Owen (Mike Kinsella) is one of the most well known indie musicians in Chicago. He has been active since his highschool days with bands like American Football, Cap’ n Jazz, Joan of Arc and many more. His (amazing) new record “L’ Ami Du Peuple” is being released by Polyvinyl Records and he was kind enough to answer some questions about his past and his new LP.
1) You have been around for many years, making music with projects such as Joan of Arc, Cap n Jazz, American Football, your personal project Owen and many more. How does it feel being where you are now, almost 20 years later still making music?
Honestly, most of it feels like a different lifetime. Or like it was all just a movie I watched. It all feels both forever ago and just like yesterday. As far as the music, I can’t really relate to most of it anymore so I rarely go back and listen to much of it, but it’s been a great way to travel and meet people since I was in high school. I’m feel so lucky and happy to have had so many good times/memories through music.
2) Your old band American Football is considered being something like a “hidden treasure” by many music fans. Having released just an album and an E.P. you managed to gain appreciation by a lot of people. Many young fans still discover and love American Football. Could you please tell us a few of things from back then? What it meant for you writing songs like “Never Meant” and playing underground shows back in the 90’s?
Yeah, it’s weird. We only played about a dozen shows total when we were a band (and most of those were in classrooms and living rooms around our college.) But I think those songs have a certain youthfulness that continues to resonate with kids. Like I said, I can’t relate much to those songs anymore but it’s super cool kids continue to find it and appreciate it.
3) Your new album “L'ami du Peuble” is your seventh one and finds you recording songs with much more instrumentation than your previous ones. It feels like you took “Ghost Town” one step further. Was that something you intented to do, or the songs just “drove” you there?
I didn’t necessarily go into the recording trying to do something different but I did consciously let the songs develop individually as opposed to trying to make them sound like “Owen” songs. So the rock songs rock more and the stripped down ones are more sparse/spontaneous.
4) You make many literature references in your songs. Which are your top 5 favourite books of all time?
Anything Raymond Carver.
5) Many things have been said about the genre called emo. Bands like American Football, Braid, The Jealous Sound, Brandtson and many more were considered being post hardcore/emo. Then the music industry came and named all those pop rock bands under the same name. What is your opinion? How did that make you feel?
I’m too busy changing diapers and trying to teach my kids how to be compassionate, moral beings to worry about how other people want to label things. It’s all just music and they’re all just love songs.