Whole Sun

by PigPen Theatre Co.

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about

This is the STANDARD EDITION of Whole Sun. A Deluxe Edition which includes three additional songs and exclusive digital content (100+ photos, alternate artwork, lyric sheets, and more) is also available on Bandcamp.

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“Choir / Sing like an iris / See what I'm in need of", calls a voice in "Choir", the opening track of PigPen Theatre Co.’s sophomore folk-rock album, Whole Sun. “I think that sums up my relationship with music in general”, writes lead singer Ryan Melia. “Whether you're listening to or writing music, you want it to be a medicine. You want it to make you feel good, teach you, watch over you, wash over you.”

The “Choir” lyric continues, “Sing like we’re family.” And they do. The band, seven male 20-somethings (Alex Falberg; banjo, Ben Ferguson; guitar/banjo, Curtis Gillen; bass, Matt Nuernberger; guitar/keyboard, Ryan Melia; guitar/banjo, Dan Weschler; accordion/keyboard, and Arya Shahi; percussion) who met in college and began writing together in 2007, function as a tightly knit unit. With a lush array of vocal harmony, at times culminating with all 7 singing at once, PigPen Theatre Co. often shifts in scale from the personal to the epic. The band of multi-instrumentalists trades off an eclectic collection of instruments, a banjo for a Telecaster, an accordion for a woodwind, that gives PigPen’s story-driven songs their wide-ranging, but always evocative, atmosphere. Whole Sun was written while the group was on the road cultivating its rapidly growing fan base.

Their debut album, Bremen, was named #10 album of the year in The Huffington Post’s 2012 Grammy Preview sending PigPen on tour playing to sold-out crowds at The Music Hall of Williamsburg and The Bowery Ballroom in NYC, Lincoln Hall in Chicago, The Echo in Los Angeles, Hill Auditorium and The Ark in Ann Arbor, amongst many others. Special appearances have included SXSW, The Ann Arbor Folk Festival, Dayton Folk Fest, and Milwaukee’s Summerfest, where PigPen Theatre Co. were winners in the Emerging Artist’s Series in 2013. They also performed a series of concerts that became one of the best selling residencies of the past decade at the legendary Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago.

While it is unusual for a band that’s been together nearly 8 years to only be releasing their sophomore album, that’s because this group has been making headway in other arenas, too. In addition to their work as musicians, PigPen Theatre Co. is a fully functioning (get this!) theatre company. The moniker isn’t just for the ironic hipster street cred. They’re a real multiple-award-winning theatre company. Their music-driven plays (written, composed, and performed by the band) have played Off-Broadway and to packed houses across the country, earning critical praise from The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, Time Out New York, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and more, winning a myriad of awards for their original music, playwriting, and dynamic as an ensemble. The group’s theatrical appetite is healthy, too, with three new plays slated for development over the next three years. In 2012, The New Yorker called them “a perfect combination of original music, stunning shadow puppetry, and vigorous physical comedy. It’s like watching child geniuses at play.”

“The goal this time was to write songs that belonged to us, not our plays”, said Melia. Whole Sun was written over 18 months, many of which were away from home as the band members gave up their New York City apartments and performed all over the country. Weschler remembers, “we were kind of isolated for months, with a lot of time to think about the loved ones we'd left behind. Those first few songs had a lot to do with looking at our relationships and the ways they were changing, sometimes growing, sometimes dwindling. “Weathervane," "You Woke," “Mayfly" and “Shailene" (an unreleased track), are all songs addressed to someone important who's on the other side of a great distance.”

They were surprised to find large crowds in cities they’d never been before, and in some places, Gillen recalls, “people were singing the lyrics, and we could hear them from on stage. It was amazing.” More exciting for the group, though, was that the new material began to take over as their collective sound grew.“These new songs were more vulnerable and, in a way, the audience became our partner in composition. Our parts became a direct result of the conversation we were having with them night after night” noted Shahi.

They had amassed nearly 30 songs by the summer of 2014 when suddenly Melia’s father, a close and beloved mentor to the group, passed away without warning. Weschler recalls, “We all reacted differently, but the same inevitable questions arose for all of us - what were we doing? What were we trying to do? Why did it matter? How could we move forward?”

The answers started to come as they began writing again. The band entered an eight-month period of recording demos in their Brooklyn apartment. "We focused on each song as it stood on its own, and developed the world that each song lived in,” said Ferguson, “we wanted to step back afterward to see what kind of album we were making.” Then they moved to the recording studio, adding a number of new sounds and textures. “I think everyone is playing at least one new instrument on this album that they didn’t before”, said Nuernberger. “We used a lot of new instruments like flute, mellotron, hammered dulcimer, a Wurlitzer, organ, fiddle, saxophone, trumpet, melodica, accordion, and even a vibraphone.”

