What started as a solo endeavor brought to life by Cursive frontman Tim Kasher, The Good Life soon became an established group in the early 2000s that leaned more toward an introspective, yet serene esthetic in comparison to Cursive’s raw and avant-garde Midwestern emo delivery.
With the release of studio albums like Album Of The Year and Help Wanted Nights, The Good Life’s wholesome sound is truly reflected through the chemistry of its members. There is no question that The Good Life’s entire catalog is an essential staple to the Omaha-based label, Saddle Creek Records, who have also released work for groups like Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Hop Along, as well as Kasher’s long-running group, Cursive.
A few months after Cursive finished a run of spring dates celebrating the re-release of their acclaimed record, The Ugly Organ, it was also announced that Kasher re-activated The Good Life with the intentions of putting out their first studio full-length in eight years, Everybody’s Coming Down, along with bringing the group back together for a supporting tour in August.
Right before the release of Everybody’s Coming Down and the band’s upcoming tour, I had the chance to speak with bassist Stefanie Drootin about their excitement to release a new record once again, the smooth and natural writing process of Everybody’s Coming Down, as well as briefly discussing her project Big Harp, who will also be joining The Good Life on the road as opening support.
It’s getting pretty close to the release of Everybody’s Coming Down, your first studio album in eight years. How excited are you to have this record finally see the light of day?
So excited, so excited.
Considering that this is your first release since 2007’s Help Wanted Nights, what was the inspiration behind getting The Good Life back together and put out a new album this time around?
It was [The Good Life vocalist and guitarist] Tim Kasher’s idea. I think that he was writing some songs that really just seemed like Good Life songs to him. He emailed me, and asked, “What do think? Would this be something that you’d be interested in? I know that you’re busy, would you be able to make this work?” And I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it!” So, he wrote the rest of the record, and everyone was just excited to do it.
I know a few years back, Tim released Adult Film, and I actually just saw Cursive on their recent spring tour where they played The Ugly Organ in its entirety. Now that The Good Life is putting out this new record and will be touring, would you say that this is most active he has been musically in recent years?
You know, I think he’s all… I mean, we all constantly have put… None of us have taken a break, but I don’t know if it’s more than usual. I think he’s always writing or playing, so I would say that it’s probably the same. I mean, in the past, he would be on a Cursive cycle, and then immediately a Good Life cycle, and then back to Cursive, and then Good Life. So, I think that’s just the way he does it; he likes to keep busy.
Since Help Wanted Nights or even going back further since the early days of The Good Life, have you been involved with any other groups affiliated with Tim Kasher, or have played with any other groups on your own?
There is, actually. We’re touring with The Good Life—it’s me and my husband’s band, Big Harp. It’s another project I’m working on, and we’re releasing a tape on… Ryan Fox, from The Good Life, has a little tape label, and we’re releasing it along with the tour. We’ve had a couple of other records, and we’ve been very busy for the last four years as well.
Getting into the writing process of Everybody’s Coming Down, what was it like writing and working on this material together once again? Do you feel like The Good Life has developed personally and musically since your last record?
Definitely so, we’ve all definitely developed. Like I said, we’ve all kept busy playing… well, apart, so obviously, you grow if you keep at something—I think we’ve developed that way. The songwriting process was very smooth, and it went just how it always does. It was fun and it was fast, really fast. It was kind of just like going back to our old ways.
Nice. So, it was definitely a natural process throughout, would you say?
I’d like to think of it almost like reconnecting with an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long time.
Yeah, exactly! There was no awkward, “getting used to each other again,” we kind of just fell right back in.
If you had to pick any track off of the new record, what you would say would be a personal favorite of yours?
Off of our new record? It changes, I will say that, but I really love the song “Skeleton Song.” It’s just a really quick, fun song, and I don’t know, I just love the way it how feels, you know? It’s just a good, fun-feeling song. I really like it.
Are there any elements of Everybody’s Coming Down that you think might remind fans of any of your past material? Or is record a completely unique entity within itself?
No, there’s definitely… I mean, there’s a lot new elements brought in, but I think Tim’s songwriting is Tim’s songwriting, and that is going to cross over between both. And there are some songs like “The Troubadour’s Green Room” that I think that Tim brought into one of our other records very easily. There’s definitely hints of some old stuff mixed with some new vibes I’d say.
Now earlier, you mentioned that with every Cursive cycle Tim would finish, he would then start up another Good Life tour cycle. With the new record coming out, will this also be the first time The Good Life is touring in a very long time as well?
Well, we’ve done a few little things—like, while we were writing, we did a tiny, little West Coast… actually, really just California tour. I live out in California, so they came out to me and we practiced out there and did L.A., San Francisco and Santa Ana shows. Then we did a little Midwest run while we went into record because we recorded in Omaha, so we did Chicago and Minneapolis and Omaha. Besides that, I mean, maybe a couple of things sprinkled in the last two years, but really not many at all.
Very, cool. Now, what are some things that fans should look forward to for these upcoming dates? Will you be heavily supporting a lot of the old material throughout?
Yeah, we’re definitely going to do some old songs too. It’s going to be a really good mix—we’ll play a lot of new songs, we’ve been preparing a lot of old songs. So yeah, it’s a good mix.
With this new release of Everybody’s Coming Down getting closer and closer, has there been a lot of eagerness and excitement to get back on the road again and play these new songs?
Yeah, we’re really excited—super excited. We’re looking forward to it.
Once this upcoming tour is all said and done, are there any other plans in store for The Good Life?
It’s really, really hard to say. Big Harp will keep active during this cycle, but I don’t know what The Good Life’s plan is. I think we have a European tour coming up, maybe a little next year. We’ll probably do a little bit more touring and stuff, so I think the cycle will last into 2016 for sure. Then, I don’t know—we have a lot of stuff to see.
Yeah, it definitely seems like you are in a very, good place right now where there is not really any specific pressure to go out and tour extensively just because you all have different responsibilities and are involved with different projects. It seems like a very comfortable place to do whatever you want.
Exactly, it really is. It’s really low-stress and fun.
The Good Life will be playing at the Bowery Ballroom on Aug. 27. The band’s fifth studio album, Everybody’s Coming Down, is available now on Saddle Creek Records. For more information, go to thegoodlifemusic.com.