Fables For Fighters

by Chris Velan

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about

Montreal-based singer-songwriter, Chris Velan, has learned over time that by scrutinizing his own world, he has a fighting chance of understanding the world around him.

“I have two lenses,” he admits. “The small one is focused internally, learning about myself. The large one point’s outward, observing how the world works in its complexity. I try to find my own truths on both those levels of inquiry.”

Searching for these truths since first picking up a guitar at the age of nine, Velan’s journey to un- derstand how he and the world itself operates has taken him down two distinct paths: law and mu- sic. In his early 20s, Velan was determined to make sense of humanity’s struggles through a career in law, only to realize - after collaborating on the Si- erra Leone’s Refugee All Stars’ documentary - that he could make as great an impact through music by its simple yet profound ability to connect people.

Velan’s journey to make that connection culminates in his fourth full-length effort, Fables For Fighters (NewSong Recordings/Fontana North). Motivated by a range of influences spanning 70s’ singer- songwriters, blues, rock, 80s alternative, West Af- rican music and reggae, Fables For Fighters finds Velan at his most poetically versatile. Written while touring in support of his previous effort Solidago (2009), Fables For Fighters furthers Velan’s goal to carve out his own path, directly inspired by the loneliness, searching, exhilaration and exhaustion of a nomadic musical lifestyle.

“This album emerges from a distinct time-frame in my life. I’m inspired by the life I want - or don’t want - to live and see things differently from people with a rigid daily life. It can sometimes feel like a weird state of suspended animation,” he says. “A lot of the songs were written from the fringes of my emotions. Even when I hear the album now, the space and emotion of these songs and moments come back to me.”

To ensure that Fables For Fighters conveyed the rawness of the material, Velan and renowned producer, Iestyn Polson (David Gray, Patti Smith, David Bowie), tracked the songs live in-studio before squirreling away for a month to subsequently create the album’s sonic atmosphere through additional instrumentation.

“Iestyn was adamant from the start that we needed live takes to capture whatever it is that’s true and real about these songs. We spent the whole month of July – the hottest on record - rehearsing the songs over and over again in a stone sub-basement in Brooklyn to get the arrangement and feel just right. We sweated like fiends. The whole city was like a clay oven, radiating heat. But with all that slow-cooking we went through, we were able to bang out eleven tracks in three days, live off the floor. It was exhausting but very rewarding.”

Polson and Velan spent the following month locked down in a small project studio, searching like mad scientists for the right kinds of overdub sounds to compliment the takes.

“The room was strewn with analog synths, omnich- ords and percussion instruments from all corners of the world,” he says. “Even the building itself was an instrument with the wood shop machines below us vibrating through the old floors.”

Broadened by Polson’s experience and divergent methods, Velan takes greater personal risks than ever with Fables For Fighters, turning in an impeccably balanced album, uniting unforgettable rhythms and melodies with unhindered sentiment and subtle delivery. The resulting album is one of contrasts. Sonically, it has a quality to it that is both timeless and new, intimate and cinematic, open and claustrophobic, haunting and reassuring. Thematically, the songs strive to balance the pains of struggle with the hope of transformation; the very personal search for one’s place in the world.

“With a couple of albums and a lot traveled miles now under my belt, I feel like I’ve arrived at a place where I better understand who I am as an artist and a songwriter. It’s a foothold that I’ve worked hard to find. I wanted the album to reflect that hard- worn growth by being as honest and intuitive in its recording as it could be,” says Velan. “I ended up putting a lot of its direction in Iestyn’s hands, who pushed me to capture the emotion and raw energy of my live shows. It was liberating.”

Ultimately, Velan’s efforts result in a beautifully intricate juxtaposition of music, creative process and life.

Going back to those who inspired him creatively years before, Velan had the opportunity to reunite with this friends, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, to record his stand-alone single,“Iñez,” released in December 2010, in advance of Fables For Fighters.

