Friday, September 22, 2006

Interviews:: Mike Kinsella of Owen

We recently had the chance to ask Mike Kinsella about his latest release - At Home With - under the Owen moniker. Aside from really loving this record, Mike has been a part of some great bands, so it was a treat to pick his brain.

Check out the first track on the new album - MP3:: Bad News

HH:: The production on this record really shows a change from the trademark bedroom style recordings of the other Owen records. Based on the personal subject matter you tend to sing about and the distinct change of approach in your music you made after American Football parted ways, was it hard to give up the complete control and take input from Nate and Brian?
MK:: Yeah, it was a little awkward at first to ask for someone elses input and sing such sappy songs in front of people and expect someone else to care about the little details of something that's so personal to me, but both Nate and Brian are super laid back and easy to work with, and really tasteful. Basically I'd say "i want this guitar part to sound like 1990 brit pop" and they'd figure out a way to make that happen. or they'd have an idea for an arrangement and bring it up and usually it was way better than what I was thinking. I guess it could have sucked with the wrong people, but I think I lucked out and got the right ones.

HH:: You've been a part of some of the most underrated bands that helped form the Chicago Indie scene, bands that needed to tour relentlessly to make a name. Being a fan of your older work, I know that the bands you've been a part of exist to a group of fans that love your work, but the majority of casual music fans don't get the chance to hear. How different has the Internet made the process of getting your music out to fans?
MK:: Well, I've got way more myspace friends than all the "real" friends I've ever made in my entire life - which is pretty cool, but also kind of weird. I guess it's great for promotion and all. It just seems like now everyone is in a band or is putting out solo records and they all want to promote themselves and it's sort of...gross. too much to sift through. everything's watered down. I remember going to the record store and seeking out bootleg Iron Maiden albums and rare KISS imports and it was truly exciting to find them, but now everything's at our disposal on the computer and we take what we want and we take it all for granted. so i guess it's nice to that my stuff is out there to be heard, but i also feel like i'm being taken for granted a little.

HH:: A lot of your music has been made with a revolving cast of friends and family. How does your working relationships with these people affect your personal relationships?
MK:: It just sort of happens naturally, and it's usually pretty comfortable. It's not like we're all accountants and we're asking our friends to help us with our taxes, you know? everyone's usually interested in working on other people's projects (to varying extents). Like when Tim decides to record new Joan of Arc stuff every couple years it's exciting for me to be able to take on a different role in the band each time. Pick up the bass or hit some drums.

HH:: The beautiful cover of Femme Fatale caught me off guard on the first listen of the record. What other things inspire you creatively?
MK:: People i know, love, envy, dislike, hurt, observe, eat with, drink with, play with, sit next to on the train. people who drink by themselves in bars, go to matinee movies by themselves during the week, go to owen shows in other cities.

HH:: You are one of the few acoustic-based solo artists that has made a successful transition from a more hectic, punk rock style without losing your credibility with fans of your former bands. I really think that has to do with the sincerity and honesty of your songs. Starting out, did you have a goal for this project? And I guess, does that goal still hold true today?
MK:: I didn't/don't have any goals really. I suppose I always want to write stuff that I like, that interests me. i've been doing this way too long with way too little success to even think about "making it" in the "business". it's
sort of just what i do, and every few months i go and do it in front of other people.

HH:: Thanks again for taking the time to do this.
MK:: Sure. thank you.

Posted at 3:56 PM by ack :: 3 comments

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At 9:31 PM, Anonymous David Yules did sayeth:

I would consider his lack of success in mainstream music to be his attitude. I feel like his lack of confidence in himself as a musician has affected his image negatively, to the point where after this album, I feel like he's even hit his peak of popularity. This is definitely not to say that he cannot make it any more than he has thus far, his skill as a musician makes me want to vomit at what I hear in popular music, and I think the world would be a better place in influence of his character and ideas.

Anyway Mike, you're a great mentor. Dig deep inside yourself, and don't care about what other people think. We like you for you.

Also I apologize if any of this is incorrect, because basically, I know nothing about you as a person Mike, this is just what I have to say about what I do know.


At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Tommy O. did sayeth:

Well I am a long time listener of you Mike, even when you were still just coming out. I have always loved your music and enjoyed your lyrics on such a personal level. Although I hope the best for you and your "band", I almost am selfish about how I listen to you. I am in fear that one day you'll hit the radio, and everyone will be singing "Bad News", and relating it to their "Barbie-doll" life style, and that is not at all what you stand for. I hope you stay as big as you are and also keep doing what you are doing, I'd hate to wake up one day and hear the distinct sound of pop music come out of a new album of yours.

On a side note, for Christmas my soon to be wife decided to by me a record player, and along with it all of your albums on vinyl. Needless to say it brought me to tears. I wept like a little girl.

Thank you very much for inspiring me to write and be as good of a guy as I can.


At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Trevor did sayeth:

Mike can do whatever he wants. If he wants to play it low-key, he can sell a few records. But maybe, he wants to go big. Mike Kin Sell A lot of records


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