Tag Archives: The Good Life

Keeping Up With Kasher

February 3, 2017 by
Illustration by Derek Joy

Anyone who went to dances or homecoming festivities at Creighton Prep, Marian, Duchesne Academy, Cathedral, or other Omaha high schools from late-1989 through the early ’90s probably bounced their head to the beat of a cover band called The March Hares. At the time, no one realized they were witnessing one of the most original talents ever to come out of Omaha.

Tim Kasher,  “like most ragged teenage guitar players,” had already been bitten by the underground bug when he and four Prep mates, including Matt Maginn and Matt Oberst, older brother of future indie singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, formed the group. They performed covers of bands like The Clash, The Cure, and R.E.M. in public, while playing original music in one another’s basements.

“It was a good little business,” recalls Kasher fondly, from his home in Los Angeles. “We found what got us most excited and, instead of baseball, it was music.”

tim-kasherMore than 25 years later, music still gets the indie rocker excited and “out of bed every morning.”  He’s writing and recording original songs for his current bands, Cursive and The Good Life. He’s also using his degree in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to write screenplays and, as always, testing the limits of his vocal cords.

“It’s definitely getting tougher to push the voice,” admits Kasher, 42, whose nasal and sometimes pitchy cries of anguish make his voice unmistakable. “I long to be 20 again, when I could scream as much as I wanted to. I can’t mistreat it now.”

Kasher will have to pace himself this spring when he goes on tour promoting a new solo album, his third. Titled No Resolution, the album comes out in March and, according to Kasher, features the lush sounds of strings, which he helped arrange.

True to form, Kasher wrote and directed a low-budget, feature-length film of the same name that uses all the songs from the album. “The film No Resolution is about a couple in their 30s who get engaged because she’s pregnant,” Kasher explains. “It’s set over New Year’s Eve, an appropriate backdrop to expose that the guy isn’t quite ready.”

Omahans saw an early edit of the film during the Omaha Film Festival last March. The final cut comes out this summer. Unlike many of his lyrics, the movie contains no autobiographical details. A happy and devoted Kasher married an editor at L.A. Weekly about one year ago. The couple live in the Silver Lake neighborhood, where they mingle with a sizeable group of Omaha transplants.
The musician’s private contentment hasn’t tempered his desire for professional independence. With the new year comes an announcement sure to send tremors through Omaha’s indie sphere: Kasher now has his own record label called 15 Passenger, a nod to an old touring van.

“The new album is on it. We also have all our master reels for Cursive, so we’re going to be releasing our back catalog, along with new stuff” he says. “We’re not planning on getting into the game of taking big gambles on new artists. Just self-releasing.”

What about Omaha-based Saddle Creek Records, the label formed and grown, in part, from Kasher’s talent? “Saddle Creek is alive and well. We’re just transitioning over.”

With a new album, new film, and a new record label, the beat goes on for Tim Kasher.

Visit timkasher.com for more information.

The Essential Good Life

November 12, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As we celebrate our descent into the great unknown with The Good Life’s recent Saddle Creek release Everybody’s Coming Down, let’s take a few moments of silence to highlight the band’s oeuvre, which has occupied our mixtapes, mix CDs, and mix playlists over the past 15 years.

The Good Life, which was once thought of as the other woman, or Cursive frontman Tim Kasher’s side project, established itself in the early 2000s after the additions of Stefanie Drootin (Big Harp), Ryan Fox, and Roger Lewis. To date, the band has released five full-length studio albums and one EP.

The Perfect Beginning: Despite coming  out nearly two years after Novena on a Nocturn, 2002’s Black Out is the first real Good Life album. It’s where the band’s lineup solidified. And it’s where the band’s sound began to modulate from Cursive B-sides to the woebegone Americana that would eventually become the quartet’s identity.

True to its title, Black Out’s 14-track drunk is Kasher’s drinking-to-forget album, spiked with too much autobiographical heartbreak to be disguised as fiction. Throughout the experience, the singer-songwriter finds he’s too intoxicated to navigate the Kübler-Ross stages of grief, as his lyrics skirt acceptance and bargain to no end. The manic-depressive cut “Don’t Make Love So Hard” perhaps most embodies this emotional stumbling (and quite possibly provides the biggest payoff of any Good Life song starting around 3:45).

Lovers Need Lawyers: One’s instantly drawn to the nostalgia-inducing “Leaving Omaha,” but it’s perhaps the final track, “For the Love of the Song,” that is the hero (or antihero) of this 2004 extended-play prequel to Album of the Year. The six-minute confessional reminds the listener that Kasher is still drunk and that the then-30-year-old still finds art hard.

Wolves in Second-Hand Clothing: The majesty of  The Good Life’s 2004 magnum opus Album of the Year—mostly agreed upon as the band’s best album of any year—is not in the congestion of sonic embellishments used in past performances, but in its breathability. At its core, this is a collection of campfire songs for which producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) provides the crackling wood, the clicking flashlights, and the zipping tents that give the narrative its irresistible atmosphere.

The album itself is about a year (a punny double entendre not lost on the record’s artwork) that recounts a dissolving relationship in 12 tracks, from April to March. Kasher again, like John Fante or Charles Bukowski, both of whom he mentions in the title track, writes about what he knows best: heartache and art-break. For an optimal performance, experience it in its entirety.

Help Wanted Nights: It’s the album that might’ve made the perfect soundtrack for the screenplay Kasher wrote with the same title. Instead, the band’s 2007 LP is the perfect soundtrack for the “big ideas” Kasher says he neglected in previous narratives. The minimalistic and oft-optimistic songs have an AA meeting air about them, minus the 11th and 12th steps. Just substitute the coffee back to booze. “Heartbroke,” an obvious nod to The Police, is a solid gateway track.

Tim’s Pick: In keeping with the spirit of looking back, I asked Kasher to highlight The Good Life’s catalogue with one song that most defines the band. It’s ironic but perhaps fitting that the self-described cynic chose to stay in the present with “The Troubadour’s Green Room,” from his newest release. After all, that’s kind of what the song, in combination with its co-conspirators, is all about: not taking the present for granted.

“It’s also a representation of how completely odd it is to write and perform music as one’s passion while also attempting to balance it as a commodity,” he says. “I feel as though I love and loathe it in equal measure—perhaps that’s the balance?”  Encounter

Visit thegoodlifemusic.com to learn more.