zilker Park.

Paul McCartney will headline this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2013

Joining him at the top of the bill are Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Metallica (leaked in a Facebook Live post on Monday night), rapper Childish Gambino (who destroyed his set the last time he played the fest), recently reunited English rockers Arctic Monkeys, Houston native rapper Travis Scott and electronica sensation Odesza.

PHOTOS: Who’s playing ACL Fest 2018? 

McCartney’s last Austin appearance was a two-night stand at the Erwin Center in May 2013. Both he and Metallica are playing the festival for the first time and are making their only North American festival appearances this year at ACL Fest, which runs Oct. 5-7 and Oct. 12-14. Weekend passes, $255 plus fees (layaway plans also offered), are available now via the festival’s website.

RELATED: Review of Paul McCartney at the Erwin Center in May 2013

Despite speculation after Coachella, a Beyonce appearance at ACL Fest was always a pipe dream, but the lineup does include Janelle Monae, another powerful woman currently disrupting the system with her radical femininity. Other prominent women playing the fest include Dallas-raised St. Vincent, R&B/pop singer Tinashe, English pop star Lily Allen (weekend two only) and singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, along with a few female-fronted acts: Scottish pop pixies Chvrches, synth duo Sylvan Esso and alt-rock pioneers the Breeders.

RELATED: Here’s how you can take a party boat to ACL Fest 2018

They join a handful of prominent acts whose names were leaked over the weekend through a parody TV ad on KXAN for the fictional pharmaceutical Acielle (zilkerus festum), including art-pop icon David Byrne, El Paso teen sensation Khalid, indie chart-toppers the National, Puerto Rican rapper Residente, dance scene standouts Jungle, Austin singer-songwriter Shakey Graves, Prince’s backing band the Revolution and Indiana pop outfit Houndmouth.

More acts announced Tuesday include Hozier, Justice, Borns, Father John Misty, Manchester Orchestra, Illenium, Elle King, Bishop Briggs, Bahamas, Mt. Joy, Cuco, Durand Jones & the Indications, Alvvays, Parquet Courts, Brockhampton, Rezz, San Holo and Natalie Prass.

As usual, some artists will appear on just one of the festival’s two weekends. Among those exclusive to the first weekend are Camila Cabello, the Deftones, Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Loeb, Greta Van Fleet, Sofi Tukker and Phil Cook. Acts playing only the second weekend include Shawn Mendes, Marian Hill, RhyeTrampled by Turtles and Nicole Atkins.

Shakey Graves, who has a new album out this week, is the biggest Austin name on the bill but not the only one. Golden Dawn Arkestra will join him in playing both weekends, while the first weekend also will feature locals Sweet Spirit, Jackie Venson, Molly Burch and Sailor Poon, along with Dallas acts the Relatives and Texas Gentlemen plus Houston’s Khruangbin. Local and regional acts playing the second weekend include Charley Crockett, Duncan Fellows, Harry Paradise, Kydd Jones and Curtis Roush. Among longstanding ACL Fest traditions, western swing kingpins Asleep at the Wheel will play the first weekend only, while the Barton Hills Choir will appear both weekends.

Part of the speculation from here on out will be whether McCartney might tape an episode of the “Austin City Limits” TV show while he’s in town. The outside possibility of that happening in 2013 fell away when McCartney added a second Erwin Center date; a quick examination of McCartney’s tour schedule over the years confirms that he never plays concerts more than two days in a row. This time, though, with Austin shows on successive weekends, it seems at least conceivable for a taping to happen in between.

READ MORE: Austin musicians list a variety of reasons to appreciate McCartney

ACL Fest comes clean and reveals a headliner in Facebook Live post

The full Austin City Limits Festival lineup will be revealed Tuesday at 10 a.m., but festival organizers revealed more artists in a Facebook Live post shot at a laundromat on Monday night.

Metallica headlines X Games Austin on the Super Stage at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, June 6, 2015. (Suzanne Cordeiro / For American-Statesman)

In the video, festival staffers retrieve band t-shirts from a row of tumbling dryers then flash them at the camera. For the most part the tees were from artists who were revealed in a television ad earlier this weekend, but there was one big reveal. Heavy metal titans Metallica will take one of the headline spots at the festival.

As each t-shirt flashed, the comment section exploded with guesses on which artist it belonged to. Savvy viewers said they spotted shirts for Japanese Breakfast and Arctic Monkeys along with these folks who we already knew were coming:

  • David Byrne
  • Sylvan Esso
  • Khalid
  • Residente
  • the National
  • Chvrches
  • Jungle
  • Shakey Graves
  • the Revolution
  • Trampled by Turtles
  • Houndmouth.

ACL Fest just sneakily revealed a peek at the festival’s 2018 lineup

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Austin City Limits Festival organizers revealed a portion of the lineup for this year’s festival with a clever ad that aired on Austin NBC affiliate KXAN on Friday night.  The spot peddled a drug called Acielle (zilkerus festum) aimed at patients “struggling with a lack of musical exposure.” Mixed in with a list of outcomes like “permagrin” and “liquid courage” were artists from this year’s roster.

