Reviews

Drawing Down the Moon

Author: Shauna Keddy
06/13/2010 | Nodepression.com | www.nodepression.com | Feature
I sat down with members of the Omaha, Nebraska band "The Good Life" on Thursday night, before their show at the famed San Francisco venue Bottom of the Hill.

Although The Good Life's first album came out in 2001, and they have had four records since, the band has had little time together. The Good Life is such a tight band, with such memorable songs and amazing lives shows, that it is amazing to consider how many other projects its members are committed to. It is hard for lead singer Tim Kasher to spend as much time as he would like with the members of the band, since his other band Cursive gains so much media attention, and has such a devoted following. Drootin has toured with She and Him and played on many Bright Eyes albums, while also working in the band Consafos. Drummer Roger Lewis plays with fellow Saddle Creek band Neva Dinova, and with guitarist Ryan Fox on his new project, Our Fox. San Francisco was one stop on this short tour, as their bassist Stefanie Drootin is pregnant with her second child.

Nevertheless, The Good Life's members feel quite close. Lewis explained that although he loves playing with Neva Dinova, "It's different. I like both bands a lot, but this feels like a tighter knit family. Neva Denova are more like a bunch of dudes."

"A dude family," Kasher chimed in, laughing. "Stef is actually my oldest friend, oddly enough, since she was the last to join the band." Kasher explained about the formation of the Good Life. "She is from LA, and she stayed with me when she came through Omaha in 96. I met Roger and Ryan, kind of through the music community; people were always recommending them and saying they would be good to play with. Roger and I met, and were a little unsure about Ryan…. [laughs, as they both eye him suspiciously]. We were nervous to meet him, we thought he might be a bit of a weirdo," he joked.

Everything obviously turned out well in the end—critics and fans alike laud the band for their emotionally stinging, but all-too-true lyrics, and for their complex musical arrangements. Their songs focus on romance, marriage, divorce and break ups, and all that comes in between. Their band name refers to Nebraska's old state slogan, but is also an ironic jab at the somewhat dark song content. Each album seems to find a careful balance though, leaving a heavy impact on the listener, but certainly not an altogether negative outlook.

Things just seemed to come together for the band, considering that, "We haven't been a band long enough to know to figure out how the different members create the sound we have. On the last record [Help Wanted Nights] we started figuring it out, whereas I feel that Album of the Year was not as actualized. That was actually the first time we played with Stefanie. Black Out [their second full length album] was very different; most of it was done at the studio."

Kasher writes the compositions, and the band arranges them. Sometimes he writes a song to put it on an album and other times because of the urge to tell stories, which can be more of a creative process. "Sometimes it just feels like the right time to sit down and write a song," he explained.

In songs from both the Good Life and Cursive, Kasher sings of the dilemma of being an "Entertainer" and the ironies that come with the process of revealing your thoughts and life stories to total strangers. He sings of what it feels like to be up on stage putting such personal stories out there, and of the catch that once he does tell mostly true stories, people assume that every lyric he writes is based on what happened to him personally. Many know Cursive mainly for their hit song "Art is Hard". But even though Kasher clearly spends a great amount of time dwelling on this idea, he still greatly enjoys the songwriting process and loves what he does. "Just to play, it's great to be able to make a career out of a hobby thing. It's a treat. It's so fun, just messing around," Kasher said with a smile.
Although fans may go through a bad time with no more Good Life records or tours in the next while, they can look forward to the first Our Fox record. Lewis plays drums on that as well. "We are going to finish the record by the end of this summer, and hopefully we'll get Saddle Creek interested in putting it out," said Fox.

"That's the benefit of working at Saddle Creek, you could just set it on someone's desk for them to take a listen," Kasher laughed.

Additionally, Kasher's solo record "The Game of Monogamy" will be released this fall. Some of those songs are in the new film "My Suicide", which gained rave reviews at this year's South by Southwest. Kasher did the score for the film, and it was screened in the North Bay the night following the Good Life's concerts. It will be in general release this fall. This project seems to be a good lead in to Kasher's long awaited movie, "Help Wanted Nights". Kasher wrote their album with the same title, since he envisioned each song as a scene in the film. It already has a listing on the Internet Movie Database website and an actress cast in the leading role.

Considering the detailed chronicling of personal insecurities, romantic successes and mishaps, and pure emotional force of each song, it should be a great film to look forward too.
Drawing Down the Moon

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