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RIGHT AWAY, GREAT CAPTAIN! with Special Guests at the Pike Room


Right Away, Great Captain!, the solo side project of Manchester Orchestra lead singer Andy Hull, comes back into port six years after it began with its third and final chapter, The Church Of The Good Thief. It pinpoints the end of the struggle for Hull's protagonist, a 17th century sailor who chronicles, via a personal journal, his torturous time at sea, plagued by vivid memories of the betrayal that preceded his departure.

The record picks up right on the heels of the where the story left off after 2008's second installment, The Eventually Home, finding the sailor standing over his wife, wrestling with the decision of whether to murder her or letting her live after she's caught in the act of adultery with his own brother. According to Hull, "The Church Of The Good Thief begins about 30 minutes after The Eventually Home ends. In the heat of this moment, he is overwhelmed with the love he still has for his wife combined with the boiling hatred he has towards his brother. So he strangles his brother while laying next to his wife in bed."

The opening song "Blame" details how the sailor's children witness the crime and neighbors outside the home hear the commotion. The song's narrative moves into a court of law, where he is sentenced to death and sent to prison to await his eventual execution. It's this realization of impending doom that transitions into the second track, "When I Met Death," where the sailor envisions his soon-to-be afterlife. "The album is really two halves," Hull says. "The first half is based on his prayers, last moments with friends and family, and several conversations with the ghost of his captain (who died saving him in the trilogy's first album, 2006's The Bitter End). The last mission that he's given from his captain is to make peace with his family and his God before it's too late. The lyric in 'When I Met Death' -- 'all the seams that you've undone, you will indeed repair, for now you must become fully aware' -- is him taking this advice and trying to make amends as best as he can."

On the second half of the record, Hull further reflects on the sailor's past, using the last six songs as a sort of "flashing before his eyes" recollection of the actions that have brought him to this point, and their consequences. "It starts with 'Barely Bit Me,' which is an analogy, poison travelling through your body being similar to awaiting your death day," Hull describes. "The last several songs are the mental journey that he takes until he is finally laid to rest. 'Rotten Black Root' is a song referring to how difficult it will actually be to never see those that he loves again; realizing that sin has gotten the last laugh because all that he wanted to do was return home and be loved. But in this darkness he is finding peace, because he has indeed written his own fate. He knows he can no longer run away from the problem like he did in The Eventually Home, he has to face and embrace that this is the end."

Hull intentionally decided, during the making of The Church of The Good Thief, to create an album to close out this trilogy that sounds and feels as solitary and static as the conflicted emotions that the character is experiencing. "Both of the previous albums contained a lot of different settings, but my hope on this record was to have it sound like a man in a jail cell with just a guitar and a piano," he says. "I wanted my voice to be used as a narrative during his isolation." Hull spent last winter recording during his breaks from touring, and as with the first two Right Away, Great Captain! records, as well as the entire Manchester Orchestra catalog, teamed up with his longtime Producer collaborator Dan Hannon to make the album in Hannon's living room studio in Atlanta. It was mixed by Hannon, Hull, Manchester Orchestra's lead guitarist Robert McDowell, and another longtime studio collaborator, Brad Fisher, at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC.

The process of beginning RAGC! for Hull way back in 2006 was a bit of an experiment. "I had started it as a writing exercise," he says. "I had the storyline for the first album in my head and started to write it in this other character's body. It was really rewarding as a writer to put yourself in someone else's position and give yourself some walls that you could not break. I had always wanted to embark on something like a trilogy, and from the beginning, I felt like three albums could sum up the story. If I didn't set out for it to be a trilogy, I could have extended this story and it would have gotten stale and I don't know if I ever would have finished it. What I could not have ever expected was the amount of growth that I went through personally from ages 19 to 25, because you don't really think about that when you're 19. As I began to grow, the character grew, and when the character grew, the story grew too."

The response and reactions that Hull has received from RAGC! fans that have connected with the tale have encouraged him throughout the process. "I feel humble that people have shown such dedicated interest. It's a bittersweet feeling knowing that it is over, but it's also incredibly gratifying to know I have finished something that I have been wanting to finish for so long. This was started as such a small project. The fans have gone above and beyond all expectations. I feel like people connect with the story and can create their own story to accompany it."

The centerpiece track towards the end of The Church Of The Good Thief and the swan song to Right Away, Great Captain! is "We Were Made of Lightning," which puts all of Hull's insights into the character's headspace into their purest form: "Now I keep it inside me / Hoping you one day let me go / It's the end, It's nothing I've ended."


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