CHVRCHES performs at the Radio Day Stage during South by Southwest on Friday March 18, 2016. (JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Art-pop icon David Byrne, synth duo Sylvan Esso, teen sensation Khalid and Puerto Rican rapper Residente will all play the fest this year. Also on the bill are mope-core lifers the National,  Scottish pop pixies Chvrches, U.K.  dance scene standouts Jungle, local singer-songwriter Shakey Graves, Prince’s backing band the Revolution, Trampled by Turtles and Houndmouth.

RELATED: Who will play ACL Fest? Beyoncé? Janelle Monae?

The ad will air on the station again Saturday at 10:45 p.m. and the full ACL Fest lineup will be released on Tuesday, when weekend passes go on sale.

So where does this leave our speculation?

Well, we correctly called four of these artists and seeing Prince’s old backing band in the mix while Janelle Monae is giving interviews about her creative relationship with the Purple One, gives us a very good feeling about our most coveted pick.

 

Save the date: ACL Fest tickets will go on sale next week

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Heads up: Details about the 2018 Austin City Limits Music Festival are coming soon. Organizers announced this morning via social media that tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 1, when the lineup will be released.

Ticket and lineup details for the Austin City Limits Music Festival are coming soon. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

RELATED: ACL Fest 2018 speculation: Will we get Janelle Monae, Garbage, Chvrches or Lauryn Hill?

This year’s ACL Fest dates are Oct. 5-7 and Oct. 12-14. Three-day passes for each weekend, $255 plus fees, will be be available first. Single-day tickets typically go on sale a few months later.

Room to roam in Zilker Park increased a little bit last year, with one stage moving to the south side of Barton Springs Road (in a spot previously used for production facilities).

READ MORE: Beyonce just owned Coachella. Could ACL Fest be next?

Beyoncé just owned Coachella, could Bey-CL Fest be next?

We’re not going to spend a lot of time dissecting the epic performance by Houston superstar Beyoncé at Coachella last weekend.

Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend One. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella )

You can read more about the set that transformed the Indio, Calif. festival into #BeyChella here. Or here.  Or here.  Suffice it to say, it was a monumental event. Beyond the spectacular choreography and artistic mastery, it’s a cultural touchstone we’ll be talking about for years to come.

RELATED: Predicting the ACL Fest 2018 lineup

It rocked our world. Not just the lucky (and largely wealthy) Coachella festival attendees, but the rest of us who tuned in worldwide via livestream, or shoddy after-the-fact bootleg recording.

Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella )

So what does this mean for Austin’s own big live music festival, Austin City Limits? As we’ve already observed, the Carters’ joint “On the Run II” tour plays Houston and Arlington, but not San Antonio or Austin, and it wraps on October 4, the day before ACL Fest weekend one kicks off.

Worth noting, Bey’s home state Texas did get a lot of shoutouts in the performance, which had a strong Dirty South vibe throughout.

But Mr. Carter, Jay-Z, headlined the festival last year, which rules out any sort of a joint ACL Fest showing. And Bey’s elaborate touring set up would be difficult to recreate in a festival setting. Beyond that, do we really believe ACL Fest producers are going to shell out the massive amounts of cash it would require to persuade Mrs. Carter not to go home and chill with her kids after a grueling tour? Not really.

Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella )

Also, this is how New York Times writer Jon Caramanica opens his review of her Coachella set:

“There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon.”

The bar ‘Yoncé  set for herself was stratospherically high. The Coachella set was like a Super Bowl Half-time show reimagined as an incredible hour and 45 minute performance. It was an appearance meticulously crafted to create the collective jaw-dropping of an entire nation. And it succeeded triumphantly.

Sure, she’ll do it again for the Cali crowd this weekend, but, sorry folks, but we don’t anticipate a repeat showing in Zilker Park.

INDIO, CA – APRIL 14: Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella )

ACL Fest 2018 Speculation: Will we get Janelle Monae, Garbage, Chvrches or Lauryn Hill?

UPDATE, 5/4/18: Paul McCartney is coming, and he’s bringing friends. ACL Fest pulls off its biggest-name headliner in years. Here’s the lineup.

UPDATE: We aren’t likely to see the official lineup for Austin City Limits Festival until next month, but as fall tours are starting to take shape, we’re getting a sense of which artists will be kicking around our part of the world with open tour dates during the festival. Here are a few artists on our ACL-watch radar.

CHVRCHES performs at the Radio Day Stage during South by Southwest on Friday March 18, 2016. (JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Scottish electro-pop act Chvrches announced a string of fall tour dates that find our favorite synthesizer pixies moving from Milwaukee on Oct. 4 to Birmingham on Oct. 8, leaving them wide open and in the South during weekend one of the festival (Oct. 5-7).  Then they have a NOLA gig on Oct. 11 followed by a Nashville gig on Oct. 15, an itinerary which seems well-suited to an Austin stop-over during weekend two (Oct 12-14).

