An all-American troubadour with songs to sing and stories to tell, Roderick August is the singer/songwriter we need in 2020. Dive into his beautiful & rugged debut album ‘Forever the Far the Closer the Near’.
for fans of Gregory Alan Isakov, The Lumineers, Leon Bridges, Paolo Nutini
‘Forever the Far the Closer the Near’ – Roderick August
I hope this album reminds people to slow down, simplify, and keep pushing forward… No matter how violent a wildfire fire becomes, the mountains will survive. I wanna make mountains out of people with this one.
An all-American troubadour with songs to sing and stories to tell, Roderick August is the singer/songwriter we need in 2020.
A man of the people, August sings with raw, rugged, worldly wisdom – the kind that comes from getting in your Mustang and touring 40 states in one year alone with your acoustic guitar. He’s lived many lives, and there is much to tell: August’s self-made debut album Forever the Far the Closer the Near, independently released June 1st, captures a slice of life that is as relevant to folks in New York as it is to those in Texas, Tennessee, North Dakota, New Mexico, and California.
It’s music for those who still believe that deep down, we’re all the same – made of flesh and blood, wandering this green and blue planet in search of meaning, fulfillment, and purpose, and connection. Out of pain, Roderick August found a spark of beauty.
“In 2017 I had been working dead end jobs in California. There was a real feeling of being boxed in by life and I was beginning to doubt I could break the cycle,” August tells Atwood Magazine. “I was living in Oxnard, CA, commuting into Los Angeles every day where my car had been towed something like 4 or 5 times that year alone – not to mention an accident on Wilshire Blvd which had all but wrecked my Mustang. Truthfully, I was in awe at the amount of shit that could befall one in such a short period of time. I began writing these songs while my car was in for repair, no intention of making an album at this point or touring or anything really, it was just something I had to do for myself. California went up in flames December 2017; it was apocalyptic, to say the least. Here I was, just trying to get by and now everything around me was literally burning. I took this as a sign. When the smoke cleared, I knew I had to leave California. I spent the first half of 2018 organizing a U.S tour. I no longer cared about risk – I was ready to throw it all out there and see what happens. I was on the road for months before landing in Brooklyn, NY. My girlfriend and I decided we’d be based out of NYC for the rest of the year, so I started playing around New England and throughout the East Coast. By now I knew I wanted to release a full length. The constant playing was great, because I got to see what songs people gravitated towards, and this gave me a good idea of what I would record. By the end of 2019, I was living in Nashville. I had purchased a couple of Neumann microphones and started recording.”
August continues, “This album encompasses where I come from, what I want, and where I’m trying to get. I’m used to being in far away places now, with that far away feeling you get when you know home is nowhere close, it’s like a bad trip sometimes but also the most beautiful feeling I know. These songs are a piece of home I’ll always carry with me. I couldn’t have done this without the support of the live audience across America who showed up. Looking forward to getting back out there when this is over.”
A true journey throughout the United States can hardly be summed up in one paragraph alone, yet we can feel much of that sense of adventure and possibility in Forever the Far the Closer the Near‘s songs.
With a soulful and tender voice like Mick Jagger or Matt Quinn (Mt. Joy), August sings his aching songs with deep passion and conviction. His words are poetry to the ears and balm for a weary heart; whether whispering close to the mic or pouring his lungs out in a hearty cry, he holds nothing back in his art. Written, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by August, this record is 100% him from start to finish, inside and out. “Doing anything alone can be a little scary, but if you make it to the other side there’s this feeling of invincibility that happens,” he explains. “Making my debut album is me winning a hard fight, not in the violent sense but in a very spiritual and internal way.”
Perhaps nothing informs the artist’s music more than his time spent on the road – an intensive period where he discovered as much about his country, as he did about himself.
“I’m probably more road than I am man at this point,” August jokes – sort of. “What I mean by that is I have spent a considerable amount of time on Interstate 40 and Interstate 10, playing small towns throughout the Southwest for 3rd generation ranchers, farmers, native people, and straight outlaws in some cases. These aren’t easy people to impress but when I would play, the tension in the room seemed to simply disappear – you could feel it happening. It’s that magic stuff I’m constantly chasing when I’m performing. I also spent many months on Interstates 95 and 91, introducing myself to folks on the East Coast, and it was just incredible finding common ground with people everywhere I would go. I’m thankful for the love that exists out there. I have my ideals, I have my values, but I can’t help but feel empathy and understanding for people everywhere now, no matter what we believe. Whether you’re in a trailer park or the hood, Bushwick or Manhattan, all of us need each other right now.”
