Analogue Music | Tim Kasher

Tim Kasher

By Matt Conner

Slowing down wasn't part of Tim Kasher's playbook.

Tim Kasher, the longtime frontman for Cursive and The Good Life, has built up a sizable catalog of releases over the years whether in bands or working on his own. While fans would point to Kasher's obvious creative talents, he's also clear that he keeps such a prolific pace because it's for his own good. Mentally, he's trying to outrun a few voices.

That's what made the COVID-19 pandemic such a creative challenge for Kasher. For the first time in 25 years, it wasn't business-as-usual. Tours were cancelled. Releases were postponed. No one knew what moves to make in such a confusing, clouded atmosphere, and that included Kasher, who shelved a solo record for the first time.

The good news is that Kasher was able to overcome the voices that try to convince him that his art isn't worth releasing. In fact, the extra time allowed him to hone the songs on Middling Age more than ever. The end result is a strong yet vulnerable record that proves Kasher's creative voice is the only one with substance in this picture.

Analogue: This whole record is steeped in middle age and you're in the life stage. Is this record a bit of a response to the work you've done in the past?

Tim Kasher: As far as my mindset is concerned, this might kind of seem inauthentic that I can step outside of myself and mention this, but I tend to stay fairly oblivious to these kinds of thoughts. I guess I mostly prefer it that way. It’s just better for me to not dwell on things like that. So my mindset is simply about the next record.

"You have to allow yourself to be judged and discriminated and hopefully, also you’ll find bits of praise and appreciation in fits and starts as well."

I was going to say that I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it in context with my prior work, but that’s not true at all. Certain anxieties can settle in as I’m aware that the longer I’m in this industry, the more of an uphill battle it can be. So I’m aware of those types of things, but how much it affects my writing, I’m not really sure. It’s also something I don’t dwell on a lot.

But one thing I can offer you is that I am absolutely aware of the difficulties of any sort of relevance at all in this industry, especially if you’re some chump in his late forties who’s still asking for people’s attention after 25 years. [Laughs]

Analogue: Well, I can understand because I’ve been on this side for almost as long myself, so that prompts some interest there for me on your end. Does the creative side feel the same way after all this time?

Tim: I think it does. It almost feels exactly the same in that it’s exciting for me but more than exciting, it’s super scary. But that fear is just really important. I don’t crave it at all in the least but I think it’s important to me as someone undertaking these creative endeavors. You have to throw yourself out there. You have to allow yourself to be judged and discriminated and hopefully, also you’ll find bits of praise and appreciation in fits and starts as well. It’s all part of it.

One thing that feels unique about this record relative to any of my others is this pandemic. It stalled out, so that’s something unique I’m going through right now. It’s something I’ve sat on for a little while and had to set it aside, which makes me so happy to finally be releasing it. But it’s different because of that. For me, it’s a bit of a weathered record in my head.

Analogue: How much of the makeup of the record changed in that course of time or did it sit static on the shelf?

Tim: No, I continued to work on it, which was a blessing. It was nice. I shelved it at one point, but as the pandemic continued to stretch itself out, I turned back to it a couple of times. I was writing for it and seeing if I could outdo the songs I already had. I hope that’s of great benefit to the record is that it had a longer writing gestation period than anything I’ve done before. I don’t assume that would make it a better record, but it would sure be cool if it did. [Laughs]

But I have no assumptions about that whatsoever. Instead, I would say that I’m suffering right now—and this is me being a little personal with my experiences right now and this is also a long-winded way of answering the questions you’re asking—is that I had to sit with this record long enough that all of these demons of low self-esteem really settled in. It was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re releasing this record now. Nobody wants to hear it.’ I struggle with boxing those voices out.

Analogue: Is that true on every album or was it something in particular on this one?

Tim: No, it’s specifically to this because of the pandemic. I had to sit with it for so long that all of those uglier voices of self-deprecation really reared their heads.

Middling Age
Middling Age

Analogue: So the inference seems like you’re normally busy enough to keep those at bay.

Tim: Yes, that’s a great way to put it and I think that’s absolutely what it is. People like to ask me, and I take it as a kind compliment, about how I stay so busy or they’ll say I’m prolific or whatnot. So much of it is really just that I’m racing to stay ahead of those voices. For me, when I become stagnant, I become utterly depressed and have to stay on the hamster wheel so to speak.

Analogue: Back to the gestation period, does that mean the cutting room floor is pretty messy?

Tim: I have a lot of songs on every cutting room floor for a record, but this one might have even more. I was just able to keep plugging away at it. I think I could probably release three more records from this batch of songs, but I don’t know how good they would be, to be honest.

Analogue: Would you ever allow those to come out?

Tim: I’m still the final editor on that stuff, and I don’t let everything go out. I’m actually going through that process right now. One of the things I started during the pandemic was a Patreon page, so I’ve been slowly releasing music from the past 25 years. Some stuff is new and some stuff is old. Yet even when I work on that, I respect the listeners on that site and I want to respect the work enough to consider what I’m putting on there. I don’t want to just put out trash and say, ‘Hey, here’s some trash I didn’t want anyone to hear!’ They’re still getting the best of the b-sides that just didn’t get a chance to make it.

Analogue: Has that been a good move for you to allow the fans in like that?

Tim: It has. It’s something I’d been pondering since I’ve been sitting on so much stuff for years. The pandemic just pushed me into it, but even then, it took me until the second year of it to start. An M.O. ever since we started Cursive back in ’95 is that we don’t want to make decisions for financial gain. That’s the crazy gamble of a lot of industries, so it took me a long time to envision a type of Patreon page where I want to believe I’m getting as much out of it as the listener it. I hope it’s a good reciprocation. I wouldn’t do it for money, I guess. Maybe that sounds like fucking bullshit, but that really is the way I am. [Laughs]

VISIT: Tim Kasher