Tim Kasher (Cursive, The Good Life) has always written songs possessing the cinematic quality of movie storyboards: figural sketches pinning and outlining major moments.
His filmic sensibility is present in the self-destructive pas de deux at the core of "The Game of Who Needs Who Worst" (from Cursive's 2000 breakthrough divorce drama Domestica); The Good Life's 12-track Album of the Year, with its seasonal-relational conceit; or even the character-laden follow-up Help Wanted Nights, which Kasher wrote in concert with an unproduced screenplay of the same name.
A born storyteller, Kasher came of age amid the vibrant Omaha underground rock scene that was also the birthplace of The Faint and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. Music became Kasher's milieu almost by default, yet he still had movies on his mind and even decamped to Los Angeles to chase his screen dream after achieving some measure of indie rock success.
Like many ambitious auteurs, Kasher's story is full of woulda-coulda-shouldas. He finally took the initiative last year and produced No Resolution, the album soundtrack to a film of the same name.
"There is something crazy-rewarding about delving into a new medium and not something I was anticipating," said Kasher, now back in Los Angeles after moving to Chicago for filming. "I can't say they're vivid, but I have decent memories of the first time I went into the studio as a teenager and listening to mixes in the car on the way back home. Just a really exciting time in my life. It's awesome to pick up with a different medium and have all that sort of excitement all over again."
Though Kasher found many supporters while out in L.A., they may not have done him any favors by feeding his idealism. Too often he was distracted from the here and now with the dream of a better opportunity tomorrow.
"When I started this facet of writing so many years ago, I wrote things small with the intent of making them myself. I feel like I got kind of too caught up in doing it the right way [which is] a good problem to have on paper," said Kasher. "I kept having these conversations with people like, 'At the end of the day, I just want to make sure it gets made and I'm comfortable doing that myself.'
"I would say that but I could never quite convince others or myself," he added, "because there was always that kind of caveat, 'Maybe this could be a much bigger production.'"
Most of Kasher's work has concerned the politics of relationships and No Resolution is no exception. Like a movie, it begins in turmoil. The protagonist struggles to commit and contain a sense of restlessness, as Kasher worries on "Runts" about his ability to "settle down." By the closing track he's "Not Over You," which hints at the reason for naming the album No Resolution.
Fortunately, Kasher's life is not so biographical as his divorce around the time of Domestica made it seem.
He was recently remarried, and his new wife was the impetus for relocating to L.A. from Chicago, where he'd been living for both the Midwestern vibe and the ability to find talented, committed help willing to work below union scale.
"That's totally why I moved to Chicago and it's the reason I loved it when we shot the movie there. That was all part of the intent," he said. "We had fallen in love with Chicago and weren't planning on leaving. Then she got offered a job out of the blue."
Kasher credits Sharon Van Etten as a big inspiration for how he approached No Resolution.
"Her records are like an overall feeling or an overall experience to me. I don't even pick out the songs as much as I just put it on and it washes over me," he said. "I pushed so long to put out eclectic albums and this record is so homogenous for me, and I think that's the interest in Sharon van Etten's album production, writing an album as a whole."
On such a richly orchestrated album as No Resolution, Kasher was tempted to "pick different instruments off the shelf for different melodies," a strategy he's pursued in the past. Instead, he held the line on conformity.
"The strings are a character and the flute is a character and I never really thought about it in those terms. So I think in a broad subconscious sense, I thought maybe I'd like there to be a feeling of cohesion," he said.
Now that he's made one movie—which he anticipates touring this fall with a short acoustic set at the end—he's already thinking about the second.
"I've been anticipating this for 12 years and, in delving into this, I've heard that making a second movie can actually tend to be much harder than the first. And so I'm definitely anticipating that now," said Kasher, who already has a script.
There is also another production company looking into doing Kasher's first script, Help Wanted Nights, but he's not interested in getting too far ahead of himself.
"This could've potentially been my third or fourth movie if I would've just done what I did with this movie," said Kasher. "I needed to step away from the system, the machinery, and make sure it got made myself and I'm really proud of that, really glad I did. Now I just want to keep moving forward to try and do it that way."