“I hope this album reminds people to slow down, simplify, and keep pushing forward,” August says. “I want people to know I’m not coming from privilege telling you everything’s gonna be okay. I come from a bad place too, I know what it’s like. These songs are experiences, and maybe they’re your experiences too. No matter how violent a wildfire fire becomes, the mountains will survive. I wanna make mountains out of people with this one.”
I think just being a half-Black, half-Hispanic folk singer in 2020 speaks volumes to where we’re at right now.
If you believe in the American Dream or in the potential it represents, then Roderick August is a living, breathing example of that dream in action.
His music is connective tissue that could, if we let it, bring all of us a little closer together. Forever the Far the Closer the Near certainly strives to capture the nuance of this particular moment in time, recognizing the country’s deep divisions but refusing to believe that unity is an impossible goal.
“I think just being a half-Black, half-Hispanic folk singer in 2020 speaks volumes to where we’re at right now,” August shares. “I’ve always seen folk music as a sort of traveler’s music, but sadly many people in minority communities right now can’t afford to just drop everything and go see their world – and it is their world, too. On this album I’m addressing my Black experience in America (“More Easily”), and overcoming tragedy of natural and unnatural disasters (“Run with The Horses”). I’m addressing skeptical people who will never give you a chance (“Lightning Bolt”). This album was made with the American people in mind, but it ended up being something for everyone, everywhere.”
Roderick August is a new name and a fresh face, and we’re ready to welcome him and his music into our living rooms and our hearts. He’s an all-American troubadour, and his first album – his unabridged, unadulterated introduction – is an all-American soundtrack to hope and heartache, suffering and staying power. Call it folk, acoustic, alt-country, what-have-you; this is music of the world, for the world. August has reinvigorated a classic, well-worn sound with energy, authenticity, and verve.
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Roderick August’s Forever the Far the Closer the Near with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his debut album!
This album was made with the American people in mind, but it ended up being something for everyone, everywhere.
‘Forever the Far the Closer the Near’ – Roderick August
:: Inside Forever the Far the Closer the Near ::
The album had been finished for about week at this point but I felt something was missing, a proper introduction of sorts. So I began scouring through old voice memos for a moment that could sum me up, a glimpse into my life, not even necessarily musical, just a real moment that maybe I unknowingly would have recorded. What I ended up finding was a rare occurrence of my siblings and I together, laughing, singing, just being. In this voice memo you can hear me playing my nieces piano and she is asking loudly over all the noise “who wants ice cream?”… I can’t quite explain it and maybe you’d have to know my family history to understand how much this moment meant but I was brought to tears upon discovering this short piece of audio. It’s the place we all remember going through different cycles of our lives at, the house on Bottlebrush.
This song sums up my angst and optimism that thrusted me out into America to start touring. It’s me essentially saying ‘This is who I am, I was once afraid to leave home, I was once quiet but now I am ready, let’s do this America!’
I was ready to go and float for a little while and open myself up to opportunity. “Over and out there is power, damn me if I wanna find it.” Someone once said to me im going to hell for being a musician, well…damn me if I want something better then where I’m from.
The optimism of Float quickly dissipates with More Easily. It’s the underdogs journey through America and touches on the feeling of life stacking up against you, when you feel there is no place left to go except straight through. I was just tired, tired of working long hours for nothing, tired of being misunderstood, tired of being called too black, tired of being called too white. More Easily is me letting those people know, you will no longer be telling my story but I will happily sing it for you now.
On Better Slowly, I begin to turn More Easily’s fist into a handshake, so to speak. I’m letting my guard down and admitting, I left California because I had to, not because I knew it would actually work out. I’m admitting that I’m grateful anything worked out at all once I started performing. I’m also admitting to past love interests that I’m sorry for always having prioritized music over everything else, I can’t help it, it’s a switch I honestly couldn’t turn off if I tried, and I have. “Baby I set a fire, either way I let you down, now the cold feels you now”. I’m also telling myself that it’s hard now but I’m getting close to that sweet sweet valley, so close I can almost taste the water.
