Field Report is the creation of Chris Porterfield, who cut his musical teeth with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and the members of Megafaun in the now-legendary band DeYarmond Edison. After their breakup in 2006, Bon Iver and Megafaun went on to success while Chris hung back in Wisconsin, thinking his career in music was over. It was really just beginning. For the first time in his life, he began writing his own songs, which he spent the following five years carefully divining, killing off, revising, and honing. In December 2011, the record was created at Vernon’s studio in Fall Creek, WI. The result is a haunting, lyrical narrative that has already garnered a swell of attention nationwide.
Within six months of their first-ever public performance, Field Report had secured tours with Emmylou Harris and Counting Crows. Their music has been added to in-store playlists at 7,500 Starbucks locations. Bruce Warren at WXPN calls it “the best debut of the year,” a sentiment echoed by the likes of Rolling Stone, Spin, Paste, Billboard, and Pitchfork. – Partisan Records
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NPR just debuted your video for “I Am Not Waiting Anymore”, an incredibly moving song with a video to match. Tell me a bit about the song, as well as how the video came together?
That song showed up right when the body of songs that would become our first record were coming together. The songs were all starting to work together as a piece, and there was a shift in my mind from passively working on this stuff to more intentionality. The song is all about getting over yourself and leaving whatever has happened in the past, and taking the next step. It became kind of a mantra as the band was gelling.Manny Marquez, the director, reached out about doing a video treatment for it. He had been listening to the record, and really tapped in to the theme of that song without getting too tied to the specific narrative. He and his team did most of that video while we were on the road. I think he made a beautiful visual complement to the song, while embracing its ambiguity and taking license with what it means to him.
As well as telling a story, “I Am Not Waiting Anymore” parallels your career with music in many ways, does it not? The song seems to be written as much for the listener as for the writer, and is ultimately uplifting in many ways.
Just like Manny found new meaning in it, once any song is out there, it belongs to whomever wants to spend time with it and assign meaning to it through the lens of their own life. That’s the highest achievement for any songwriter – to make something that lives in different ways. I’m both proud and humbled that this song in particular has been able to remind people that we all have agency, and that there is hope in that fact.
Field Report’s self titled album – released 9/11/2012
The band is making quick run through the South before heading out to SXSW. You have shows lined up at the famed Eddie’s Attic and are also a part of our new favorite festival, Savannah Stopover. Do these shows mark the first time Field Report has made it to Georgia, and what are you looking forward to about your time in the Peach State?
Yeah, it will be our first time in Georgia! We are really excited. Talking to people involved with these shows has been really great- we’re already feeling welcomed. We just got a foot of snow here- we can’t wait to be outside in T shirts.
Following SXSW, you’re headed out with Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek. That’s extremely exciting, congrats! Do you two already know each other or will this be your first introduction?
We haven’t met yet, but we are thrilled to be able to support Sara on this tour. We’re going to be doing it as a trio- me, and Ben and Shane. We’ll be working up some more stripped-down arrangements. It’s going to be a great, fun challenge to re-contextualize some of the songs. We love to keep poking these things, and finding new life in them.
With all the press surrounding the self-titled these past few months, what are you most looking forward to in the next few to come?
We’ve been home since Thanksgiving, so I’m excited to just get back on the road. Playing live is my favorite part about all of this. We get to meet new people and make connections with them every night. We get to try new approaches and take musical risks. We get to see parts of the country that we haven’t experienced yet. All of the things that have happened with us so far have been unexpected and wonderful, but we are still a young band. We want to continue to make friends, and earn trust from our audience.
It seems that yours is a success that has not come without a number of lessons learned. Of those, which has remained the most important, whether from a personal or professional standpoint?
Boy, we learn new lessons every day. We didn’t know much about anything when we started. I just did my taxes. Yikes. What a mess. Definitely learned some lessons in that regard. But business aside, the most important lesson is this: embrace the struggle. We are always trying to keep ourselves honest, as people and players. If something is feeling musically easy, it can mean that we aren’t being honest about it. We always have to keep ourselves accountable to the moment. If we are experiencing the moment, the audience will experience it too. If we are phoning it in, the audience can smell that. We want every show to be a thing that we as a band and the audience experiences together. We want there to be risk and trust and hits and misses, and we want to come out at the end having shared and experienced something together, and maybe even a little better off for having done it. Just like life.