Everything We Know About Sturgill Simpson’s New Album + Anime Film, ‘Sound & Fury’
We finally know about Americana and country singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson's first album in over three years: It’s a collection of dystopian rock songs titled Sound & Fury. Additionally, Simpson took these soundscapes even further than the recording studio by teaming with reputable animators to create a companion film for Netflix.
It’s a quirky concept, for sure, but it’s not as though Simpson has ever played by the rules. His mainstream arrival, the 2014 single “Turtles All the Way Down,” hardly stuck with typical country and Americana themes. The award-winning album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, meanwhile, dropped in 2016 and inched the singer-songwriter closer to a heavy, psychedelic rock sound.
This time around, Simpson bridges his music and his recent interest in other forms of media with two related projects capable of introducing his work to fandoms beyond those of country music and Americana. Read on to learn more details about the project.
During a July 20 appearance at San Diego Comic-Con with Kamikaze Douga animation studio founder Jumpei Mizusaki and Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki, Simpson revealed that his next album would be titled Sound & Fury. The fall release will be accompanied by a Netflix original anime film, created by Simpson’s co-panelists and resembling both creators’ work on the animated movie Batman Ninja.
The Release Date
Sound & Fury is due out on Sept. 27, Simpson announced on Aug. 20. The album is available for pre-order now.
The Record Label
The multimedia project includes Simpson’s first album with Elektra Records, now a subsidiary of Warner Music. Simpson's last album, 2016's A Sailor's Guide to Earth, was released via Atlantic Records, also a part of the Warner Music family.
Simpson, his bandmates -- Bobby Emmett, Chuck Bartels and Miles Miller -- and John Hill are all producers on Sound & Fury. The recorded the project at Waterford, Mich.'s McGuire Motor Inn.
The Album Cover
The Sound & Fury album cover features a car, drawn in anime style, driving away from a massive cloud of fire erupting within a cityscape. The album's title appears in the top left corner, in a Japanese character-influenced font.
"Sing Along," released on Aug. 20, is Simpson's first single from Sound & Fury. The artist has said that he's not afraid to expand out of country and Americana, and that's exactly what he's done: The track mixes '80s electronic sounds with blues and scuzz rock influences. "You've done me wrong, so here's your song / Now sing along," Simpson sings at the end of the chorus.
Simpson admits he was "kind of in a weird spot" during the creation process for Sound & Fury. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this anymore because a lot of the business sides of things, and, like, some heartbreak and betrayal, and just learning things that you already know ... And I wanted to express a lot of that. And I was listening to a lot of hip-hop, and Black Sabbath, and the Cars, and old funk records and things," Simpson explains to Beats 1's Zane Lowe.
"We were in Detroit while we were making the record, and I was sort of writing it in real time and listening to a lot of Eminem. And I was just like, 'Man, this guy gets to talk mad s--t. How come we can't do that?'" Simpson continues. "So I just sat down and wrote a bunch of mad s--t-talking songs about how f--king awesome we are. And then we recorded it. And then I said, 'Man, this isn't weird enough. I should probably go to Japan and, like, get the five most legendary animation directors in history together and get them all drunk and put them to competition to see who can outdo one another, and we'll just animate the whole f--king album.'"
In a press release, Simpson adds, "We went in without any preconceived notions and came out with a really sleazy, steamy, rock 'n' roll record. It’s definitely my most psychedelic. And also my heaviest. I had this idea that it’d be really cool to animate some of these songs, and we ended up with a futuristic, dystopian, post-apocalyptic samurai film."
Sturgill Simpson, Sound & Fury Track Listing:
2. "Remember to Breathe"
3. "Sing Along"
4. "A Good Look"
5. "Make Art Not Friends"
6. "Best Clockmaker on Mars"
7. "All Said and Done"
8. "Last Man Standing"
9. "Mercury in Retrograde"
10. "Fastest Horse in Town"
The trailers for Simpson's Sound & Fury anime film show a sci-fi-esque, action-packed dreamscape full of explosions, gas masks, guns, business executives signing multi-million-dollar checks and much more. The trailers offer less storyline and more surrealistic approach.
Sound & Fury the film was created by Simpson in partnership with writer, director and Kamikaze Douga animation studio founder Jumpei Mizusaki and character designer and Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki. Koji Morimoto, Michael Arias, Masaru Matsumoto, Henry Thurlow and Arthell Isom also directed, while Shunsuke Ochiai co-executive produced, and Hiroaki Takeuchi served as a production executive. The film is set to music from Simpson's album of the same name, with each song receiving its own segment.
Simpson hasn’t played live much recently, perhaps to juggle recording an ambitious album with filming and promoting such projects as the Jim Jarmusch film The Dead Don’t Die and the forthcoming movie Queen & Slim. Hopefully we get an audio-visual live experience in 2020, incorporating music and animation; he recently announced some shows in Europe for the new year, and according to the New York Times, Simpson will spend part of 2020 on the road for a 40-stop tour in support of Sound & Fury.
Prior to 2020, though, Simpson will celebrate the release of his new album with six small-venue shows to benefit U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers. The concerts are scheduled for small venues in California, New York, Washington, DC and New Jersey, and will run from Sept. 29 through Oct. 8. In addition, he has also scheduled screenings of Sound & Fury at Hollywood, Calif.'s ArcLight Cinema on Sept. 26 and New York City's IFC Theater on Oct. 3. Fans who have pre-ordered Sound & Fury will be able to reserve seats at the screenings; visit SturgillSimpson.com for details.
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