“These are the guys who, by their example, recon- nected me to my own music and need to create. Recording “Iñez” with them as I headed into the release of this new album served as a perfect re- minder of why I choose to make music.”

credits

released April 15, 2011

Produced andMixed by Iestyn Polson
All songs by Chris Velan
Chris Velan/Getaway Van, SOCAN/ASCAP
Executive Producer: Gar Ragland

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Track Name: Any Number Of Ways
ANY NUMBER OF WAYS

Winding down the end of time
We drank thirteen bottles of wine
Wrapped in furs and feeling bold
We walked out into the cold
Gathered ‘round the ancient fire
Singing like a bloodshot choir
And through the flames I recognized
Something different in your eyes

This could happen in any number of ways
I’ll close my eyes and not wake up for days

Then we jumped in the river but the river was hard
Frozen like a midnight boulevard
The dogs showed up in an angry pack
They howled at us and we howled back
Then I was sick upon the snow
Bathed in a pale moonlight glow
From what came out I could gleam
Parts of me that I’d never seen

This could happen in any number of ways
I’ll buy tomorrow with all of my yesterdays

Just then to my great surprise
I grew two hundred times my size
I stepped over the forest wide
And crossed the valley in one stride
Brushing stars and full of joy
I made it clear to Illinois
When the dawn brought to my mind
All that I had left behind

This could happen in any number of ways
I’ll bribe tomorrow with all of my yesterdays

By the time that I returned
Smoke rose where the fire had burned
And all around were silent souls
Staring into ash and coals
The sun rose and we sat awhile
I kissed your sad, sad smile
Before I could say the words
You turned into a flock of birds
Feathered fury beating away

This could happen in any number of ways
I’ll close my eyes and not wake up for days
Yeah this could happen in any number of ways
I’ll bribe tomorrow with all of my yesterdays
Yesterdays
Track Name: Oceans Ago
OCEANS AGO

We were made of stars
We were dying in cars
That was oceans ago
And I’m sure you were there
With the sun in your hair
That was oceans ago

And I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it
I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it
We thought it was good just because it seemed it
I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it

We believed it was true
We would know what to do
That was oceans ago

We wouldn’t get caught
We could never be bought
That was oceans ago

And I think that it happened but I could have dreamed it
I think that it happened but I could have dreamed it
We though it was good just because it seemed it
I think that happened but I could have dreamed it

I’ve got a deep misgiving
That someone else has been living my whole life

There were promises made we already betrayed
That was oceans ago, oceans ago, oceans ago

And the tide went out
Leaving shadows and doubt
In those oceans ago

Then the tide came in
With a way to begin
In those oceans ago
In the oceans ago


And I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it
I think that it happened but I could have dreamed it
We thought it was good just because it seemed it
I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it
And I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it
I think that it happened but I could have dreamed
We thought it was good just because it seemed it
I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it
Oceans ago
Oceans ago

We were made of stars
We dying in cars
That was oceans ago
Track Name: Interrogate Me
INTERROGATE ME


You’re pretty good
With your kung fu
You’re a secret double agent
You should know that I’m one too
You don’t fight
With the safety on
I’m sure you’ve got your reasons
The traps are set the lines are drawn

I’ll tell you what I told them
I’ll tell you what I told them
Interrogate me
‘Cause I can bring you down from the inside
Inside out
Interrogate me
I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy
Interrogate me
I can bring you down from the inside
Inside out
Interrogate me
I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy, hey, hey

Insurgent heart
They got a file on you
I’m going undercover
I won’t up until I’m through
The microfilm
Is in my throat
Since we’re trading secrets
Tell me where’s the antidote

I’ll tell you what I told them
I’ll tell you what I told them
Interrogate me
‘Cause I can bring you down from the inside
Inside out
Interrogate me
I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy
Interrogate me
I can bring you down from the inside
Inside out
Interrogate me
I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy, hey, hey
The code is broken
Password’s sold
This revolution’s getting old
The safe house is overcrowded
Everyone’s coming in from the cold
Truth serum is wearing off
Make me your Kalichnikov
I’ve said too much already
Where’s that pill, where that’s pill

I’ll tell you what I told them
I’ll tell you what I told them
Interrogate me
‘Cause I can bring you down from the inside
Inside out
Interrogate me
I can link your daddy to the Cosa Nostra
Interrogate me
‘Cause I can bring you down from the inside
Inside out
Interrogate me
I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy
Interrogate me
I can take you down from the inside
Inside out
Interrogate me
I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy

I can take you down
I can take you down
I can bring you down

I will take you down
I will bring you down
I will take you down
Track Name: You Don't Know What You're Asking Of Me
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ASKING ME

You wanted me to bend
So I bent like a tree
To become the man that you wanted me to me
I leaned so hard
That I though I would break
I leaned so hard
And that was my mistake

You don’t know
What you’re asking of me
You don’t know
What you’re asking of me

To prove my love
You set out three tests
Three reasons for your unhappiness
And I passed them all
For you I prevailed
I passed them all
But I still failed

You don’t know
What you’re asking of me
You don’t know
What you’re asking of me
Is it harder than you thought
Being cruel and free
And you don’t know
What you’re asking of me

