INTERVIEW: Andrew Rinehart on his new album, art and economics, and breakdance competitions!

There is no doubt that Andrew Rinehart is ambitious. Hailing from our hometown and a veteran of bands like Flight Nineteen and Christiansen, Rinehart has taken that gritty Louisville-sensibility, that imbues our city’s talent with a taste for the minor key,  far and wide, first during his tenure in NYC and most recently while living in LA. His time away from home has been productive with a series of EPs and performances on both coasts. Today sees the release of Nothing/Everything, a beautiful and elegant culmination of his work writ large. You can catch him tonight at the Haymarket Whiskey alongside Jaye Jayle and Wume. We caught up with him to find out about his time away, creating his album, and mosh pit etiquette. Listen below, before you pick this up.


Never Nervous: Get us up to date. What can you tell us about your new album Nothing/Everything?” How did that record come together? What should people expect?

Andrew Rinehart: I suppose the record was born out of my frustration with the bands I was involved with in New York. Things just weren’t really coming together and it started to dawn on me that if I didn’t start doing my own thing again I’d likely be forever entangled with who knows what how and why up there.  And then one day I was home in Louisville at The Nachbar with friends (Cheyenne Mize, Drew English & Matt Filip) and Cheyenne looked at me and said “when are you gonna come home and make some music with us?” And it just hit me that hey, here are people I really respect and care about who are actually down to make stuff and meanwhile I’m dealing with all this NYC scene politics bullshit and basically doing everything BUT making music — so I just kind of said “hey, I would really love to take u up on that.” So really the record happened because Drew, Cheyenne and Matt were kind enough to invite me back to do something.  Once that offer was officially made, I finished all my older songs and wrote seven or eight new ones and then soon enough we all got together and everyone came up with their parts and I booked the sessions with Kevin and really pretty quickly and without too much planning we were in there making the record.

“It just hit me that hey, here are people I really respect and care about who are actually down to make stuff and meanwhile I’m dealing with all this NYC scene politics bullshit and basically doing everything BUT making music.”

Regarding what people should expect: I don’t really know what to say other than we jump around a lot. Not one particular vibe for too long, so that’s kind of how the record goes. Though I will say the second half of the record is folkier and slows down some, gets a little darker, especially toward the end. Should suit the winter okay.

NN: The title of the record seems especially existential, more so even once you give it a good listen. How did you come to that title and why?

AR: I’m not really sure how to put it into words without sounding like a total pretentious idiot. I just knew that with this record I wanted to sort of throw everything at the wall and also that I don’t believe in any of it. I won’t be able to try any harder than that without looking real dumb.

NN: I understand that it was a long process putting this together. What went into putting this together? Who plays on the record?

AR: It took about 2 years. Mostly because of scheduling. Kevin and Cheyenne and Matt and Drew are ALL really busy, and I was living in Los Angeles for most of the time, so it sort of had to go that way.  All told I think we only spent a total of like 13 days in the studio.  It’s just that it was spread out over a long period of time. Lots of supremely talented friends of ours played on the record — Ross Kimberlin, Jeremy Holehan, Drew Osborne, Jake Reber, Scott Moore, & Scott Carney all came through and added their magic.  (I think that was everybody — apologies if I left anyone one out).  So yeah, the record definitely boasts an ensemble cast. It was very much a group effort.      

NN: Relative to that, how was the compositional process? Did you assemble folks with specific skills and the freedom to employ them as they saw fit, or was it more dictatorial?

AR: I had some ideas, but I left it pretty open and just invited people in who I knew and trusted. I’ve known all these folks for a pretty long time now, so we how to work with each other. Everyone’s really good at what they do, so it never took long to sort of figure out how everything would fit together.

NN: In what ways did your previous musical experiences influence Nothing/Everything?

“I think if u went into my brain and identified all the different musical experiences I’ve had and sort of mashed them all up, something like this record would come out.”

AR: I think if u went into my brain and identified all the different musical experiences I’ve had and sort of mashed them all up, something like this record would come out. Cuz there’s really loud stuff that pulls more from my early hardcore days, and then there’s a bunch of folk-y stuff that’s more Saredren Wells-y, and then there’s really straight like Pavement/Pixies/The Breeders type shit that prob stems from my early tween years, and then you have a couple outlier more ambient or collage type things which speak to my college days listening to weirdo library music. Idk I’m just really excited to implode it all and restart again.

NN: Are you at the moment working on any other musical projects, or are you all in on promoting the new album?

AR: I’d say my hands are fully in this, but my mind’s in the very near future.  

NN: What are the stresses involved in touring and how do you deal with them?