WINDOW ON THE HILL
At this point on the record, I feel comfortable inviting the listener in for dinner, have a drink, take a seat, relax, I know you’re tired man, let’s talk. My closest friends were heavy in my mind on this track. It’s also a moment of the album when I really start to think about where I come from and dissect it some. I suppose my window on the hill is that place I’ve never been but I know with all my heart and soul it’s real and if I’m lucky, I might see it some day. I wanna bring my friends along with me too
FOREVER THE FAR THE CLOSER THE NEAR
This is the oldest song on the album. I wanna say I wrote this years prior in the empty swimming pool at my moms place. I was single and had a guitar so I guess I was just thinking back on the good things I may not have appreciated when I was young and stupid. I also had a lot of friends who were having kids, not always planned. I tried to put myself in their shoes, what would I do if she came to me one evening and just said “hey, I’m pregnant”. How would I respond to that? Would I do the right thing? What is the right thing? I still don’t know but when I perform this one live, I feel I’m getting closer to that answer.
This one was always special for me to play. It touches on that underdog spirit felt in More Easily but with more seats at the table. For those who think they know you just from looking at you, this is for them. For those who think they know what you’re going to do next but really have no clue, this is for them. This is for the slow burners who are over throwing the world turners. I suppose also, this is my spiritual side rearing it’s head. God, if you can hear me, I want you to know that I don’t aim to let you down but if I’ve been greedy, if I’ve been selfish or out of touch, forgive me. I suppose some might liken Lightning bolts to the unhinged power of God. So im saying to God that although I probably have no clue what I’m even asking for, please, use me to do some good while I’m alive, I’ll be your Lightning bolt if you need me to. So pick up the phone, call me.
Sonoma is every small town girl ive ever met. Sonoma is the girl who always did the best she could. She’s the hard working girl who would do anything for her family, husband, children, even when no ones doing anything for her. Sonoma is the girl who finally tells her family that she has to do something for herself for a change. She knows it’ll be difficult, she knows it will all be new and frightening but she doesn’t give a damn, she will be happy if it kills her and I relate to Sonoma on that level.
GOOD TO GO
As you’ve probably gathered, this album touches quite a bit on my travels and the title alone is self explanatory. I had past and current relationships in mind on this one too. Saying goodbye for a long stint on the road even after you’ve only just met, it’s hard on them, it’s hard on me but what else can I do, this is my life. I don’t like it, but I’d hate myself if I wasn’t being myself.
RUN WITH THE HORSES
Ventura County, CA…my love letter to the place that means everything to me. If you’ve been there your whole life like most of us have, you’ll be jaded by what I just said but after you traverse deserts and mountains and highways, you come back and realize it might just be a little piece of heaven. Thomas Fire temporarily destroyed the natural beauty that is Ventura County back in December of 2017 and it left me depressed, lost and temporarily hopeless. I remember hearing about folks in Ojai who lost horses to the flames and that hit me pretty hard. I know what it’s like, feeling like a trapped animal, hell on your heels with nowhere to run. I wanted to be free like they wanted to be free, if I could, I’d have ran with those horses someplace far away from destruction. I couldn’t save them but the least I could do is save myself and get somewhere with blue skies. “If the blue sky starts turning red, let it go, move on ahead”
I think I mentioned this before but when I decided to leave California and start playing, I only told one person I was going to leave. A young lady who loved her guitar and the beach and her uncle. It was my niece, I told her where I was going and why I had to do it. I’m not sure she understood what I was even saying but something about her reserved response told me ‘I understand Roderick, you do what you have to do, I still love you no matter what.’ In my family, it seems to always be an uphill battle to better yourself so this was my letter to her, telling her that she could be and do whatever she wants in life. It won’t be easy and not everyone will like it but as long as she doesn’t lose who she is, she can be anything in life. The closing ambience of the song was recorded from my backyard in East Nashville. We have at least 10 species of birds out there at any given time and the evening crescendo of them all singing was captured by leaving two microphones on the back patio during sunset. It seemed fitting, starting the album with where I began in my life, Oxnard, CA and ending with where I am today, Nashville, TN. If you listen closely to the birds, maybe you’ll hear where I’m trying to get to next.
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📸 © Roderick August
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