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Interview: A chat with Tim Kasher ahead of his stop at The Mill as he tours with the first album on his new label

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Tim Kasher, w/ John Bradley, Campdogzz

The Mill — Sunday, June 11 at 8 p.m.

Tim Kasher will be at The Mill on Sunday, June 11. — photo via timkasher.com

Tim Kasher will bring his five-piece band to the Mill on Sunday, 11 June, as part of a tour promoting his newest album, No Resolution, which accompanies a movie of the same name that he wrote and directed. The frontman of both Cursive and the Good Life in addition to being a solo artist, Kasher’s work has remained consistently solid even as he explores within different styles and genres of sounds. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 at the door.

So: No Resolution is your new album, and it accompanies a movie that you wrote and directed by the same title. What’s the relationship?

We made a point to keep the record and the movie separate. I’ve been putting out records myself — Cursive, the Good Life, Tim Kasher. The tour I’m currently doing is promoting the record itself. It’s the third release under the newer catalog under my own name, but it also works, ultimately, as a companion piece under the same name (No Resolution), so the songs are also used in the movie. I wrote and directed the movie. The score pieces are all between the more proper song tracks on the album.

We wanted to discourage calling it a soundtrack. Especially for people like me playing with different styles — we didn’t want people to not listen to the album as its own thing. It’s meant to stand alone.

How does recording under different monikers affect your approach to making art?

There’s definitely a clear-cut different mindset to a Cursive record — and a different approach. I look for different riffs, different musical ideas, and the song structure will be based on that. I approach it differently — there’s an understanding that the song will go into more of a louder area.

The Good Life and my own name are pretty similar — I never intended to separate them, exactly. It’s chord and melody based. The Good Life ends up being a bit different than my solo stuff because the presence of the band alters things — they have input on it. The solo stuff gets more orchestrated. I’m not as worried about Ryan having a great guitar part. Instead, I can put tympani, or strings — it gives me freedom.

How does the freedom affect you?

It’s exciting. Something that’s a disabling setback for doing stuff under my own name is that it takes a lot longer. It’s painstaking, even though I love every minute of it. I have assistance on drums, so Dylan will accompany me and we’ll work on a rhythm together. But after that, I’m sitting there. Adult Film, the second album, I did as a band — but for No Resolution, the new record, you’re cobbling together an album and the arrangements from the ground up. It just takes five times longer. I mean, for example, I don’t have to worry about the bass line, with the band.

What about the movie?

I started my life with an intense passion for movies — my younger self’s version of being an astronaut or fireman was to be a movie director. As a teenager, I wanted to get into storytelling and being creative. We had a guitar in my house, so I started feverishly learning guitar chords — and that snowballed early and kept going and I ended up building a career out of it, which I never expected. I totally appreciate that it happened, and I learned that songwriting is hugely important. I stumbled into it, in a sense. If there hadn’t been that earlier interest in what I was doing — who knows. But I had in the back of my mind a need to get back to it.

How did you make this work?

A huge benefit of working with a microbudget — I’m lucky that the movies I love are slower, dialogue-heavy dramas. I gravitate toward Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I love stuff like that — it has a lot of set pieces, and it’s mostly dialogue driven. It’s a question of great actors — and I didn’t need to spend a lot of money.

I’m hesitant to delve into anything too tone heavy — like a thriller, or comedy, or horror … A drama is also tone heavy, but for whatever reason, I feel like the scripts that I write … I can manage — there are others I don’t think that I can. But a lot of the filmmaking — I just jumped into it. With confidence and hubris, which was the only way I could get it done, but I had a great crew out of Chicago with actors in Chicago — I was living in Chicago at the time, so it was all local that way, too.

Kasher’s new record, ‘No Resolutions,’ is the first on Cursive’s new label. — photo via timkasher.com

You’ve moved around a lot since leaving Omaha: how does your living space change your approach to making art?

I haven’t really discovered an answer to this question. What I do think: I know that it’s a good question because it is absolutely true. We’re always being affected and influenced by our surroundings. I’ve struggled to find direct correlations to albums in different states or times. Or — not times, because I can see the times in my life. I can see the mindset change between being 20 and being 40. But in terms of locale — I know that it’s there, but it’s vague.

I like Omaha, though. There’s a work ethic and a freedom that comes from the Midwest — and a freedom in expression that comes from smaller cities and more remote parts of the country. The expression can be more pure from those areas. We can all see it, in the bigger cities, the tendency for writers and artists to think and to find success. I can imagine the difference of a band in Brooklyn vs. Omaha: They see their venues [in Brooklyn] as outlets for national exposure, which is something different — [in Omaha] you’re playing for your friends and finding new local fans. You just do it because you do it.

What’s next for you?

It’s all kind of vague because nothing has been solidified yet. The guys in Cursive — we started a new label and we want to release something on our own label. We’ve been playing around, but nothing has solidified. I’ve written a few other scripts since this movie. It’s a tenuous point where there’s nothing concrete. I’m eager to make a second film because I have so much new knowledge.

No Resolution is the first release from your new label, 15 Passenger. Why did you feel the need to start a label?

It all started with Matt wanting to have more control over Cursive’s back catalog — nothing against Saddle Creek, but we’re pretty DIY. It’s pretty normal, but it grew as we developed it. It’s not a good business model. It’s nothing like a wide profit margin — it’s more that we’ve been in a DIY industry for 20 years and we love it. We can release our own things, but also have developed daydreams of starting to release other stuff too — to give back to the community, if that turns out. We may not break bands, but if we could help bands get to the next place, that’d be cool.


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