The pandemic meant that Tim Kasher never set foot in a proper recording studio for his fourth solo effort, Middle age.
“Most studios have been closed,” he says. “And if the studios weren’t closed, then you had to know someone who was doing it under the radar. So I just worked with musicians who just do their own thing.
Kasher, raised in Omaha and based in Los Angeles, wraps up his current tour, what he describes as a quick loop across the country, at Summit Music Hall on Tuesday, May 31.
Kasher has assembled a great set of musicians to work with remotely to Middle age. Jayson Gerycz of Cleveland-based indie rock band Cloud Nothings recorded the drum tracks; Laura Jane Grace of Against Me provided a verse on “Forever Of The Living Dead”; and members of one of Kosher’s other bands, Cursive, offered trumpet and cello. His nine-year-old niece also appears on the record.
The cast is extensive and it is a method of recording imposed by necessity. Kasher hopes to never have to record this way again.
“You can get away with it because of the evolution of ProTools and everyone’s equipment,” he says. “But it’s not something I would want to do in the future. I would really like to go back to the studio for the next album.
He says the words of Middle age were written before or at the start of the pandemic. This crossover made him realize how quickly the pandemic had had an effect on him.
“We all know it was one of the most abrupt changes we’ve had in our life or our life experiences,” he says, “to suddenly be in a real lockdown. Songs like “Forever of the Living Dead” and “100 Ways to Paint a Bowl of Limes” were written in the months after the pandemic began. »
Kasher says that when he writes he tries to convey an honest view of his life experiences. That’s why he chose the title Middle age for recording. The album tackles a variety of topics, including “the fear of losing loved ones, feelings of personal stagnation and uncertainty, radical self-assessments and a sense of relentless worry,” he says.
It’s a record with meticulously crafted instrumentals and literary, uplifting lyrics that are fused together by a faint sense of sadness lurking beneath the surface. Despite its touch of melancholy, the songs have a certain whimsy to them, and the album never gets too heavy or takes itself too seriously.
“I felt a lot of the record was about feeling some stagnation about being in your 40s and not knowing what’s next, and feeling the weight of mortality,” he says. “With each decade, we feel the heavier burden of mortality.”
Kasher adds that a song like “What Are We Doing” is less about mortality and more about the strangeness of living in a first-world society like the United States. The lyrics paint a picture of the collective shrug as we recognize how messed up the country really is, but fail to come up with answers on how to improve anything.
“Even the most progressive liberal people still buy from Target,” says Kasher. “Just continue to reap the benefits of this society when there is so much inequality. It’s amazing. And even the song is kind of a shrug, isn’t it? It’s just like, I’m pointing it out, but this song isn’t going to move the needle or change anything.
Kasher considers “You Don’t Gotta Beat Yourself Up” the most personal song on the record, and for a while he considered making it the opener and calling the record “Life’s Work”.
“I was going to kind of frame everything around this song,” he says. “As new songs were written, everything kept changing. I ended up putting that song on the album and giving it a different title.
He says the lyrics are based on trying to answer the questions he asked himself: “Who am I? What is my plan in this life?”
“I also kind of mixed in my white American citizen guilt that I have about us stealing from this country that was indigenous land,” he says. “We broke in and we continue to imperialize and colonize in one way or another even though it was as obvious as it was 300 years ago.”
He says touring again when the live music resumed was new at first, but he feels like he’s on the move again. Kasher adds that for some musicians playing live is paramount, but he likes to balance that with working in the studio. But he missed gigs and learned not to take them for granted.
“It’s nice to have contact with people,” he says. “I’ve mostly avoided doing live streams, but I’ve done live streams and I actually tended to feel more nervous doing them, because it’s so weird. You’re alone in a piece, but you connect to people, I guess. Kind of. I’m not ready for that.
Tim Kasher, Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street, Tuesday, May 31, 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available at ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit timkasher.com.