and New, Improved Recording are proud to present the fourth installment of New, Improved, LIVE, our ongoing series of live studio sessions with top indie bands, recorded at the New, Improved Recording studio in Oakland, California. This month’s session features Port O’Brien delivering exclusive recordings of songs from the band’s upcoming album Threadbare (out October 6th on TBD Records) as well as a terrific Beyonce Knowles cover.

With bandmates Cambria Goodwin and Ryan Stively away when this session was recorded, Van Pierszalowski and new bandmate Gram Lebron (ex-Rogue Wave) gathered some talented Bay Area musicians to deliver loose renditions of new Port O’Brien songs, as well as a spirited take on Beyonce’s “Halo”, which Van described as “one of my favorite songs since it came out” and something he’s always wanted to cover. This collection of tracks by what may have been a one-time-only ensemble have us very excited for Threadbare and help document the band’s continued evolution into one of indie rock’s most potent groups.

New, Improved, LIVE, featuring: Port O’Brien

1. Port O’Brien – “Leap Year” (originally from Threadbare)

[audio:|artists=Port O’Brien|titles=Leap Year] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3

2. Port O’Brien – “Oslo Campfire” (originally from Threadbare)[audio:|artists=Port O’Brien|titles=Oslo Campfire] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3

3. Port O’Brien – “Love Me Through” (originally from Threadbare)[audio:|artists=Port O’Brien|titles=Love Me Through] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3

4. Port O’Brien – “Halo” (cover; originally by Beyonce Knowles on 2009’s I Am… Sasha Fierce)[audio:|artists=Port O’Brien|titles=Halo] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3


Port O’Brien – “Halo”

Port O’Brien – “Leap Year”

Interview with Van Pierszalowski

The Bay Bridged: Thanks for playing a New, Improved, Live session. How did you pick the songs to play during the session?

Van Pierszalowski: They were just songs that I felt we could all play on the fly. The group that played on these recordings is basically just a loose bunch of friends that has never played together, so we picked songs we could pick up fast. Cambria was up in Alaska working, Ryan was back east, and we just had to do something of the moment.

TBB: What do you think Port O’Brien fans will be most surprised about with Threadbare?

VP: I think they will be surprised at how different it sounds in general. The arrangements are much more diverse, Cambria sings a lot more, and there is more cohesion to the album.

TBB: Could you talk a little bit about Port O’Brien’s new touring members? How are they impacting the band’s sound?

VP: Well, we have a new guitarist in Gram Lebron (who is the only other member of Port O’Brien who played on these), who used to be in Rogue Wave. He’s been amazing, really taking care to pick things apart and really hone in on what benefits the song. Its been a joy working with him. He’s our Nels Cline. We also have a new drummer in Tyson Vogel, who also plays drums for Two Gallants. Its been amazing working with him as well. He’s a monster on drums, just eats them up. He has a really unique style that he applies to the songs, and I think both of the new players really changed the direction of the live show.

TBB: All We Could Do Was Sing was the band’s first studio album. Did you learn something in that experience that you wanted to differently or similarly on this go-around?

VP: We wanted to make more of an album this time, something that acts as one piece. It also really helped to have less people in the studio.. just Cambria, Ryan, and I were in the band at that point.

TBB: What inspired you to record with both Jason Quever and Aaron Espinoza? What did each of them bring to the recording process?

VP: I’ve always loved working with Jason. He is a great friend and an amazing producer. Aaron fell into place really easily, and we had a great time working with him as well. Both of them played active roles, more so than we had on the last album.

TBB: Could you talk a little about the cover you performed at the session? Why did you pick this song to play at New, Improved, Live?

VP: “Halo” has been one of my favorite songs since it came out and I’ve always wanted to cover it.

Studio Session Photos with Port O’Brien

Audio: Eli Crews, John Finkbeiner
Photos: Nicole Browner
Video: Nathan Fritz, Stephen Boyd, Brent Harnisch