“Many of the songs were about growing up” Weschler said. “They were about moving through different phases of your life with open eyes and acceptance. Which led us to the title, Whole Sun, a lyric from “Teeth”, 'Give us a bite of that whole sun.' We see the world in different degrees of focus, sometimes the picture is small and highly focused, but every now and then it gets big and all encompassing and we feel ourselves as part of something infinite. That's the way the sun is all the time. It shines down on everything and it’s always full, always a whole sun. It doesn't go through phases like the moon, it’s just there, all the time, seeing everything and casting light on everything. In some ways that's the ideal way of being. Shouldn't we all be like the sun? But that would also require us to be on fire. So we settle for focusing in on our lives and the people in them, with the occasional bright, fiery glimpse into the infinite - often in the aftermath of a great loss."

credits

released July 7, 2015

Written and Performed by PigPen Theatre Co.
Produced by Ron Robinson Jr.
Engineered by Michael A. Judeh
Mixed by Jesse Lauter
Mastered by Alan Silverman
Recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios
Featuring Lee Harrington on Flute
Artwork by Derek Eads

PigPen Theatre Co. is:
Alex Falberg
Arya Shahi
Ben Ferguson
Curtis Gillen
Dan Weschler
Matt Nuernberger
Ryan Melia

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PigPen Theatre Co. New York, New York

PigPen Theatre Co. met as freshman at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2007. Their debut LP, “Bremen”, was named #10 album of the year in The Huffington Post’s 2012 Grammy preview. Their follow up EP, “The Way I’m Running”, was premiered by American Songwriter and released on Oct. 8th, 2013. Their sophomore album. "Whole Sun", was released July 7th, 2015. They're cool. Pinky promise. ... more

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Track Name: Choir
Choir sing like an iris
See what I’m in need of
Sing like I’m crying
Sing like we’re family

When it comes it goes again
When it goes we begin
To wait away until
We fade away and still
We grab ropes that pull up
Shiny things from the mud
We were born to

Choir sing like the sirens
Show me my harbor
Make me row faster
Love me strictly

When it comes it goes again
When it goes we begin
To wait away until
We fade away and still
We grab ropes that pull up
Shiny things from the mud
We were born to

Bad things happen
In St. Louis
If I’d seen ‘em
Boy I’d lose it

Oh I would lose
Oh I would lose
Oh I would lose my mind
Oh I would lose my mind

Choir sing like an iris
See what I’m in need of
Sing like I’m crying
Sing like we’re family

Born in a choir
Track Name: You Woke, I Waited
You woke, I waited
You stood, I stood by
You judged the distance
Examined the decline

“But why would you, a diamond” I say,
“Run away from the sun”
Cause we could keep a tally
With each stretch we stretched to reach
The why, the why, the who, the how, the me, the you
Oh I could die some

When we are older, we’ll hear our bodies say
“Oh”
And we’ll find the mountain survived

I could be wiser
If I could speak stranger
This house will crack like
This mountain we reside

“But why would I” in silence I say,
“Run away from the sun”
Cause we could keep a tally
With each stretch we stretched to reach
The why, the why, the who, the how, the me, the you
Oh I could die some

When we are older, we’ll hear our bodies say
“Oh”
And we’ll find the mountain survived
Track Name: We Won't
Tied up like a noose we were walking
On the edge of a canyon me and my darling
Who should stand and stare and whistle
The air of a cannon the wind of a pistol

Should they make us fall again
Northern Southern Western
I don’t care
Oh oh, oh no, we won’t, we won’t

All my drawers opposed to closing
Gotta air out their teeth, their tongue, and their clothings
But who could blame them oh in this heatwave
It’ll melt your heart, your skin, make you crazy

Should they make us melt again
Summer Spring or Autumn
I don’t care
Oh oh, oh no, we won’t, we won’t

Oh the martyr inside it comes back and tells me,
Oh the way the mind goes
Oh the way the mind goes
But the wonder inside it comes back and tells me,
Oh the way the mind goes
Oh the way the mind goes
Like a setting sun

But we’ll go home
No we won’t
No we won’t
No we won’t

Tied up like a noose we were walking
All my drawers opposed to closing
Tied up like a noose we were walking
All my drawers opposed to closing
Tied up like a noose we were walking
Track Name: Sister
Sister, Sister, quite a child I’m told
Found outside with your bag of bones
In that bag your family
With a note to help and keep you please

Believe our love will new sister grow
We’ll tell each other all

Oh
Oh

Sister, Sister, you smell of fine perfume
Rubbed off letters sent to you
Italian wrote, Italian danced and sung
Sister stole my Italian love

