Lazy-i Interview: Tim Kasher, Pt. 2 (his voice, criticism and his ugly album art explained); QUASI, Jeffrey Lewis tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
And here’s Pt. 2 of the Tim Kasher interview. Pt. 1 was posted yesterday. Both parts are in this week’s issue of The Reader. Pick up a copy at your local news rack or bar or coffee shop or convenient store today.
Over the Edge: Leftover Kasher
Like the headline says, here’s some leftover wisdom from Tim Kasher that didn’t make it into the feature story. I thought it would be a shame to leave it on the cutting room floor.
For example, nowhere in the feature story did I explain the title of Kasher’s new album, Adult Film, and the origin of its hideous cover art. Hopefully Eric in production has a copy of the artwork to include with this column so you can see just how repulsive it truly is. So gruesome is the cover that I almost dropped the CD’s jewel case when I took it out of the promo mailer’s envelope.
The artwork is actually quite simple — it’s a nude head-and-shoulder photo of Kasher covered in some sort of greasy, slimy substance, as if a giant woman-thing gave birth to him full-grown only moments prior to the shoot. Mixed in with the shiny, viscous substance are bits of what look like shit or placenta or snot balls. Even Kasher’s well-combed hair lays flat like it hadn’t been washed in a couple weeks. The photo is just straight fucking gross; so ugly you can practically smell it.
The art is made all the more disturbing by the placement of the words ADULT FILM in yellow all-caps on top of a black bar that blocks out Kasher’s eyes, as if to hide his identity even though his name appears right above his head.
Creepy. Needless to say, there had to be some sort of meaning behind it.
“There’s not a ton to it, and I feel like I suffer when I explain it,” Kasher said sheepishly. “I just quite simply saw the two words ‘adult film’ in my head and I separated them from what they’ve come to mean in our society. I tend to play around with words, and it occurred to me how odd those words were together. They’ve come to mean ‘pornography’ and nothing else. but if they had never been used for pornography they would conjure this gross thought; this film that people collect that gets wrinkled and corse as it goes old and untouched.
“I think (in that context) it’s fitting for the album’s subject matter. That meaning casts a wide net. It’s a catch-all for mortality and getting older, but also about career and dating and aging and whatever pursuit you happen to be in.”
He said said he’s “a little uneasy with the porno aspect” of the title. As for the guck, “It’s Vaseline and dirt; potting soil and some mulch and some green dye to give it a bit of a sheen.”
Aren’t you glad I asked?
At one point during our interview I also asked Kasher about his vocals on the album’s roaring, rolling opener “American Lit,” and told him it reminded me of something from Slowdown Virginia, one of Kasher’s first bands from way back in ’93 that some say was a starting point for what would become the Saddle Creek scene.
“That’s a relief to me,” Kasher said. “I sing lower almost always now. I’ve been having vocal issues over the last four years. I write in low registers just in case. I just can’t stay on top of it. I don’t know when it’s going to go out next, with bronchitis or something.”
That was a surprise. So was Kasher’s comments about Help Wanted Nights. I mentioned that Adult Film was my favorite Kasher album since that classic 2007 album by his other band, The Good Life. It turns out that Help Wanted Nights also was notable to Kasher, but for a different reason.
“It was the first time that I got bad reviews,” he said. “It knocked me down for like two days, and then for the next few records I watched (the reviews) a little bit more than before. It became a sick curiosity, and I got a little obsessed.”
Kasher said he eventually got past his preoccupation with critics. “I’m not going to do that anymore,” he said. “It’s not that I’m against critics, it’s that they’re not the ones who I should be writing for.”
Help Wanted Nights was actually a sort of soundtrack to an unproduced script of the same name. Written a few years prior to the album’s release, it was the first script Kasher tried to get produced, catching the interest of a handful of Los Angeles money people. Still, six years later, the script remains unshot.
“I set it aside just before I began working on (The Game of) Monogamy (Kasher’s 2010 debut solo album). It had some renewed interest for a few months.”
Kasher hasn’t given up his silver-screen dreams. “I have another script being worked on to go into production,” he said. The new one is about couple swapping — ironic, considering the title of this new album.
Kasher said the movie business is “a hard game with a lot of money involved I keep writing and handing stuff out, and here and there get reactions. I’ll cautiously kind of let it play itself out and see what happens.”
One last thing I forgot to mention in the feature: Adult Film doesn’t come out until next Tuesday, Oct. 8, on Saddle Creek Records (of course). You should pick up a copy when you go to see Kasher and his band celebrate its release at The Waiting Room Saturday night. Whatever you do, don’t judge the record by its cover.
Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published in The Reader, Oct. 2, 2103. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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One of the biggest shows of the month takes place tonight at Slowdown Jr.
Some of you may not be old enough to remember Quasi and the Portland band’s seminal 1998 album Featuring “Birds,” but it was one of the defining albums of the late ’90s and the high water mark this band. Frontman Sam Coomes had just left two pretty successful bands — Donner Party and Heatmiser, a band that also featured Elliot Smith — to form this band with Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss. Featuring “Birds” came out of nowhere and was a critical smash thanks to ultra cool songs like “I Never Want to See You Again,” “The Poisoned Well,” and of course “California.” Heck, every track is good.
Six more albums followed, including their just released Mole City, which came out Tuesday on Kill Rock Stars. Tonight’s show kicks off their tour in support of that album.
Joining Quasi is Jeffrey Lewis, who’s album End Result (2007, Rough Trade), is one of my faves. Lewis has recorded with Kimya Dawson and most recently with Peter Stampfel. Our very own See Through Dresses opens. You get all three for a mere $15. Starts at 9. GO!!
Also tonight, Louisville, KY singer/songwriter Cheyenne Mize (Yep Rock Records) plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Eli Mardock and Blue Bird. $5, 9:30 p.m.
And The Waiting Room is hosting another Songwriter Death Battle featuring 40 or so local singer/songwriters passing around John Klemmenson’s beat-up acoustic guitar for one song apiece. Hear Nebraska has the line-up info right here. $5, 9 p.m.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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