The mighty and prolific Tim Kasher of The Good Life (also that band you may of heard of Cursive) has just started a late summer/fall tour to help promo
The mighty and prolific Tim Kasher of The Good Life (also that band you may of heard of Cursive) has just started a late summer/fall tour to help promote their new album Everybody’s Coming Down recently released on Saddle-Creek records.
The album marks the return of the side-project that has been inactive for almost seven years but still delivers the melodic underbelly of despair and lyrical prowess of the Tim Kasher we all know and love.
The Good Life will play Strange Matter this Friday night and will mark the first time the band has played Richmond.
Tim was kind enough to chat about The Good Life, his other band Cursive, his screenwriting, his lack of relationship advice, and his enteral love for David Bowie.
You’ve played Richmond a few times, any place that sticks out?
Yeah, I think I played a place called Chopstix a really long time ago. I think that was in Richmond. It was like a second floor of an Asian restaurant that had black and white checkered floors and mirrors on the wall …. I think that was Chopstix in Richmond. (Laughs)
Wasn’t there a place called something like Alley Katz right?
Yeah, that was here. It closed a few years back after changing names. It became Kingdom and now it’s nothing, as far I know. (Editor’s note, it was The Top most recently)
Yeah, I’ve talked to people about it and wasn’t it precarious and had difficulty?
Yeah it was our little punk venue for a long while, but it sadly went the way of the dinosaur. Fortunately I think Richmond has better venues now in my opinion.
So it’s been a long while since we’ve heard from The Good Life, what’s been up? I think it’s been seven years since the last record was out.
Yeah “Help Wanted Nights” came out in 2007, which has been a while. So it’ll be eight years since that release. Well I think our intention would have been to band back together a lot sooner than this but I think we just kept getting busy with different projects. Personally speaking for myself I just wasn’t finding that gap, and I kept moving with Cursive and solo stuff that I wasn’t finding that gap to fit The Good Life in. You just kind of have to decide you are going to out a Good Life record in 2015 and that settles it and that’s what we did.
For you to do that, do you have to pretty much plan a year ahead?
Yeah we really did. I started writing songs like back in the fall of 2013 to see if this was going to be a good idea or not. It’s not like I wanted to go to the band totally empty-handed and be like “Hey, maybe we can write a record?” when I don’t have any songs. In so in January of 2014 we kind of made the long term plan of being all on board and since we all live in different cities. So if we’re all on board we can meet in L.A. in the summer and then record it. Roger and I both met up in Omaha I remember, and a few other times maybe before, and we recorded it in the summer of this year.
Yeah, so it was all a very pre-meditated thing. We no longer have the convenience of living down the street from each other, getting together, playing badminton, and practicing three times a week, you know?
So it was considerable effort?
This album is a lot more noisy and “rock” than the previous ones. Was that the intention?
We didn’t set out or say “we should do a rock record”, but I did have the intent of, I wanted to write a record that would fully compliment the musicians, The Good Life players, and also I wanted to write a record that they would be really into. I think this record is a better representation of who they are as a band, myself included and the four of us together.
In the past records we did, initially it was just me doing The Good Life. But now since I have a solo act going, I feel like that’s where I can put my own stuff. So what would be the justification of bringing the Good Life back together? That’s kind of how I thought of it, it should be because it’s us fully as a representation of what that band is. That’s what I think this record is.
Well it seemed like maybe the first two records were more of a singer-songwriter kind of entity. It was more of a counter to Cursive in a way?
So this has almost become a new band?
Yeah, we didn’t feel the need to come out and for it to be totally different. We never said that. I think the songs that sounded more, and we discussed it, like we should keep this song and songs A, B, and C because they are more representative of what The Good Life sounds like and what people are familiar with. But ultimately we felt a little bored by that cause that just something that we’ve already done. We just had all these songs that sounded to us a bit more interesting, I think. It seems like a newer pressure for us to release.
