As someone with no experience in interviewing anyone I’ve listened to this much before, you can imagine how nervous I was as I waited outside in the cold for Mike Kinsella who’s popularly known for his solo project, Owen. Upon meeting him though, he struck me as an easygoing and down to earth guy. It wasn’t very hard for me to feel comfortable and my nervousness more or less slipped away. “You’re from the Philippines, right?” he asked. I then brought up the subject of him possibly playing in Manila. “Is there a way I could go there and not spend a bunch of money?” I can already hear the voices of many who’d be willing to take him in should he ever decide to go soon.
In Manila, the independent music scene is thriving and so many talented acts are coming out of their shells. As an accomplished independent musician, what can you advise them?
Just keep doing it. I think that’s the only reason I’m still doing it. The bands I was in that were more popular than the Owen thing I’m doing now weren’t popular when we were doing them, you know? Like Cap’N Jazz, American Football, and Joan of Arc were never popular and we didn’t make money or anything. Then after the fact, they kind of got popular and it makes sense because it’s like there’s just more mystique about them or something. Nobody knows that Cap’N Jazz rarely played more than three songs ’cause we’d break all our guitars while we’re playing. So yeah, just keep doing it and then enjoy the process of it.
In your shows, you like to talk about random things like the current events and such. I’m sure you’re aware of the SOPA/PIPA bill that’s threatening the internet right now. What’s your take on it?
I think it’s bad for society to limit the internet. Even as an artist, their argument is to like generate people’s creative properties. It’s a bigger deal than just me having people steal my songs or anybody’s and even movies. I feel like you can’t stop it and you can’t just put that back in a box now. I’m not really worried about it. It’s like, “Aah, people are dying in car accidents. Now they’re gonna try to make a bill that people can’t drive cars.” No, we’re gonna use cars still.
Pick one song by you that you’ll never get tired of playing.
There’s a lot of songs with certain emotions or sentiments that inspired them that I can’t even relate to anymore. So I’m trying to think of a song that’s not necessarily rooted into a specific time in my life. Maybe “Bad News” since it’s more general and can be applied to more circumstances. But you know what, on the new album there’s a song called, “O, Evelyn.” It’s the simplest song I ever wrote and I really enjoy playing it because I don’t have to like think about it physically or anything.
What is your favorite city that you’ve played in so far?
Tokyo. I’ve toured Japan a few times and it’s great. Everybody’s very quiet, considerate and interested. I don’t know if they’re faking it or not. Either way, I love it. It’s just a different vibe. I don’t consider myself a performer, really, I just play my songs. But there, everyone’s sort of watching so much and I feel like I’m performing. They go there to actually watch the band which I think is cool. As a guy who plays quiet music, it’s super appreciated. And I just love being in Tokyo.
How about touring other Asian countries in the future?
You know what, I’ll make a promise to myself. In a few years, when my kids are old enough, maybe me and the wife will do a little vacation tour. I would love it.
What record would you like your kid to listen to thoroughly in the future?
Maybe something by The Smiths or The Cure.
What’s your mantra in life?
No big deal.
Owen played at the Troubadour with El May and Mini Mansions on January 19, 2012. His new full-length record is called ‘Ghost Town’.