Tim Kasher ends “Adult Film” tour at the Triple Rock

Tim Kasher gives A&E his take on songwriting, his new solo record and being the youngest in a huge family.

Tim Kasher pens literary pop rock with a wink and a bite.

John Sturdy

Tim Kasher pens literary pop rock with a wink and a bite.

Joe Kellen

The cover of Tim Kasher’s newest record, “Adult Film,” is disgusting. His eyes are hidden by the title of the album, and he’s covered with some sort of glazy, dirty mixture. His hair is slicked back by the hopefully artificial ooze.

This style isn’t new to Kasher. As the spearhead of underground thrashers Cursive and folksy story spinners The Good Life, Kasher has released records called “Mama, I’m Swollen” and written songs about death and sex with a twinkle in his eye.

Of course, Kasher’s not all about being gross. He usually gets attention for his clever, literary lyrics and expansive concept albums. His candid nature benefits his storytelling. A&E got a taste of that by catching up with him as he finishes touring for this record.

 

It seems to me that Adult Film is more about the realities of adulthood rather than pornography …

(Laughs)

But I was curious: What do you think they have in common?

Um … nothing, really! I think it’s just a play on words. Those two words, “adult” and “film,” got placed together probably 35 years ago, if not longer ago, and it came to mean another thing. I considered the term about half a year ago, and it occurred to me that if you kind of deconstruct what “adult film” is, it doesn’t have to be about that at all. Instead, it’s this kind of filminess that we collect as we age.

Yeah, I got that sense on the record. There’s a lot of stuff about death. I think it’s pretty clear that you’re fascinated by that, as we all are, in a way.

Yeah, I think we all are. You’re right. I agree. I think I’ve become more fascinated with it as I’ve gotten older. I’m starting to deal with things that are more finite, rather than the infinite.

Based on a record like “Happy Hollow,” I can imagine that the idea of an afterlife doesn’t really jive with you.

Yeah, I guess that I really need to get over the frustration and maybe the panic life has blessed me with over the past few years. I mean, it’s absurd. I’m not even quite 40 yet, but I’ve already started thinking that I have to be really careful about what I plan next.

I feel like some of the music you’ve put out gets this rap for being like “gloomy” or something. But what’s nice about this record is that — what’s the last line? Isn’t it that you “don’t regret the honey or the sting” of life?

Yeah! It definitely had to do with a sense of optimism. Over 20 years, I’ve kind of ended albums with a question mark and sometimes with a pretty bleak outlook. Others have been more uplifting or, I guess, positive. It just kind of turned out that, for as dark and obsessed as this record was getting, I wanted to at least have the last period be some type of optimism. I’m not really a negative person, you know?

Tell me a little bit about what’s fascinating to you about combining narrative with music. I know you didn’t want to be pegged as “the concept album guy,” but I know it’s something you really like to do. What draws you to it?

I just like putting the extra effort in to make something fully cohesive, you know. If you choose to have an immersive listening experience, you can — it’s there! You can sit with the lyrics sheet, and there’s a lot more you can unravel. I think that’s great.

Do you feel like more of a writer or a musician? Or some kind of hybrid animal?

I dunno. I’m definitely both, but I consider myself a writer more, but that goes for songwriting. I feel like I’ve managed this dubious extended stay in music because I have more of a capability in songwriting. My musicianship’s not really all that great. Not really my forte. (Laughs)

What sort of characters are you attracted to as a writer?

The stuff I like to read the most I think is always character studies. I think the study of us as human beings and how we relate to each other and communicate is in the wheelhouse of what I like to do.

You write a lot about family, and I know you have a big family. Are those relationships inspired by your family?

I think probably inevitably so. I don’t really think about it in those terms all that much. I almost never consider my family when I’m thinking about what to write, but I think as a result of having so much family, that sort of stuff comes up more often than I realize.

How have they influenced you as a person making art?

That’s probably a bigger question I’d have to think about. As the youngest in the family, I had a lot of delusions that the Kasher family was a very wildly successful, famous people, when we really were nothing. It was just that my older brothers and sisters were really popular in school, so I thought that that meant they were the coolest people on the planet. (Laughs) But that must’ve done something. If nothing else, it probably instilled some sort of confidence in me.

This is kind of an unfair question, but, if I gave you total funding to make any project that you wanted to, what do you think you would do?

Actually, I think that’s kind of an easy question. I’d probably just put it into a film because they’re so expensive. I mean, a lot of stuff, you know. I can do another album. I can fund my own album. I’d put it into a film, or maybe I’d do a huge Broadway musical. Something very expensive that would be a blast to do but I don’t have money for.

You’re into the theatrical?

In something that’s that grand of a statement? Yeah, that’d be a blast! It’d be so huge.

 

What: Tim Kasher with Laura Stevenson
When: 9 p.m., Saturday
Where: Triple Rock Social Club, 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
Cost: $13-15