So I think that’s why it ended up sounding different. The one thing I did set out and did say, we even joke about it, I said to them at the first practice that it would be great to be an “alternative” rock band. In the sense that what we grew up with, like The Pixies were an alternative band, an alternative band like that. Those are my roots and you know, like Violent Femmes. It would be something that would be playing on 120 Minutes if 120 Minutes was still a thing.
I wish it were. Oh man. Well, I guess you can make YouTube your own private 120 Minutes but it’s not as fun.
(Laughs) Yeah. Gosh, shouldn’t we do that? It would be such a good idea to just do our own 120 Minutes? Just curate some YouTube videos I guess to play?
Yeah, I had the idea to do that. I always thought it would be fun to make little segways between the videos and post them in a list or something. I’d imagine Vevo or whatever would shut it down if it ever became something.
I think it would be fun. All these channels and networks and stuff, somebody should do it.
Yeah. I miss music videos.
Yeah, it’s like they’re all there, just go to YouTube and check them out. But it’s just not the same experience of having a TV show that’s curated, you know? It’s more fun that way.
Yeah MTV used to have Subterranean and I would see Cursive videos on that.
Yeah. That’s what 120 Minutes eventually became and then it became no more. Unfortunately.
This record has a lot of themes of growing old but not settling down quite yet. Would you agree?
Yeah, I mean, songs like “Forever Coming Down” are kind of a childish insistence to not cool down. Yeah I think it’s a question I’ve been asking myself for at least 10 years now. It’s kind of the great thing about playing music, it’s a great excuse for you not to mature all that much.
What’s the inspiration for the album title?
I would say the core idea for the record, as far as lyrical content, I was thinking more about, that fucking depressing feeling of coming down of anything. Whether that specifically is a hangover or just like a party that is over, or some kind of event, or even just the big milestones in your life and being in the wake of them. It’s like a bit of a downer and it made me think that we’re always anticipating something to come or about to come, or we’re coming down from something already occurred.
But also I think it has the whole broad thing of all of us getting older and dying…
Has the live band evolved, especially for this tour? I saw the band play back in 2007 for the Help Wanted Nights tour, has it changed at all?
No, actually that’s kind of the point we’ve been trying to keep with The Good Life and as a four-piece. So it’s just, still us.
I really liked that album and how it all seemed to be a story in there, there was a script written for that album right? Was that written first or second?
Thanks. I kind of did them in tandem. Screenwriting has been a thing I’ve been doing ever since then. That’s always been kind of the ethic root of what I wanted to do. I wanted to tell stories since I was young, since I was really young. I picked up the guitar because there was one in the house and I always really loved music. I had older sisters and brothers, so I was able to listen to great music even I was really young like Violent Femmes, The Cure, The Smiths and so on. So the guitar, when I was like 14 years old, was like the most immediate way that I could start creating something “now”, you know when you’re kind of becoming somebody? That was just the main drive; I just had to be writing things immediately so songs were more tangible for me. Especially versus being 14 years old and writing entire stories or writing entire screenplays I didn’t have that kind of attention or drive to do that.
Is this something you think you think you’ll continue to do?
Yeah, I’ve been doing it. Like, I shot my first script last December and I’ve been editing that. So that’s something just now I’ve been kind of putting it all together.
Was there a specific vision of what kind of movie you wanted “Help Wanted Nights” to be?
Um, no it was all set in a bar so it was going to be a pretty dusty drama, like maybe a Sam Shepard kind of play or something.
A few years ago, an online friend of mine went through a bad breakup and I recommended a bunch of records to him to help him through it and the specific one I gave him was “Album of the Year”.
Well we both were really into it talked about it off and on for years. I never went through anything quite like that, but it really spoke to me and I always go back to it. Any thoughts on that one since it’s been 11 years since it’s release?
Certainly for us as a band that album has been good to us, so I’m grateful in that regard. Some of the songs off that record are still the highlights when we play shows. The song “Album Of The Year” certainly.
I once read a long time ago that you didn’t like the song “Under A Honeymoon”. Is that true at all?
