Tim Kinsella established himself as an icon of emo and indie-rock in the 90’s as the front man for seminal bands Cap’n Jazz and Joan of Arc. Since then, solo music, reunion tours, directorial debuts, novel writing, and a relentless stream of output with his longstanding band Joan of Arc have kept Kinsella busy. In what was undoubtedly a rare, free moment for the artist, we asked him about songwriting, solo performances, and more. Don’t miss Tim Kinsella with The Dreebs at C’mon Everybody on April 8th.
Solo shows are something you’ve done on occasion in the past. What is it about this live format that has kept you interested in revisiting it over the years?
I think of the full-band versions and especially the recordings as very colorful, most often saturated digital colors but occasionally water colors or oil paints, most often with surprising color combinations. A certain percentage of the songs are very interesting to me stripped of all that. I think of them as drawings with a ball point pen. I like how much white space is left for the listener to insert herself into. And I like the mechanics of the song being on display. And I like the wobble in the tightrope.
How do you feel your songwriting process and music has evolved over the years and throughout the different projects you’ve been in?
Oof. That’s tough one. I spend such an insane ratio of my time playing music and it’s always a joy and it’s always a surprise, but it’s always a puzzle. I can’t identify any real different ambitions, but for 20 years I’ve been consistently honing in on some preoccupations with space and tension and release. And I’ve gotten much more efficient at expressing myself. I know what move to make to express a particular nuance. The margin of error in performance has been refined to a much more subtle standard. The dynamics are subtler. But the end goals are probably pretty similar: unlikely collages / structural integrity / expressing things that seem to be just beyond what’s possible to express, etc
What music are you currently listening to?
I’m really liking this group from Detroit Injury Reserve. And a lot of Muslim Gauze. And a lot of Esplendor Geometrico. There’s always a lot of Terry Riley and Arnold Dreyblatt in my life. I like Paranoid London and Sleaford Mods a lot.
Beyond music, you’re involved in running the publishing house Featherproof and writing novels of your own. Does your involvement in the literary world complement your musical pursuits, or do you have to make a conscious effort to compartmentalize those two aspects of your life?
They are undoubtedly just parallel practices within the same impulses and sensibilities. They inform each other a lot, just in that I am aware of keeping everything I know about everything on hand whenever I’m invested in something. Cuz honestly I don’t know much! I need every trick on hand that I have access to! So editing tricks seep into the songs and musical dynamics seep into the writing. It’s weird how all my waking hours I am doing one or the other and I know that I am never ever as happy as when I’m playing music, but for some reason I still feel compelled to work on writing projects which never ever give me the same satisfaction in the immediate.
What’s next for Tim Kinsella? Anything you’re currently working on that you feel inclined to plug?
Yah! New JOA record 1984 out in June. New band with my girlfriend Good Fuck out early next year. Thrilled to be alive and surprised every day!
Thank You for having me come play!!
Interview by Adele Sakey
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