The Good Life: An Interview with Tim Kasher

I love indie rock. Cursive is indie rock. So is Tim’s other band, The Good Life. Sometimes when I listen to Storms of Early Summer, I’ll listen to Album of the Year directly after. They are a part of a whole. A body of work from one of our generations most talented artists. I had the pleasure of drinking with Matt and Tim at the bowling alley in Claremont a few years back before a Cursive show. It was great. I had the pleasure of drinking with Tim at the Casbah before a Good Life show a few years back as well. Music and booze–the bringer together of people and things.

the good lifeOmaha, Nebraska, is known for its rash of indie rock bands that bubbled up to the surface of the mainstream in the past few years. Bands like The Faint, Cursive and Bright Eyes have burst out of obscurity and ‘fringe’ into a quality music-hungry public itching for something new and honest and, of course, relevant. It’s a local scene that has taken its queue’s from like-minded record companies like Dischord and Jade Tree—labels that make the big companies flush with envy.

There, in Omaha, amidst the wind from the Rocky Mountains and the tan and green sea of wheat and corn, are where most of the bands housed on local record company, Saddle Creek, reside. Founded by members of Cursive and The Faint, Saddle Creek has etched out a successful niche in a market that has been rife with poorly conceived music. Saddle Creek, like its contemporaries, offered up the alternative

Tim Kasher, lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Cursive, has another band that many neophyte Cursive fans may be unfamiliar with called, The Good Life. Originally started as an alternative outlet for Tim’s prolific songwriting, The Good Life has come into its own as one of the great bands that, while maintaining Tim’s vocal style and honest lyrics, separates itself nicely and equally apart from his other project.

The Good Life’s latest outing on Saddle Creek is titled, Album of the Year. All pretense aside, Album of the Year is a trip through the months of the year beginning with that lonely halfling month of April (“Album of the Year”), and ending with that decidedly bright spring month of March (“Two Years This Month”). A highly talented songwriter, Tim takes the listener on a journey of a year in a relationship, a theme that rears its head in almost all of his compositions. Whereas for Cursive, Tim’s lyrics are a bit more esoteric, with The Good Life his prose is much more user-friendly.

Tim was about 14 when he picked up his first guitar and joined his first band, March Hares, with fellow Cursive member and bassist Matt Maginn. Tim’s first recollection of music came when he was a child. “I remember sitting around Sunday morning on the floor as my parents read the paper, and I think that’s what I think of when looking back. I think that’s when I started understanding music as it was coming out of the speakers, I also learned how to put records on because we had all these 7-inch and albums.

“I took some local music lessons when I was a teenager and took some classical guitar lessons when I was in college, but not for very long,” he adds.

“I think at the time they helped, but I’d like to go and take them again. I took some vocal lessons also, just to help me learn how to sing correctly. I think any kind of intensive studying of guitar is helpful.”

Just after Cursive released a split EP, 8 Teeth to Eat You, with Japanese rockers Eastern Youth, Tim had a life-changing experience in the form of a collapsed lung. It was an unfortunate event that took him off the road for several months and made many fans step up to the plate, giving what they could by way of donations to help him pay for the costly operation and rehabilitation. While it was a traumatizing event for Tim, it also was a time of great healing. He says, “It took a while. But doing the vocals for Ugly Organ kind of doubled as therapy. The first day that we started, we looked at each other and thought maybe we should wait another six months, but as we did it my vocals grew stronger every day. I think the positive benefit of something like that happening was that I lived a very healthy lifestyle for a big chunk of time. I was in a smoke-free environment in the hospital for a long time, and when I was recovering I wasn’t drinking at all and getting a lot of sleep. It was actually a good opportune time for my lungs and vocal chords to get cleaned out.”

An experience like that would seem like the kind to change a person—or perhaps the way they go about creating a song. Yet, Tim says, “I don’t ever really feel like it has (changed). As an example, I don’t ever really think about it that much because it was a very mortal experience so it’s kind of a lot different than your run-of-the-mill difficult situation. It’s more serious because you don’t know if you’re living or dying so you kind just shut off, or at least that’s what I did. It’s probably the most emotionless I’ve ever been. So I don’t think it’s really had an effect on anything like that.”

When it comes to writing for The Good Life, Tim says, “It’s not really all that different (from Cursive). I write for both on acoustic guitar and tend to write mostly in my apartment. The difference is that I think I have a tendency to write more Good Life songs because I have a more relaxed approach to writing for that band, just more for the joy of playing guitar and humming along to it and writing lyrics.

“It’s more of a natural process. Cursive is a lot of sitting down and playing guitar but not really coming up with things that I think are right. Those songs get translated so differently when it gets to the band, so sometimes when I bring something that I think is okay, it gets translated by the band and it sounds great. And sometimes I’ll bring something to the band that I think is great and something gets lost in the translation and doesn’t turn out so great.

“I don’t know—I guess it’s more of a profit thing with Cursive and more enjoyable with The Good Life. But I like working, so I like the difficult process,” he adds with a laugh.

If Cursive is ‘buzzworthy,’ then The Good Life is exactly what its name suggests—good but filled with all that ‘life’ stuff that comes with waking up every morning.

Visit www.saddle-creek.com for more info on The Good Life

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