Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Grant Johnson at Good Danny's, Austin, Texas
The people in the songs that Mike Kinsella writes under the moniker of Owen are people who have been rinsed completely. It doesn't mean they're clean, but they've been scrubbed. They've absorbed and absorbed and now they're rinsing. They're ridding themselves of the residue, sadly knowing that there is always going to be a sticky film that won't rinse away, no matter how hard they try. They are stuck with the remainders that they weren't prepared for. They will be accompanied by the nettlesome feelings that others have brought on through careless displays and through tender suggestion. They look at the finest of details and realize that most of this isn't healthy. It's not unhealthy, but it's not healthy either.
Kinsella, for as in-depth of an approach as he takes with his characters, seems grounded in the simple and uncomplicated goodness of life that can be had at very little cost. Life can just be good with what you have - you've got a good wife whom you love more now than you did then, children who remind you about purity and joy and you realize that wanting anything more would be folly. He's good with being a dad and trying to not have too many beers before he has to perform. It doesn't mean that there's not so much more going on inside - the kind of turbulence and balancing act that we all fight with. As normal and rooted as we all might feel most of the time, we know what we have going on in our heads and it's usually startling, or it would be were someone to open us up and pull out the transcript.
Owen songs are those sentiments brought to life. Kinsella sings about "not coming home til these demons get bored," in the early moments of his latest record "Ghost Town," and it might be a part of himself that he entertains, but only under rare circumstances. He allows himself those times when the valve just needs to be open wide and all the toxins can flow freely. His songs are about desire and passion and how they trip up. They are about how people let themselves get fucked up so easily, how they get immersed in the fumbles and failures and awkward moments that are everywhere and how it's not the worst thing that could ever happen to them.
It's just fine to get a little fucked up, to feel that everything's gone haywire. Kinsella reasons with the demons and the paranoia, with the understanding that he sings in "Mother's Milk Breath," "Me and you kid/Learning how to live/With these tired eyes and thin skin." It will be okay. We'll be just fine, or we won't be.
Owen Official Site