The Game of Monogamy
That's how Tim Kasher explains his new music and where he's at in life.
An indie-sized success as the frontman of Cursive and the Good Life, Kasher's branching into a solo career. He's moved back to Omaha. He's no longer married (though that's been the case for a while).
His new album, "The Game of Monogamy," is an analysis of said game — its highs and its lows. And it veers into a new musical path for Kasher.
It has some orchestral arrangements and is much less guitar-driven than his other bands. It's truly a new effort, not just his name on songs that could have been a new Cursive album.
A tour to support the record brings him to the Waiting Room on Friday night.
Kasher is 36. It's not quite time for a midlife crisis, and that's not what he's having, he says. But he is looking at love, marriage and relationships in a new way, and he plans to ride out this solo thing as long as he can.
While he got ready for a show in Salt Lake City, we had a long chat on the phone. Here's what he had to say about love, marriage and music.
Kevin Coffey: This isn't the first time you've written songs about love and marriage.
Tim Kasher: No, it's not. But I think it's one of the primary issues for any of our personal wish fulfillments. It's like a career and love. I think it's fairly normal for it to be addressed. I think I find it more interesting to deconstruct it than to do love songs, which I don't have a tendency to write.
I try to avoid bringing up the topic every time. I'll set it down for a couple years and then I'll bring it back when there's something else for me to say about it.
KC: You seem to have the male perspective of the whole thing down pretty well.
TK: I try to express those obnoxious qualities of males, but address it without coming off as pure misogyny.
Some of the lines like that are so obnoxious. I also like those exposing that. I'm kind of admitting those ugly traits. Through admitting them, I'm saying men are obnoxious people.
KC: Why did you take this album in a different musical direction?
TK: I think that the instrumentation and orchestration are a byproduct of me being really excited about putting something out under my own name and being able to do anything I wanted.
Writing as a band, there's a whole other different sent of qualities — working with your friends and constructing something together. That was just me being really excited about choosing any tambour that I can come up with.
I also scored a movie a couple years ago ("My Suicide") and that got me really energized in another realm of songwriting.
KC: What did that do for your music?
TK: I was so excited, and I still can't write or read or chart music, so I have to have someone to do that for me. It's so exciting to get a thrill out of writing these arrangements and hearing them performed.
KC: Where did you find all of the musicians for your album?
TK: I was up in Montana at the time, so I just had to tap into their music world. And it was mostly symphony players and hired-gun folk. Erin Tate of Minus the Bear, upon hearing we were doing it in Whitefish (Mont.), he was really excited.
Matt (Maginn) and Erin were really the rhythm section. That was great. Matt came up and lived in Whitefish for a while. Patrick Newberry (a touring member of Cursive) was also really there all along the way.
KC: So why did you make this a solo record?
TK: Realistically, or not unreasonably, this could have been a Good Life record, but it would have come out a lot differently since the Good Life records reflect the style those friends of mine represent.
It might have been circumstantial. I was in L.A. at the time and was ready to start a new project and kind of felt like I was getting to an age where maybe it's not a bad idea to put my name on something.
It's kind of how I want to ride out this whole music thing, not that I'm done with this whole thing yet. I'm hoping for it to be the first of a new catalog of records.
I think it's for the best that we got to this conclusion. That's what I had done 10 years ago. The first Good Life record was putting out my first solo record, so to speak. At that point, I contemplated putting it under my own name. I didn't have the confidence or (I was) not sure it was appropriate.
There's a lot to consider when you're using your own name. There's politics. It's under (your) own name and you're playing with these stellar musicians and how are they being represented? It's easier to go under a band moniker.
Fortunately, the Good Life actually became a band.
KC: What do you think about being a solo artist?
TK: I hate to use the word "solo." I think that when artists go solo, it has something slightly derogatory to it. To me, I see it just another in a line.
For me, it's a different header or moniker, just the next record giving me the right to use different instrumentation and work with different people.
But back to my point. I recognize that just because we like a band, we don't follow things through. My years of following music, there's been plenty of times when I don't follow solo artists to that next project. I just didn't expect anyone to do that with this, either.
I have the hunch that you kind of found your fans years ago and those are the people that are following you now and those are the people that you hope you keep appealing to.
The other reality that I find so curious and incredible that we're finding different listeners with everything we put out. Which is really what you should be doing. You don't want to do damage control on your older fans and hope you keep as many as you can.
But it's odd to think this year I'm developing this base of listeners that will go back and listen to Cursive and Good Life records.
KC: Others in the Saddle Creek stable have gone away from the label for different projects in recent years. Why have you stayed?
TK: The Faint and Conor had totally legitimate reasons for trying other things out. There's never been any loss of friendship. We're all just releasing in different ways and finding different listeners.
I mean, I don't really have an answer because I don't think much about it. I'm just glad to have somebody that has my back.
KC: What's next for you?
TK: This is a really long tour and still only a first tour. There's a European one being set up for February. And I'm thinking about doing another round of the country after that.
This tour is the longest set of dates I've ever taken on. Fifteen years ago, I think the thought was, tour hard right now and it will probably slow down when you get older. Instead you become so accustomed to it.
I feel like a total truck driver.
KC: Will this Omaha show be any different than when you played here the last few times?
TK: This show will be a helluva lot more put together. We'll do most of the record and then do some covers, including what I call "covers" of my other bands.
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