Now you call me up
When you’re mind’s in doubt
To weigh the cost
And to feel me out
But the answer was carved
On the stone you cast
The answer’s fading
In the past

You don’t know
What you’re asking of me
You don’t know
What you’re asking of me
Is it harder than you thought
Being cruel and free
You don’t know
What you’re asking of me
No, you don’t know
What you’re asking of me
You don’t know
What you’re asking of me
No, you don’t know what you’re asking of me
Track Name: Hurting You Kind
HURTING YOU KIND

You’ve been stung
Come undone
Heart left on the road
Heart left on the road
Things you knew
You thought were true
They walked out on you
They walked out on you

But I think you’re going to find
That I’m not the walking out kind
Yes I think you’re going to find
I’m not the walking out kind

Changed your name
Lost your flame
You gave yourself away
You gave yourself away
So you said
He played with your head
‘Till it hurt to stay
‘Till it hurt to stay

But please leave the past behind
Cause I’m not the hurting you kind
Won’t you leave the past behind
Cause I’m not the hurting you kind

Can’t move time
To prove that I’m
I am a man apart
I’m a man apart
You don’t trust
My words aren’t just
There to fool your heart
There to fool your heart

But I’d wish you’d ease your mind
Cause I’m not the fooling you kind
Please won’t you ease your mind
‘Cause I’m not the fooling you kind
Track Name: There Goes Sara
THERE GOES SARA



She comes from a mermaid clan
In a faraway loch, in a faraway land
And when she starts to rock
She takes a windmill stand
And blows them all away

The people come to hear her sing
She loves to name most everything
And she will mend
Your broken wing
To help you fly away (there she goes again)


Chorus
There goes Sara, there goes Sara
There goes Sara, there goes Sara
There goes Sara, there goes Sara again

She doesn’t need to pass your test
The keeps it all close to her chest
She always does her very best
To what she says she will
She told me once she can’t allow
Anyone to tell her how
And I loved her then
As I love her now
As I will love her still (there she goes again)

There goes Sara, there goes Sara
There goes Sara, there goes Sara
There goes Sara, there goes Sara again


Don’t you cross her, man
She’ll leave you bleeding at the bar
Horses can kill her
But she loves them from afar
She loves them from afar
Yeah, she loves them from afar

Raised by wolves she’s got the saddest eyes
Oh, she will cut you down to size
She’s got a thing for Italian guys
But says she prefers me
She’s a daughter of the Maritimes
Yeah, she can solve the hardest crimes
Though I have found a thousand times
That she’s the mystery (there she goes again)

Chorus
Track Name: Scatterbrain
SCATTERBRAIN

Serious moment, serious hair
Serious table, serious chair
Serious clothes covering me
I may shake that serious hand
It feels like it’s already planned
And I’m so tired seriously

You weren’t kidding when you wrote
It’s not even worth a note
If you can’t lose it all

Maybe I’m a scatterbrain
Maybe I’m a scatterbrain
But I can’t afford to be
I can’t afford to be
There it’s said

Serious building, serious hours
Serious people with serious powers
I would rather be with you
I get into to serious trouble
When I burst my serious bubble
And I don’t know what to do

You weren’t kidding when you cried
If you want to take the ride
You need both feet inside

Maybe I’m a scatterbrain
Maybe I’m a scatterbrain
But I can’t afford to be
I can’t afford to be
There it’s said

Oh, let it go
Oh, make it so
Oh, never mind
Oh, you’ll always find

Maybe I’m a scatterbrain
Maybe I’m a scatterbrain
But I can’t afford to be
I can’t afford to be
There it’s said
Track Name: You Owe Nothing
YOU OWE NOTHING



Time to prepare for the great surrender
Been so long that you can’t remember
How it feels to fill your lungs with
Air
Unclench your fists you’re the last one standing
The armies that you’ve been commanding
Vanish as if they were never there
And just like that
You forgot what you were fighting for

You owe nothing anymore

The weight hanging ‘round your neck’s been lifted
The winds beating down your door have shifted
The oath you swore you’d keep has been laid to rest
The wounds that you wore that gave you purpose
Close as you swim up towards the surface
And what will you do now that you’ve passed the test
‘Cause who you are is not who you were before

You owe nothing anymore
You owe nothing anymore


Step back from the edge
Stop growing colder
You don’t have to look
Over your shoulder
The phantoms haunting you
Are now your friends
And the truth that you hoped would set you free
Is not what you thought
That it would be
But it’s enough to let you make amends
Your debts are paid
There is no one keeping score

