Saddle Creek | Tim Kasher | Reviews


In Your House: Tim Kasher

Author: Sean Neumann
03/17/2014 | buzz | | Feature
Tim Kasher has played in plenty of places, but soon he’ll be reverting back to how he started: playing house shows. The 39-year-old musician has fronted bands such as Cursive and The Good Life since the early 90s, but has recently taken his career a different route, releasing three solo albums since 2010.

Kasher’s teamed up with the Undertow Music Collective &emdash; a company that helps set up intimate tours with musicians normally filling clubs and concert halls. The Omaha-native will play 13 living room shows across the Midwest, including a stop in Champaign on Thursday, March 20. To discover the secret location of the show and attend, you must purchase a ticket on Undertow’s website. Buzz caught up with Kasher to talk about the living room tour and the special element house shows bring to music.

buzz: How did you get involved with the living room tours run by Undertow?

Tim Kasher: I mostly just wanted to try a different approach. I’ve been touring around for a long time and it’s nothing too unusual. I’m still promoting the latest record, but in lieu of hitting the same spots I thought I’d try a little something different in the Midwest. These are really the only dates I’m doing during the spring in the U.S. and then I’m going to Europe and doing the normal European tour. It felt like a way to change things up. I had some friends that were doing it, and they had a lot of good things to say.

buzz: Would you prefer playing smaller shows like this as opposed to playing in clubs?

TK: Well, I generally always liked playing smaller shows, mind you, I’ve never really played any huge venues other than festivals and stuff like that. But even when things starting hitting like 1,000 people, you were having a certain detachment from people. That, mind you, is considered “tiny” to a lot of musicians, but that’s considered “huge” to me (laughing). For my solo stuff, it’s not really crazy. It’s just a different venue.

buzz: Are you touring alone for the living room shows?

TK: My buddy Patrick (Newbery) is coming along too for accompaniment, both on stage and on the road. We’ve been playing together for a long time now. He’s in Cursive and plays on all of my solo things as well.

buzz: What made you want to do these types of shows now?

TK: Mostly that I wanted to be out touring some more. I did the whole country in October and I was kind of itching to go out and do some more shows in the U.S. prior to going overseas. I’m kind of hitting some of the same areas across the Midwest, but by doing this it’s a change of venue and in my mind that helps kind of freshen it up.

buzz: Are you mostly playing in strangers’ homes then or friends’ and tour contacts’ houses?

TK: (Laughs) It’s definitely strangers, yeah. Undertow’s the company that does it all and they field all of that. These are people who are not strangers to them, but I think there’s some new rooms they’re trying and are probably curious what I have to say about them, but I’m a pretty easy-going person. I don’t think anything too strange would happen.

buzz: Sounds like you’ve played in some strange places before then?

TK: Yeah, sure, tons of times (laughing). But I mean, really, a lot of venues can be pretty strange too. If you think about it, you can be booked into some pretty funny places sometimes. I think the audience will be familiar with my catalouge over the years and I’ll be in familiar territory once I get on stage, you know?

buzz: Does it make the show a little more special that a stranger is inviting you into their home to play music?

TK: Yeah, I mean, that’s a good way of looking at it. This is the first time doing it in this fashion, but I’ve done a lot of house shows. It’s probably not too different from that. If somebody’s planning a house show, they appreciate the music and they want to host it and want to put it on. It’s probably something like that, but this is just a little bit more…official, I suppose, with the tickets being sold online and what not.

buzz: Does this tour bring back some nostalgia from playing house shows early on in your career then?

TK: I haven’t thought a lot about that until these questions started popping up, but yeah, I think it’s reminding me very specifically of a few different times. Just when you’re starting out and you’re playing acoustic to friends at parties and those were really, really great confidence boosters when I was young &emdash; and for anybody when they’re young &emdash; because everybody’s just really captive and you kept an audience because you’re in a living room. I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s almost impolite to just chatter, and it’s that aspect of it that I’m really looking forward to versus playing venues that are essentially bars and what not, which I love to do and will always do. I think just for a change of pace, it’s going to be nice to have more of a captive audience and maybe I’ll be able to put a little more subtlety into the performance.

buzz: Have you had to play a few difficult shows with people talking through your set?

TK: Yeah, absolutely. It’s not an epidemic or anything (laughing). I think that’s pretty standard. Going back to when you start playing bigger places, it can be harder to connect to the 500th person sitting at the back of the bar with their friend. It can be easy to just kind of get into a conversation. It’s really when people are just talking right in front of you when it makes you feel kind of furious.

buzz: With these tours being more subtle and acoustic, is there anything emotionally different for you when playing music by yourself as opposed to a full band?

TK: Yeah, I specifically enjoy doing it because I like to keep my own tempo. It has to do a lot with the stuff that I write, but sometimes some of the expression can be lost when the tempo can’t be more flexible. But also, when you’re playing with a full band there’s a lot to gain as well. There’s definitely a give-and-take with that, but mostly I’m saying yes, I think it’s going to be kind of great to be playing some of these songs when it’s just me by myself.


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