RELATED: Does the epic Bey-chella performance mean Bey-CL fest could happen?

Speaking of Scottish bands that might play ACL Fest, ’90s rockers Garbage also announced a set of new tour dates on Monday. The band is doing a limited tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 1998 album “Version 2.0” in October. The dates don’t line up quite as well, but they’ll be in Las Vegas on Oct. 5 and Tempe, Ariz. on Oct. 7 with a free Saturday on weekend one. On weekend two they move from Dallas and Houston to Tulsa with a free date on Sunday, Oct. 14. Not sure if we’ll see them on the full bill, but a late night show seems likely.

Oh, and since we’re on the subject of 20th anniversary tours, the most important album released in America in 1998 was Lauryn Hill’s monumental “Miseducation.” She embarks on a tour to support the album this fall that includes dates in Houston and Dallas, but not Austin. Her tour wraps on Oct. 5 in St. Louis, giving her plenty of time to dip back into Texas for our benefit. And before you grouse about how Lauryn Hill couldn’t make it to a fest on time, just remember that time in 2015 when she triumphantly delivered the final closing set of Fun Fun Fun Fest. She hit the stage five minutes early.

RELATED: ‘What is meant to be will be’ Lauryn Hill at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Singer/actor Janelle Monae at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER at Dolby Theatre on January 29, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney)

Finally, since this has turned into us rattling off a list of amazing female artists that we want to see at ACL Fest, let’s not forget that Janelle Monae, who’s been steady breaking the internet for the last couple months with a string of fantastic singles from her new album “Dirty Computer.” The album drops on Friday with an accompanying 45-minute “emotion picture” premiering on MTV and BET on Thursday.

EARLIER, MARCH 26: The lineup for Austin City Limits Festival generally doesn’t come out until early May, but now that lineups for the big three spring/summer festivals, Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza have been released, we can begin making educated guesses about who might show up in Zilker Park in October.

Eminem performs at the 2014 ACL Fest. Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

Let’s start at the top. Last year, Jay-Z was the big ACL Fest headliner. Could we the other Carter, Beyoncé, who headlines Coachella, this go round? It would be a bold move, one that would shut down naysayers who panned last year’s ACL lineup as underwhelming. It would also sell the fest out instantly. The Carters’ joint “On the Run II” tour plays Houston and Arlington, but not San Antonio or Austin and it wraps on October 4, the day before ACL Fest weekend one kicks off. But Bey’s elaborate performance set up is difficult to recreate in a festival setting and do we really believe ACL organizers are going to shell out the massive amounts of cash it would require to convince Mrs. Carter not to go home and chill with her kids after a grueling tour? Not really.

Bonnaroo and Coachella headliner Eminem, who drew one of the largest crowds we’ve ever seen at ACL when he played the fest in 2014, seems like a much surer bet. Tickets are still available for Lollapalooza headliner Jack White’s May 2 show at the Austin360 Amphitheater, but he still seems like a likely candidate for the ACL 2018 lineup. At first glance it would seem like the Weeknd,  who headlines Coachella and Lollapalooza, would be out because he headlined ACL in 2015, but he played Lollapalooza that year too, so a reprise of  Abel Tesfaye’s brilliant, but somewhat creepy, seems very possible.

The Weeknd performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Sunday October 4, 2015. (JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The lovely indie rock of Bon Iver, who hasn’t played the fest since 2009, will likely serenade Zilker Park, and perennial ACL faves the National and Vampire Weekend are both available in October and would be solid, but safe, choices. After playing Coachella, St. Vincent fests her way across Europe, but she’ll be back in time for ACL and the first lady of Top Dawg Entertainment, Sza, plays the amphitheater with her crew (including Kendrick Lamar) in May, but could easily return  in October to make her ACL debut. After the fest came under fire for a lack of Latinx artist representation last year, booking Miguel, who did a surprise pop-in at South by Southwest last week and has a sold out show at Stubb’s in April, would be a big draw and a good look.

PHOTOS: Miguel plays the Mohawk during SXSW 2018  

David Byrne, who plays Coachella, has a tour that hits Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, but skips Austin. He seems like an obvious choice for one of this year’s legacy artists. Miranda Lambert doesn’t show up on any of the other big festival lineups, but over the past several years ACL has booked at least one mainstream country artist and Lambert’s summer tour hits Houston and Dallas, but not Austin, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see her on the lineup.

Billie Ellish performs at the VEVO House during South by Southwest on March 14, 2018. (Photo by Erika Rich)

Because the ACL lineup keeps getting younger, we also wouldn’t be surprised to see America’s favorite new boy band Brockhampton, 16-year-old SXSW breakout Billie Eilish and El Paso pop superstar Khalid in the mix.