An interview with A Pilgrimage to Save This Human Race

What are your major musical influences?

I think some of my more obvious influences would be Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (for awhile I was unsure whether I was being overly derivative of his style until I began writing a few folksier songs), as well as Beat Happening, Daniel Johnston, Kimya Dawson (whom I’ve met a few times and is an absolutely delightful person), David-Ivar Herman D?ne’s solo ukulele stuff is just wonderful, and I know he’s influenced me some. Plan-It-X Records, Friends and Relatives Records, and all those kids in Bloomington, IN are just so inspiring that I think going to a house show up there would make anyone want to be a musician. Matty Pop Chart and Dennis Driscoll would probably be my two hugest influences lately. I like musicians who aren’t out to save the world with their music.

I enjoy a good, catchy fun, short little pop song, and I don’t really mind whether it’s sloppy, or if the musician messes up or whatever. All that just adds character, you know, reminds you that you’re actually listening to a human being. My girlfriend told me that she likes the Bob Dylan song “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” because of the way he laughs at the beginning (well, and because it’s a wonderful song), and I totally agree with her. Little things like that can set the mood of a song so well. I listen to a lot of Billy Joel. More so in the winter, because that’s the kind of music he writes, but I think he’s just amazing. Probably the best musician to ever grace the Adult Contemporary radio format. I was raised on all kinds of 60’s pop and folk, so I’m a big Simon and Garfunkel junkie. The Lovin’ Spoonful, Donovan, all that stuff is just wonderful. The Beatles. Not much to say about them, really. I love old female country singers. Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells. I think the Grand Ole’ Opry is pretty cool, I got to see Emmylou Harris and Jeannie Seely play there this year and that was fun.

What are your major non-musical influences?

Love? I think that’s an influence for most people, unless you’re writing like, strictly political music, but even that’s a sort of love (or a passion, at least). I like love songs, I think there’s a pretty good reason that so many people from so many different walks of life write them. Woody Allen is pretty cool. He inspires me. Writers like Hemmingway, J.K. Rowling, Albert Camus, Nick Hornby, Samuel Beckett. NPR is awesome. Maybe not inspiration-level awesome, but I enjoy it. Mostly I’m inspired by things that happen to me, things I see while living my life, feelings, situations i get in, memories I have, stories people tell me, pretty standard fare, I think.

What events in your early life helped to shape your view of the world?

Wow, that’s a heavy question. I like to think I have a pretty positive outlook. I generally am a happy-go-lucky guy, and I think some of that credit goes to my parents, who are great people. Like I mentioned briefly before, my parents (my dad especially) introduced me (and still do, on occasion) to some great music at an early age that I still really like, so that’s got to affect my view of the musical world. I didn’t have a very crazy childhood. I grew up in Newburgh, IN, a suburb of Evansville, IN, and I live in a neighborhood where I used to play with the neighbor’s kids when I was little, I went to public school, My dad’s an optometrist, my mom’s a preschool teacher. I was kinda nerdy in school, I liked video games a lot, and I installed Linux on my computer when I was about sixteen, after I’d read Linus Torvalds’ biography over and over again. I wasn’t popular, but I enlightened enough to know that was a good thing. I discovered They Might Be Giants at about 14 and quickly became a rabid fan. That affected me musically. Maybe that should go in the first question.

What are your five favorite recent albums?

1. Dennis Driscoll – Mysterium Mysterium (not recently released, but recently purchased by me, and it’s awesome, so I’m putting it on here)

2. Matty Pop Chart – Good Old Water

3. Spoonboy – I Love You, This is a Robbery

4. Kimya Dawson – Hidden Vagenda

5. Tullycraft – Disenchanted Hearts Unite

If you could record an album with any musicians, living or dead, who would it be?

Calvin Johnson, Jonathan Richman, John Linnell, Daniel Smith (of Danielson Famile). But really, I’d probably be so nervous that I’d be all uncomfortable around those guys (especially John Linnell and Johnathan Richman), so I’d probably rather work with Kimya Dawson, Matty Pop Chart, Dennis Driscoll, and maybe my friend Adam or my girlfriend Mandie, just because I know if one of them was there, I’d be able to joke around and I wouldn’t got too shy or anything.

What is your musical quest?

I’m on a pilgrimage to save this human race. I know my music can and will solve everyone’s problems, stop war, racism, cut down on carb intake, initiate voting poll reform, solve spiritual dilemmas, eliminate underage drinking and keep U2 from making albums.

What is your favorite color?

Brown, actually. It’s nice.

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