Will our bond now, sister, hold
Til jealous hands throw jealous stones

Oh
Oh

Time goes by, I grow old
You grow up

Wrap black round my hands
Around my tongue
And curse the word, and curse the word, and curse the -

Sister, Sister, soon
We’ll be mothers too
And with each own’s leaf
We will, we will teach

Now sister sister will you tell how we did grow apart
Or rather sister will you tell the truth of our war
That love is gold and you did steal my children will learn
But they won’t be sure of me til you’re dead and gone
Track Name: Let Me Go
I don’t know, which hand to hold
Could you keep me in your mind
Would you keep me in your mind

I don’t know, which hand to hold
Could you keep me in your mind
Would you keep me in your mind

And save my dreams like wine
Don’t lose em
Guide my goals like signs
Just let’m go
But don’t let’m go

I don’t know, is it my time to go
Could you help me change its mind
Would you help me change its mind
I don’t know, is it my time to go
Could you help me change its mind
Would you help me change its mind

When I go, I’m gonna miss it so,
Can you help say goodbye
Would you help me say goodbye

I was a hell of a kid
I was a mess of a kid
I was a hell of a kid
I was a mess of a kid

Save my dreams like wine
Don’t lose em
Guide my ghost like a child
Just let’m go
But don’t let’m go

Just let me go
But don’t let me go
Track Name: The Bear Song
Well I stared at a bear
Listening close, nose up to the evening
“Won’t you share your thoughts with me
Oh the thoughts you seem to thinking”

He said “I dream I dream I dream
That the leaves the leaves the leaves
They don’t ever stop their changing, no,
Changing for me

But it seems it seems it seems
That the trees the trees the trees
they don’t ever stop their changing, no,
changing their leaves

But when they die
I won’t leave this world unknown
When they die
I won’t leave this world unknown”

“I could teach you” I said
“All the ways to live with them forever”
“Don’t you coddle me boy, oh I know
All too well how to remember”

He said “I dream I dream I dream
That the leaves the leaves the leaves
They don’t ever stop their changing, no,
Changing for me

But it seems it seems it seems
That the trees the trees the trees
they don’t ever stop their changing, no,
changing their leaves

But when they die
I won’t leave this world unknown
When the die
I won’t leave this world unknown”

Tell me, have you seen
Love dry, love cease to grow (X3)

I’ve caught fish so I know
The sound it makes when you let them go
It’s the worst sound that I’ve ever known

Then came the snow
And the ice
Over the water
Over the water
Over my water
Track Name: Teeth
All my teeth in my mouth
All your tongue can shout

Give us a bite of that whole sun
Give us the pulp and the peel
Give us a bite of that whole sun
Give us the light in the wheel

Straighten out your spine
And I’ll straighten out mine

Give us a bite of that whole sun
Give us the pulp and the peel
Give us a bite of that whole sun
Give us the light in the wheel

Cuz the signs they were aligned
Just like our eyes
And they told us look up
Yes they told us look up
Oh they told us look up

All the while a sigh from your mind says stick it out
Hard to say, hard to do, harder now in the moonlight
Picture yourself as a child in the love of the morning light
Make a cup of your own, that's a cup that will stick around
Stick it out

All my teeth in my mouth
All your tongue can shout

Give us a bite of that whole sun
Give us the pulp and the peel
Track Name: All's Well (With José)
All’s well with José
No need to worry his mind
No need to phone
Although his mother’s dying slow

All her lessons they
Went in one ear
And then they ran astray
In his brain
Until they all became
Something he believed in

Carla and Charro
Lying down inside that bed
Surrounding their mother
Older now but babes instead

All her lessons they
Went in their ears
And then they ran astray
In their brains
Until they all became
Something they believed in

They cried
Mother our stone
Mother our stone

In came José
Seas and roads led him home
Rushed to her side now
Brother sister brother close

All your lessons they
Went in one ear
And then they ran astray
In our brains
Until they all became
Something we believed in

They cried
Mother our stone
Mother our stone
Track Name: Weathervane
I am the weathervane
I never said anything strange
But those in storms who lost their way
Seem to give me all their blame

Oh well

Like the gallows
Or the weapons
Or the red nose
Or the rose with the thorn

How I lost those days

So I started pointing my own way
Not the way the wind came
I brought a spring without rain
But unlike blame received no praise

Oh well

Like the teacher
The good mother
Or the writer
Or the bough for the bird

How I made those days

Oh I won’t lie
I’d take my word for it now
Oh I won’t like
I’d take my word for it
I’d take my word for it now

So look up to me before the sun
If you dare to know what’s to come
I’ll give you what’s given me
Of news from far and in between
Clouds that hear the unheard
Storms with face, arms, and words
It’s enough to make you say
Oh my god