Yeah, kind of. (Laughs) I wouldn’t say I dislike it. Despite being pretty hard on myself as far as being critical I’m pretty okay with most everything I release. There are very few songs I regret having released. You know, I have issues with it. To me, it felt like an unfinished composition. It’s kind of like technical stuff for reasons why I guess.
Well I really liked that song and I think the reason why is just the production of it. Mike Mogis was the producer behind that record. I think that was the last record you did with him. Any chance you’ll work with him again?
Actually he did the record after that I think, “Happy Hallow”, that Cursive record. I would love to work with Mike again. He’s a great friend. I’ve just been adventurous the last several years working with different engineers and producers. It’s never been a dissatisfaction of Mogis, I think Mogis is the best guy I’ve worked with.
Is there a difference between, in your eyes, Cursive fans and The Good Life fans?
I think this might seem odd, but I think that’s a better question for Cursive and Good Life fans. I think they could answer that better. Cause maybe they’re the ones having conversations about that amongst themselves you know? I think maybe I’m a little blind to it. I do recognize there is a separation but I think the biggest percentage is where the two meet up. If that makes sense…
I think there has to be a lot of crossover.
That’s what I’m trying to say. My perception is that that is greater than the Cursive-only fans or Good Life-only fans. But those people certainly exist as well and they let me know about it too. (Laughs) Which is fine with me. It’s always a compliment when somebody likes anything that I do or that I write.
But yeah, people will let me know that they are a Cursive fan, but not really a Good Life fan. Well, that’s pretty cool you can get into Cursive, you know? But it’s also cool conversely when people let me know they only got into Good Life but not Cursive. I can respect that they aren’t into Cursive.
Do you ever meet new people that don’t know you’re a singer-songwriter and then later find out and about your work, do you ever think that changes they way they feel about you? You write really personal stuff.
Yeah, I don’t know. I would say, and this is just me speaking self-consciously, I do worry there is a bit of a stigma of who I am, (Laughs), because of the type of music I write. When I meet people who are familiar with who I am, they’re like “Oh right, that guy, that guy who writes sad stuff”, you know? (Laughs) That’s okay, people like myself just have to suck it up.
Like say maybe you go on a date with somebody who isn’t too familiar with your work and they eventually check it out and go “Whoa, this is pretty intense”. I always wonder if artist ever really think about that.
Yeah, now that you bring it up, it is kind of an unusual part of new relationships. When I work with new people on different projects and they take an interest in what I do, they ask me “So what is this music stuff that you do anyway?” and I don’t know how that goes. (Laughs) I guess they just go off on YouTube and start checking it out. Who knows what they think.
Do many people ask you for relationship advice since your music is heavy on failed relationships?
Oddly I used to get people asking me that forever ago; it’s such a joke to me. When Domestica had come out, people were asking me all the time, and they specifically wanted to talk about their relationships. I made little sense to me cause Domestica felt like an expression of a person who doesn’t know how relationships work.
Like it was an abstract version of you?
Yeah, it seemed like the story of Domestica was somebody getting pummeled in their relationship and then like giving up. So it seemed like I wasn’t the kind of guy to give advice.
So if anybody were to offer you a relationship advice column, would you take it?
(Laughs) Nah, I guess I would just find it kind of dull.
When I saw you on The Game of Monogamy tour, you mentioned you were really into David Bowie at the time, what have you been into lately?
Yeah, everybody loves David Bowie and I’ve always loved David Bowie, but I was really into him when I was doing that record. I’m not really sure what’s been influencing me lately. I will mention that Sharon Van Etten I think is just the best. I think that’s the best music out there right now. Something I really appreciate about Sharon Van Etten is that I don’t really understand how or why her music appeals to me so much but I like to maintain that mystery to it. I don’t want really want to understand it.
You’ve been touring for almost 20 years now, has touring gotten easier or harder?
It’s not gotten harder. It’s probably easier just in the sense that you know a lot of the clubs, you know a lot of the cities, you know the people there and know what to do. That’s the benefit of being on stage so much over the years; I rarely get anxiety about playing or getting on stage. I think I enjoy it. I think it’s fun.