We had the pleasure of chatting with Kasey Anderson about his influences, sources of inspiration, and new album Nowhere Nights. Check it out below!
If you had to describe your sound in 3 words, what would they be?
Kasey Anderson: Not Kenny Chesney.
Do you have any musical artists that have been major influences?
Kasey Anderson: I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Bruce Springsteen and Stax Records stuff. All of that stuck pretty well.
You have mentioned that one of your influences is Bob Dylan, can you tell me your favorite Dylan song?
Kasey Anderson: That’s too tough to pin down. It changes daily. I can always go back to “Visions of Johanna” and find something new.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue music?
Kasey Anderson: I think I figured out around the time I was 12 that there wasn’t much else I wanted to do. This has been what I wanted to do for as long as I’ve understood the concept of wanting to do something.
How do you think the atmosphere of Portland has influenced you musically?
Kasey Anderson: I think the great thing about art is that you can create it anywhere. I made a record of cover tunes on my laptop in hotel rooms throughout Europe last year and it is still very much a “Kasey Anderson” record.
That said, Portland has influenced me in that it is very much where I feel most “at home” in the world. I grew up there. My family is there, my closest friends are there; my favorite bookstore, record store and coffee joint are there. Portland changed a lot during the eight years I lived in Bellingham but, every time I went back, it always felt like home.
Is there a particular place, person, idea where you get the inspiration for your songs?
Kasey Anderson: It depends on the song. “I Was A Photograph” was written for and about James Blake Miller, who has been an inspiration to me in every sense of the word. Blake’s face was on the cover of every news publication in America in 2001 as “the face of the War in Iraq.” Four years later – to the day – he had been dishonorably discharged from the marines for attacking his commanding officer, and was living in a trailer behind his father’s house. People don’t understand that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be every bit as debilitating and painful than the physical injuries these men and women suffer in combat.
Inspiration is everywhere – film, television, newspapers, novels, overheard conversations, whatever you can tap into. It’s out there, and I’ve been at this long enough to know that it won’t always just come to me; sometimes I have to go get it.
When you’re not working on music, what are your favorite things to do? Any must see television series?
Kasey Anderson: I read a lot, always have. I grew up in a home where we were not allowed to get rid of books, so I’m trying to make the transition to Kindle, as it’s easier to travel with than a stack of books, and I grew up 15 miles from a paper mill so I’ll take any chance I get to reduce the amount of paper I purchase.
I spent the last year in Europe, so I’m pretty far behind on television – I missed Jon and Kate in its entirety, the rise and fall. For me, The Wire is the high water mark in television. I don’t know how anyone would use the medium any more effectively.
You mention on your blog that “home” became a central theme in Nowhere Nights, what would you like your listeners to understand about what “home” means to you, as a place or state of mind?
Kasey Anderson: I wanted the record to make it clear that my sense of “home” had more to do with who I was than where I was. I think that phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are,” is sort of asinine, but this record is about understanding that you influence your surroundings every bit as much as they influence you.
How do you think your new album, Nowhere Nights, differs from your previous albums? Do you think you have grown musically?
Kasey Anderson: It is very much a “band” record, where the previous two (Dead Roses and The Reckoning) were “solo” records that happened to include a backing band. Everybody who played on this record contributed to the arrangements in some way. I wanted this record to sound like five guys in the same room, and that’s exactly how it sounds because that’s exactly what it is.
Yeah, I think I’ve grown. I would be doing something wrong if I hadn’t.
You have been called “A literate, working-man’s poet.” (Paste), would you consider yourself foremost a poet or storyteller?
Kasey Anderson: Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen are the only songwriters who I consider “poets”. Steve Earle would be in there too, now that I’m making a list. But it would be a short list. I like the word “literate” in that quote because it means whoever said that was paying attention and probably picking up some of the references in there. If they’re listening that closely, they can call me whatever they like.
How do you begin writing your songs? What is your process?
Kasey Anderson: I don’t really have a set-in-stone process or formula. Sometimes the melody is there and I have to chase down the lyrics. Sometimes, the song is there and I have to make the melody fit. “I Was A Photograph” was that way. What I’ve learned so far about songwriting is that I can’t force a song. If I try to do that, it’s hollow, and people know a hollow song when they hear it. It’s the song they stop listening to and forget about. I’d prefer not to write those kinds of songs.
Interview By: Lauren Wiginton
Official Kasey Anderson Site: http://www.kaseyanderson.com/