An indie rock act out of Omaha, the Good Life hasn’t put out a new studio album in eight years. The group has just broken the dry spell with Everybody’s Coming Down
, a terrific collection of the type of off-kilter songs that made Pavement famous. It’s been a long, strange trip for singer-guitarist Tim Kasher, who grew up on British pop before embracing “your morose coffeeshop folksinger stuff.”
“As I got a little older and started getting into Fugazi and Superchunk, I started playing more and writing more band-driven stuff,” he says via phone from his Omaha home when asked about his initial interest in music.
That “stuff” would become Cursive, an emo band cut from the same musical cloth as fellow Omahians Bright Eyes. In 2000, when he started writing songs that didn’t quite fit the Cursive mold, Kasher formed the Good Life, taking the name from the old state slogan for Nebraska, as another outlet for his songwriting.
The Good Life issued four albums but then went dormant (aside from some 2010 dates) after the release of 2007’s Help Wanted Nights
. It’s now been eight years since the band’s last studio effort.
“We thought about doing this album about a year and a half ago,” says Kasher. “I put out a couple of Cursive albums and a couple of solo albums. [Bassist] Stefanie [Drootin] started raising a family and she and her husband started Big Harp. They’re on tour with us as well. We all live in different cities. We’re all good friends so it’s nice to get back together and do this again. It was a matter of clearing out our schedules and making time to do it. I kept thinking I should do another Good Life record. I kept doing the solo records and I had to pull the reigns back on that for a moment and do this Good Life record.”
The new album rocks a little harder than previous efforts but Kasher says that wasn’t necessarily the intent.
“It’s a different style,” he says. “Now that I have put out solo records, that’s the softer and more personal stuff. It made sense to the whole band that it should be the members of the band doing this. We just set out to make sure we put our stamp on it. The reality of it is that it’s more of a rock band. We’re excited about the album in that regard.”
It takes on some big themes — according to the official band bio, the songs on the album “pose cosmic queries, contemplate regrets and question self-worth and the power of memory vs. experience.”
“The title Everybody’s Coming Down
comes from something I try to keep loosely tethered through the album — namely, the dilemma about how we experience the present,” he says. “We’re always reflecting on or reacting to or thinking about something from the past or working toward something in the future. It’s like dilemma about whether we ever live in the moment and whether we are ever in the moment. Do we really know how to do that? A lot of it was based on the fact that we get so excited about a given thing and then it’s gone. It’s an analogy for life. I think it’s a bit obnoxious but one of the obvious experiences that is analogous to it is the experience is orgasm. We’re driven by this need to release that and it happens so fast and then it’s done.”
The heavy guitars in a song like “Everybody” even recall the grungier side of Neil Young.
“That is, like many of the songs on the album, a good example of Ryan Fox on guitar,” says Kasher. “He left a large impression on the album. It’s the fault of his years of playing. He was mastering the art of guitar tones. He’s become a great guitar player. It’s nice. I’m completely aligned with their tastes. That’s what makes you comfortable in a band. That’s why bands break up or why people get fired. The chords are straightforward. I think some of the best songs are the ones that are really simple and make that impact in their simple state. They don’t have to be that complicated.”
Kasher anticipates the current tour in support of the new album suggests the group will be more active from this point forward.
“That would be the hope,” Kasher says when asked about the reboot of the band. “We want to keep touring throughout the year and try to keep this going.”
The Good Life, Big Harp, Coma Serfs, 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21, Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216-321-5588. Tickets: $13 ADV, $15 DOS, grogshop.gs.