It's been almost a month since Kinch made its latest record, The Incandenza, available to stream online. On Thursday, October 13, they'll be celebrating the official album release with a performance at the Rhythm Room with Let Down Right and Yellow Minute.
Andrew Junker took time from the highway to talk to Up On the Sun about the David Foster Wallace-inspired record and explains "VHS."
"A lot of the record, 'VHS' included, I tried to fill with characters that I wouldn't normally like, but tried to make sympathetic," Junker says in an email while driving in from San Diego. "Most of these characters are only fully formed in my head, not really by design, but more because it's really tough to give a fully sketched character away in a song."
The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m., and you can score your ticket and CD for $15 here, or fork out $10 at the door the night of the show.
About "VHS": I wrote "VHS" on my acoustic guitar over a period of a couple days when I made a bunch of demos of song pieces I had laying around. Like a lot of the songs I write, the lyrical idea popped into my head while I was figuring out the melody and chords. The line appeared about putting something in my will, and then I imagined it being, like, one of those video recorded wills like you sometimes see on an old school Law & Order: "The old bastard left all his money to his strumpetty mistress when he died, and watching the expression on the face of the deceased's brow-beaten son as he watches the VHS'd last will & testament only confirms to Jack McCoy that there's some major patricidal feeling in the room."
So, that got me to thinking about making the song about a character who's really kind of unsavory and unsympathetic, but who you can't help but feel a little sorry for. Like all those obscenely wealthy Wes Anderson-ish characters who have such beauty, charisma, and well-tailored clothing that they really don't need any of our sympathy, except, in my case at least, they often get a lot of my sympathy, probably because I want to imagine that I'm not so dissimilar to them as I know I am, and that the monstrously privileged have got to stick together.
Behind the lyrics: The lyrics of "VHS" are about a rich kid who gets into trouble and whose initial response is a sort of whiny, "Daddy, why aren't you here to help me," and who even briefly fantasizes that when his father dies, there will be this dramatic video tape that explains everything to him about being a fully functional human being. But he's in trouble, and probably rightly so. It looks like there's some lurid and felonious stuff going on in his life right now, but it also looks like this might be a moment of clarity or realization for him. An opportunity for growth, maybe blandly call it. And I feel sympathy for and a kinship to him.
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Inspiring The Incandenza: That, broadly, is what a lot of the songs in The Incandenza ended up being about for me. You asked about what was influencing the making of the record, and, certainly, we took its name from a book by David Foster Wallace that I love very much, though I was a little nervous doing that because such a blatant homage looks like we're maybe trying a little too hard or something. But, in the end, that book, Infinite Jest influenced me the most in making this record, and I think that what influenced me the most in the book was the way that Wallace was so generous to his characters. He was decent to them, and you could tell that he really loved them, which made me as a reader really want to love them. And I tried to do that with the characters in my songs and with the songs in general. We really loved them, and if they sound good to anyone, it will be due in large part to that.
I like a certain level of abstraction and unmoored allusions in my lyrics, as opposed to like, super story-driven songs. But the stories and the characters are all there, and there's even plenty for the rabid listener (if we have any) to build upon and make her own, which is one of my favorite things about music listening. Like the story and characters that, in my mind, live inside the Radiohead song, "Little by Little" or "Codex." I always think of songs in terms of characters living inside them.