5 bloggers, 5 questions, 1 band, hand-picked by the MWA writers. Welcome to FIVE x FIVE. This week: the solo project of Jonathan Visger, Absofacto.
Having released three Absofacto EPs, North South Pt. I, Trilobite Trash, and Tagalong, Visger is currently adding to his growing collection of singles called [Loners]. Absofacto’s tunes are full of catchy hooks and melodic pop sensibilities. Jonathan took a second to chat with Midwest Action for an Absofacto edition of FIVE x FIVE.
Last spring, you ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the physical release of your debut album, Sinking Islands. How was your experience with crowd-funding and would you look to it in the future to fund other releases? | Eric Slager
My part of the experience felt very unnatural to me at first. It’s like when public radio has their fundraising going on, and by its very nature it becomes repetitious and more-or-less a sales pitch. There’s no way around that aspect. I resolved not to push too hard or be too much of a broken record, and accepted going in that it just might not work. It seemed like a huge amount of money to me. The flip side came when people contributed extremely generously to it, and I blew far past the amount I was trying to raise, without even doing more than reminding twitter and facebook a couple times throughout the month. I had never realized that I had that level of support before that point. The most stressful part was by far getting all the rewards together and shipped out! I did most of it myself and it took forever. Days and days.
I hope not to do it again because it was really stressful and I don’t like having to do “the pitch,” but in reality things like releasing high-quality vinyl is probably beyond my means without it.
What difficulties do you face as a solo musician? Do you work better as an independent musician or do you just work differently? | Dan Jarvis
Being a true solo musician is self-limiting if your style doesn’t translate to one-man live shows (mine currently doesn’t). It means you can only be a studio artist without adding more people, and once you start adding more people you quickly just aren’t a solo artist anymore. My true love will always be steering the ship on songwriting and production simultaneously. Hearing all the elements come together in a really specific way is my favorite thing in the world. I do love bringing in guest musicians though. I haven’t done a lot of it, but getting someone else’s influence on it can really take things to a magical place.
Concerning your [Loners] collection on Bandcamp, do you meditate on songs after they’re officially “loners” or do you upload them and move on? | Alyssa Welch
I try to get them out there and move on. I find it easier to make a lot of great songs if you don’t always worry about how they fit into a whole album, and that’s pretty compatible with the way people listen to music now anyway. Most of the songs I write are loners at heart, isolated bursts of creativity that hit just at the right moment when I have time to actually see them through. A lot of good ideas of mine go undeveloped just because they come at a time when I’m too busy to work on them. It’s really too bad!
You currently don’t play live shows, but are there plans to change that? What elements do you think you would need to have available to you to put on an “experimental pop” show besides just yourself? | Patrick David
I’ve always wanted to find a good way to do Absofacto live, but it’s hard to find a way that feels like it’s in the spirit of the project. A lot of the songs are their own world, and feel like they’d almost require a different band arrangement from song to song. In reality, if I could afford to pull together a great drummer, bassist that could also play keys, guitarist that could also play keys, and everybody could also sing, then it could work and feel right. In reality if it’s ever going to happen it’s going to be because I made an album in a style that can work with a more limited arrangement of people, and we’d probably just adapt any old “hits” (using the term loosely!) to the new style. The live show would have to be its own thing.
You’ve been in (and worked with) quite a few bands over the years: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Mason Proper, Hollow & Akimbo… Care to expand on these experiences at all? What did these groups offer to you that working independently did not? | Dan Fiorio
I’m still playing with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., and Hollow & Akimbo is just about to start doing some live shows at the end of the year. Mason Proper is no more, but the spirit of it sort of split in two, and half went into Absofacto and half went into Hollow & Akimbo.
Jr. Jr. is a really interesting experience for me because it’s the only time I’ve ever been in a band where I wasn’t one of the main creative forces. It’s also much more well-known than anything else I’ve been involved with. I’ve gotten to be exposed to a whole different level of the music world than I’d ever seen before: big venues, big crowds, television performances, etc. All the guys involved in that band are obscenely talented and smart, and it’s really inspiring to be around.
For me, Hollow & Akimbo is all about exploring this certain gritty texture and mood that my bandmate Brian Konicek and I have cultivated together behind closed doors for a long time. Earlier this year we added Mike Higgins (who also drums for Jr. Jr.), and realized how unbelievably well the three of us could fit together stylistically. Hollow & Akimbo is more about keeping things lively and loose, and letting things happen as they will, whereas with Absofacto I let myself indulge my neurotic perfectionist streak. I need both in my life!