Help Wanted Nights
This Month: Tim Kasher of The Good Life and Cursive
While the average Nickelback fan may think the music scene in Omaha, Nebraska, begins and ends with 311, we at AP have been following the town that brought us Saddle Creek Records for more than a decade. Still, our expertise in the Cornhusker music community pales in comparison to that of the Good Life's frontman Tim Kasher. Here he paints a scenic picture of what it was like growing up in a place where the towns are small, the plains are rolling and the cows potentially outnumber the residents.
When did music first impact your life?
I guess my earliest memories are learning what records were, and what the 8-track was. [I would listen to] alot of Simon and Garfunkel and Peter, Paul and Mary on Sunday mornings when my parents were reading the paper. Lipps, Inc.'s Funkytown...is, like the first 7-inch I remember putting on myself. [After I was about 8 years old,] I think I primarily listened to all these tapes my older brothers and sisters had of Britpop—like the Jam, the English Beat, the Smiths and the Cure.
So it must have been a dream come true for Cursive to play Curiosa.
Oh, totally! It was quite cool. It was much more like being at band camp than it was any sort of a job or promotional tour. It was secondary to us whether anyone was there to see us or not; we just kind of wanted to be a part of it.
What was the music scene like in Omaha while you were growing up?
I remember being a very young teenager and having no idea of any type of Omaha music scene, which I think is extremely different from growing up in L.A. or New York where you're reading about a music scene in your city [on a national level]. So when I was probably 15, my friends and I kind of just got to that middle teen-age where we started going out and meeting more people, and we realized there was a music scene in Omaha. That was one of the most hugely revelatory moments of my life, as far as musically. Once we realized that there were actually older teenagers writing their own music and doing these punk bands and shit, we were just blown away.
Is it true that you and Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst went to Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha together?
Our age difference is so large that I don't think we were ever actually in the same school at the same time, although his older brother Matt and I went to school together.
But you did go to school with Cursive bandmates Matt Maginn and Ted Stevens. Did you ever feel like outsiders since music wasn't necessarily a trendy pastime?
We grew up in a really friendly atmosphere, so I'm not very well acquainted with the concept of the "outcast" or anything like that; we certainly didn't struggle with that too much.
How has Nebraska influenced the music you make?
I guess there's alot of vague stuff, as far as, like, lulls and what it was like being in the middle of the country and in a small city. That stuff becomes alot of abstract notions, like "Yeah, that probably offers a bit of humility in the songwriting." I think that bands who are growing up in Omaha now have a different experience, because now 14-year-olds do have scope of the local bands playing nationally and internationally. I'm assuming they're not going to have that same concept of humility and having such a tight feeling in their head of what they're able to do as a songwriter. That's what I think we had.
Many of your albums have been inspired by your life experiences—like your lung collapse for Cursive's The Ugly Organ. Do you find yourself pulling from particular childhood events when writing?
I probably do, and I probably would have to go talk to a therapist to find out what they are. [Laughs.] If I knew specifically what they were, I'd have some major breakthrough right now.
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