Published Jan 01, 2006Speaking with Tim Kinsella is an eye-opening experience. A self-proclaimed "sloppy pot head" and occasional bartender at a run-of-the-mill pub in Chicago, it only takes a few minutes of conversation to prove he's just your average guy. One might expect a very different persona from the main man behind art-house slackers Joan of Arc (not to mention countless other projects), but the pretentious ramblings that Kinsella has built his lyrical style on are nowhere to be found in conversation.
Since his days fronting seminal math-punk outfit Cap'N Jazz during the mid-90s, Kinsella has managed to shrug off most of the cult success he's enjoyed, modestly passing the praise to the group of friends that have performed with him along the way. Kinsella has worked with the same close-knit cast of musicians throughout his career, unsure whether their friendship is a product of playing together or performing together a product of their friendship.
"All I know is that I don't really have any other friends," he explains. "I don't really have any other interests. If I'm awake, I'm probably playing music. It's all I do."
He may hesitate to take credit, but it's easy to peg that prolific nature as the real reason the Kinsella name has gained notoriety. With a personal discography that spans nearly 20 releases, Kinsella's stream-of-consciousness writing style and purposely out-of-tune vocal drawl have become an instantly recognisable style.
Taking the more tangible elements of jazz, the drunken aesthetic of early American folk music and the reckless tendencies of punk rock, Kinsella and company have developed a signature sound that runs through almost every project they touch. Whether it's the Owls' perfectly calculated approach or Friend/Enemy's scattered train-wreck technique, it all comes out sounding Kinsella. While this aesthetic may be permanently etched in their music, he says there's still a need to keep things fresh, if for nothing else than sanity's sake.
"We're trying to confound ourselves everyday. Maybe it doesn't come across that way from an audience perspective, but we do a good job of keeping ourselves interested. It might all come across as one long song for all I know but we definitely try to break that up by consistently bringing out new ideas."
So many new ideas, in fact, that Kinsella can barely keep up with the volume of work he and his friends have been churning out lately. Back at work under the Joan of Arc moniker for the first time in over two years, the band has recently completed not one, but two new records to be released in the coming months. So Much Staying Alive and Lovelessness, Joan of Arc's sixth and best full-length to date, has just been issued by Jade Tree Records, while another album awaits its release on Perishable Records.
"We were originally doing a Friend/Enemy record at the same time but it all got swallowed into the two Joan Of Arc records. Funny thing is, we didn't even really plan on making a Joan of Arc record. Sam [Zurick, Kinsella's right hand man] and I both had these songs we wanted to record so we just did it. They just kept piling up and piling up and we ended up with so much material that it turned into these two albums. It was just sort of like, Why not call it Joan of Arc?'"
And while it's uncertain what kind of project Kinsella will stir up next, its pretty much guaranteed that we'll be hearing from him soon. When you're a prolific being at heart, it doesn't take too long before the urge to produce creeps up on you again.
"I always get really depressed once a record is done. It's a long weird cycle. There's no way to know if it's right or wrong, good enough or not good enough, so I just keep making records. That way, I don't dwell on the little details."