WATERS, Live Session #99

by Woody on March 8, 2012

Port O’Brien were one of those bands that resonated with us. We had a real connection with them from the first time we heard “I Woke Up Today.” They had a Neil Young-inspired folk-rock sound that was at times rocking and electric, other times organic and acoustic, and sometimes tribal and trippy. Over the years we had them in for two sessions, saw them live on many occasions, chased them down at SXSW, and became friends. Van gives great hugs.

So the demise of Port O’Brien was met with sadness amongst the HearYa staff. Knowing that Van would be firing up a new band helped ease the pain. As I talked to the Oz about what direction Van would be taking, I recalled a show I saw at Schubas in Chicago where Van and Zeb (POB’s then guitarist) were thrashing around the stage, clad in flannel like it was 1995. I told Oz, “I think it’s going to be loud and rocking.”

I was right. Van scratched the surface in Port O’Brien, but WATERS’ Out In The Light gets right up in your grill. It has a decidedly 90s college feel and unleashes a sound more bold, loud and complete than anything he’s released before. As he did with POB, Van has surrounded himself with a full crew of musicians – this time assembled in Norway.

As WATERS loaded in for the session, it was good to reconnect with Van. We talked about Norway, my kids and the upcoming SXSW. If you’re going to be in Austin next week make sure to stop into our party to catch their live set on Thursday at 2:25, inside stage at Beauty Bar. If you miss them there, you’ll have plenty of other chances in Austin.  After SXSW, WATERS will be hitting the road with the excellent Delta Spirit. Check their Facebook page for tour details.

Exclusive: WATERS – Take Me Out To The Coast (Videos: YouTube | Vimeo)

Exclusive: WATERS – Ones You Had Before

Exclusive: WATERS – For The One (Videos: YouTube | Vimeo)


WATERS – Out In The Light [Album Review]

by oz on October 31, 2011

WATERS is the band that emerged after Port O’Brien dissolved. Founding POB front man Van Pierszalowski fled the States for Oslo, Norway after the breakup before continuing his travels to Alaska where he’d spent time working with his father, a commercial fisherman. Then off to his hometown in Northern California, over to Brooklyn, then back to Oslo to put a band together and form WATERS.

Port O’Brien was a band near to my heart after discovering them shortly after I moved to the Bay area in 2007. I saw them in four different cities, had a few pints with them in Boston, and became a close enough acquaintances to garner a bear hug from Van every time we crossed paths – although I don’t think he’s stingy with his hugs. Needless to say, I was devastated to hear that Port O’Brien broke up and I became extremely nervous to see Van’s new band name in all capital letters. A band name in all caps? I was picturing neon colors, LOTS of synthesizer sounds and the word “experimental” in the genre description.

Out In The Light turned out to be better than any Port O’Brien record.  According to Van, “The record is about waking up. It is about getting out of a situation that seems endless, and realizing you’re not too old to make dramatic and sudden changes in your life. It is about starting over.” It’s also about unleashing something more bold, loud and complete than anything he’s released before.

Out In The Light makes a statement with the fuzzy “For The One.” The familiar sound of the acoustic was set aside for brash guitars, clashing drums and harsh vocals that put your speakers to the test. “O Holy Break Of Day” is the signature tune on the album, balancing tempo changes, heavy handed guitar solos and poignant lyrics:

feeling reckless but there’s a light at the edge of my room
i never imagined i could be a free man this soon
take my warnings just to find my way back through
home isn’t waiting oh lord i am overdue

oh i can’t believe this all was for free
i dreamed the fucker right out of me
i can’t believe i took it for granted
o holy break of day

feeling weezy but there’s a way i can’t let it go
hold my hand softly if you hold my hand at all
never imagined i could be a free man this soon
wade through water, there’s a light at the edge of my room

The album lightens up on songs like “Out In The Light,” the acoustic ballad, “Ones You Had Before,” and the liberating anthem “If I Run.” The closer, “Mickey Mantle,” is the clincher. It’s a beautifully crafted solo acoustic number with light keys, late blooming percussion and female vocal harmonies. Van’s songwriting is showcased again:

never thoguht to light a candle
never thought i’d have to gamble
I was feeling micky mantle wasted

driving up the 1 and frantic
turning into an old romantic
I was sleeping n the attic waiting

can’t nobody ever see
don’t make a mess of me
i ain’t to old to give a shit

i could turn a train around
i could take your country down
i aint’ too young to regret

forever, forever, forever
i ain’t too young

The song will resonate even more with you if you’ve been belittled by Mickey Mantle after asking for an autograph. But enough of my emotional scars.

My hat goes off to Van Pierszalowski. WATERS is a triumph and one of the year’s best albums.

WATERS – For The One

WATERS – O Holy Break Of Day


Port O’Brien broke up last year and singer/songwriter Van Pierszalowski took a long break from music, living in Oslo, Norway and then traveling to Alaska, California and Brooklyn. He’s about to reemerge with a solo project under the moniker WATERS. It’s fuzzy and loud and the debut album, Out In The Light, will be released on 9/20 via TBD Records. Here a taste of Van’s new sound in “For The One.”

WATERS – For The One