You owe nothing anymore
You owe nothing anymore
You owe nothing anymore
Track Name: Same Clothes
Same Clothes

On the day that I was born
They say I came out wearing these same clothes
Since then I’ve been trying to find out
Where I got these same clothes
I went to every store asked every tailor there could be
Wondering if somebody had the same clothes as me
It took a while but I’ve learned
There’s nobody with these same clothes

When I wake this morning
I’ll get up, put on these same clothes
Step into the sunlight
And start walking in these same clothes
When the air turns cold and the clouds bring the rain
These clothes they will protect me ‘till the skies clear up again
And against the wind I will button up
The collar on these same clothes

When we first met, I’m sure that I was
Showing off these same clothes
And when I gave my heart to you
I did so in these same clothes
Before we made love you peeled off each one from my skin
‘Till there was nothing left to keep you from coming in
And you saw who I am
In the absence of these same clothes

When they get dirty
I wash them with care, oh these same clothes
And when they lose a button or they tear
I mend these same clothes
On those days when I dwell not on what is but what is not
I look at other people and I want the clothes they’ve got
Until I realize I could have nothing
But these same clothes

And our children will know what it means
To have a loving home
But there are things they’ll have to figure out on their own
I promise I won’t ever try
To make them where these same clothes

When I leave this world
Please separate me from these same clothes
Burn them into ash
No one can ever wear these same clothes
If you knew me well you’ll know how much I cherished you
Remember that I wore these clothes
The only way I knew
And I was happy
And I was blessed
And how I loved to wear these same clothes
Yes, I was happy
And I was blessed
And how I loved to wear these same clothes
I was happy
And I was blessed
And how I loved to wear these same clothes
Track Name: You're On Your Own Now
YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN NOW


You are a child of the stars, you are an orphan of fate
You are a child of the stars , you are an orphan of fate
You’re a bullet locked in the chamber
You were born too late

Morning comes like a dog to steal your spirit away
Morning comes like a dog to steal your spirit away
The night swallows the sun and devours the day

And you
You’re on your own now
Yeah you
You’re on your own now

You were left to a world where love’s a memory
You were left to a world where love’s a memory
You stare alone into the face of misery

No one to keep you from harm, no one to hear you cry
No one to keep you from harm, no one to hear you cry
And no one to notice if you live or if you die


And you
You’re on your own now
Yeah you
You’re on your own now

Scrape and beg for your bread you have to fight everyday
Scrape and beg for your bread you have to fight everyday
The hawks forever circling you like prey

You are the last hope of a man, you are the conscience of shame
You’re the last hope of a man, you are the conscience of shame
If you don’t live ‘till tomorrow who is there to blame
If you don’t live ‘till tomorrow who is there to blame

And you
You’re on your own now
Yeah you
You’re on your own now
Track Name: Far From Here
FAR FROM HERE

I’m suddenly aware
Of the lateness
Of everything around me
The chairs are on the table
The lights are up
They’re asking us to leave
You should know I care
I really care how ‘bout
How you came and found me
It gives me reason to believe

And the miles have been collecting
Since I left my lady in the springtime
I hardly can remember
The rooms I’ve played
The places I have been
Like beads upon a necklace
The days string on together
‘Till I can’t find
Where they end and they begin

So I’m thankful
For all of your kindness
It feels good to have you near
As I’m washed upon your shores
Tonight I will be yours
But tomorrow
I’ll be far from here

I’ve been taken like a sucker
I’ve got coked-up truckers trying to drive right through me
Cheap motels and rest stops
Waking up in the shape
Of my dreams
I float through dying cities
A lonely ghost
Who wishes someone knew me
Barely holding at the seams

So I’m thankful
For all of your kindness
It feels good to have you near
As I’m washed upon your shores
Tonight I will be yours
But tomorrow
I’ll be far from here

I wish I could stay longer
But I feel I may be
Headed towards disaster
Got some dollars in my pocket
Got eyes lit up
Like rockets in the night
It’s crazy but I’m thinking
If I keep moving just a little faster
I may catch up to the light

While searching for the chorus
I almost crashed the van in Amarillo
Been caught between the verses
Gone days without uttering a word
Your offer of a bed
A place to lay my head upon a pillow
Is the best thing that I’ve heard

So I’m thankful
For all of your kindness
It feels good to have you near
As I’m washed upon your shores
Tonight I will be yours
But tomorrow
I’ll be far from here
Yeah, tomorrow
I’ll be far from here