Owen Ashworth Still Emotes Via Song, Just Under a Different Name
Published: Friday, June 1, 2012
Updated: Friday, June 1, 2012 14:06
Owen Ashworth has come a long way in his career. A shy student that recorded songs in his bedroom made a name for himself under the title Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Heartfelt lyrics and somber melodies were his specialty, but now the 35-year-old musician is starting a new chapter in his life.
Ashworth’s new project, Advance Base, is much more upbeat and musical than his previous work. Now that he has a wife and a 7-month-old baby at home, Ashworth said he can’t tour nearly as much as he used to, but is still making music – just no longer so alone.
College Times: When did you know that you wanted to let Casiotone for the Painfully Alone go and start a new project?
Owen Ashworth: Well the last Casiotone album was called Vs. Childrenand it’san album that I had in mind for a few years. I had this idea that it was going to be the last Casiotone album. I knew I was going to write songs and do music for a long time, but I didn’t want to keep doing the Casiotone project forever because it’s something that I started when I was 20 and I feel like it was very representative of a certain time in my life. I kind of like the idea of just letting go of the old songs and starting over with a clean slate. I have a lot of friends in bands and they break up for whatever reason over the years, but ‘cause it was just me there was no real outside force that was going to end my band I took it upon myself. Starting Advance Base was a challenge to write a whole new set of songs and start from scratch again. It got tough writing as Casiotone moved along. I had five albums and [when I was] trying to write I was always thinking in the back of my mind how they were going to fit in the context of all the other songs. I don’t have that problem anymore. I just play the songs I have so that’s nice.
Have you played these songs live yet?
Yeah, I started playing Advance Base shows last year. I was starting from scratch and, literally, my set got longer every time I wrote a song. This is the first tour since the record came out. I’m really excited about having an album to present to people. It’s different than Casiotone was and I think it is totally inevitable that I’ll lose some people, but I think Advance Base is different enough where this might appeal more to some people who wouldn’t have liked Casiotone. These are smaller shows than I was playing by the end of Casiotone and that’s part of the challenge, building an audience again.
From what I understand, you didn’t get to pick the name Casiotone for the Painfully Alone.
That’s true. This is the first band I’ve had where I picked the name. It’s a reference to a book written by Admiral Richard Byrd called “Alone,” which was about winters he spent in Antarctica in total isolation in this hut called Advance Base. He was doing astronomical charts and there was a gas leak in his hut and he was completely isolated for three months in this state of delirium. It was very inspiring and kind of terrifying book. I read it shortly after moving to Chicago, and I think living in a much colder place than I was use to and recording all these songs in isolation on my four-track. Advance Base seemed like an appropriate name at the time. I like that it’s not as leading or intense a name as Casiotone was. It leaves a little more to the imagination. It doesn’t exactly spell out what you’re going to listen to like Casiotone did.
You also write songs from the female perspective.
It’s not something that I usually spell out but almost all the songs are from the perspective of someone else. I imagine fictional characters, and I see [the songs] more as short stories. I think inevitably once someone opens their mouth and says the word “I” that they’re talking about themselves. I write from female perspective pretty often, maybe more often than male, but I think part of that is just trying to figure out what’s motivating people. It’s my own fascination and curiosity with human psychology. I’m trying to figure out the way people work and kind of getting in people’s heads is the way I kind of sort out my own feelings.
Advance Base (Formerly CFTPA) w/Nick Krgovich (No Kids/Mount Eerie), North Dakota, Trunk Space, June 4, 7:30 p.m., $6 adv, $8 dos