This week’s feature/interview is with Lincoln’s favorite red-headed son, The Show Is the Rainbow (read it here). The story focuses almost entirely on Darren Keen’s new CD, Gymnasia, which will be celebrated Saturday night at Sokol Underground. Among the stuff that didn’t make it into the story is why Darren left his last label, UK’s Tsk Tsk Records, which released 2005’s Radboyz Only!
“Tsk Tsk was never really something I was going to do forever,” Keen said. “The record sold fine, I sold a ton of them on tour, but I’m not sure how many we sold in stores or if we sold any in America. It wasn’t going anywhere. When I finished Gymnasia, I sent a copy to Kill Rock Stars, GSL, SAF, no more than seven labels. Matt Driscoll of SAF wrote back right away.” Keen wanted the label to release it last summer, but SAF wasn’t ready and Keen was considering releasing it himself. After a 75-day tour, however, he had a change of heart. “I was shell-shocked,” he said. “I told them I was willing to wait until they were ready.” That time off was spent finding a booking agent and a company to handle press.
And speaking of press, Darren says he’s getting tired of all those Har Mar Superstar comparisons. “I sound nothing like that,” he said. “We were just talking about bands being hesitant to compare themselves to other bands. Comparisons are cool, but when someone compares me to Har Mar, fuck that. I could see a little of that in the beginning, but to be honest, a lot of Omaha indie dudes saw me early and wrote me off as a Har Mar wannabe. I honestly really don’t give a shit, I don’t care who does or doesn’t like the band.”
I also have heard TSITR compared to Har Mar, but never really bought into it. The only thing they really have in common is that they’re both in-your-face one-man performers and they’re both somewhat overweight. Har Mar’s shtick is being the ultimate lounge-lizard lady’s man and is pure comedy. Har Mar isn’t Sean Tillman, he’s a character that Tillman played on stage (and which he eventually became tired of, though he says HMSS will be back). TSITR was/is Keen in all his over-the-top glory. It’s not an alter-ego, it’s Darren speaking his mind — this time mostly about the music industry — over home-made music, in front of a homemade video, standing amongst the crowd on the floor. Musically, there is no similarity between the two projects. But Darren may never shake Har Mar from his back, if this piece in the Daily Iowan is any example.
One thing Darren has left behind on this record are his attacks on Saddle Creek Records’ artists, which highlighted his last couple CDs. This time you won’t hear a single reference to Conor Oberst. Ironically, it’s Conor who may have sent an unintentional salvo at TSITR’s CD release show when yesterday it was announced that Bright Eyes will be performing a last-minute show at Murphy’s Lounge this Saturday night. The $15 tickets go on sale this afternoon at 5 p.m. from the One Percent Productions website. Also on the bill is Maria Taylor, who’s new album, Lynn Teeter Flower, is the best thing she’s ever produced (with or without Orenda). If you want to make it to this 21-and-over-only show, you better click on that One Percent link right at 5. Murphy’s, an Irish-themed lounge located at 96th and L, only has a capacity of a few hundred, so this one will sell out quick.
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