AR: I haven’t toured all that much compared to friends of mine, but I’d say my main beef with touring is how much down time you have, and yet it feels like you don’t have any at all. Like you spend all day all night driving and then you get to the club and soundcheck and they’re like “ok we’ll see you back here in 4 hours.” And that’s not really enough time to do anything interesting in whatever city but just enough to where you really feel like you should, and you really want to. I’m not saying anything novel here. I just find the whole thing kind of frustrating.  But once you’re on stage and everything is going really good you definitely remember “oh, this is why I do this.” And then it’s fine. So whatevs. The monotonous routines of life are annoying yet essential and inescapable. No Exit.  😐

NN: Is it possible to survive on your art alone in 2015? How do you balance creativity with a public that often sees paying for music and art as a gratuity to the artist? When should music/art be free and when not?

“If you wanna go out on a limb and make art that’s your prerogative, but if it doesn’t fetch good money at the market then hey guess what: you’re totally screwed. You’re out a bunch of money and despite what anyone thinks of it spiritually or emotionally value wise, you get the very clear message from society as a whole that “you’ve wasted your time,” or “you’ll never be able to have a decent life while doing this” or “you better hurry up and get a real job.”

AR: Yikes. Where to even start. Idk. I think it’s a real conflict of interest for humanity in general that making great shit is becoming less and less incentivised (is that even a word?). Like if you wanna go out on a limb and make art that’s your prerogative, but if it doesn’t fetch good money at the market then hey guess what: you’re totally screwed. You’re out a bunch of money and despite what anyone thinks of it spiritually or emotionally value wise, you get the very clear message from society as a whole that “you’ve wasted your time,” or “you’ll never be able to have a decent life while doing this” or “you better hurry up and get a real job,” or whatever. There are lots of issues which  surround this conversation that we could debate forever (“if it was better then maybe it WOULD make money” // “why don’t you try making music that appeals to MORE people // etc.),  but what I’m trying to get at here specifically is that it is a fact of life now for bands/musicians that financially speaking you get less of a return on your hard work than ever before. Because most people will not pay anything for it.
And hey, I’m as guilty as anyone else. I download music or stream it for free all the time. So we’re all complicit in this tradeoff we as a species have decided to make. I have a friend who books for huge touring bands and he was telling me the other day that they can’t give comps (free tickets) away anymore for seats at shows cuz the acts are making such little money. And this is for acts like Drake and The Weeknd and shit. Whereas five years ago I could ask him to get me tickets to anything and he could always hook it up for free with no trouble at all. To huge shows like Bjork, Lil’ Wayne, and Nine Inch Nails, etc.. The few remaining acts that can still sell out arenas. But now even those level acts are clamping down. Cuz there’s just less and less money coming in.    

The silver lining of all this is I suppose it filters out everyone who isn’t willing to starve / die for their art.  But is that even helpful?  It all seems pretty uselessly masochistic.  Idk.  I think America / American capitalism just kind of sucks in general.  Bullshit is subsidized and really good shit usually isn’t. But I suppose that’s all in the eye of the begrudgeholder.  All I know is when I hear stories of Canadian friends making records with happily given government grant money it makes me feel pretty envious.

“I think America / American capitalism just kind of sucks in general. Bullshit is subsidized and really good shit usually isn’t. But I suppose that’s all in the eye of the begrudgeholder.”

Also: and this is a very important point — all that shit I just said is basically complaining and that doesn’t get anyone anywhere, so honestly I just try to ignore all the negatives and just finish the job. Plan it out as best as I can. What else is there to do?

NN: How did you come to go by Andrew Rinehart? Is it a separate persona, or just a disambiguation of your name?

AR: There’s a character in this book I like that’s sort of a chameleon type guy, and his name was Rinehart.

NN: In moving back home, how do you see Louisville as comparing to either NYC or LA in terms of the music and arts scene?

AR: I think Louisville’s a way cooler city than both NY or LA, simply because it isn’t so painfully, disgustingly full of itself. And people around the world aren’t like “oh man I really need to go to Louisville.” That keeps everything pretty real. You don’t live here out of opportunism. But obviously Louisville lacks certain infrastructure, and the community of people here who are doing cool stuff is smaller comparatively. So there are pros and cons, like with anything. My main thang is it’s cheap and chill and all my beloved ones are here(!).

NN: What is your favorite song to mosh to? What song have you written that is most moshable and why? Walk us through your pit etiquette.

AR: Haha. This is my fav question so far. Most of the Flight Nineteen songs were pretty moshable to. My favorite pit experiences were probably during By The Grace Of God shows at Sparks. I also have fond memories from when bands used to cover Endpoint’s song Caste. It happened a couple times and it was just absolutely batshit crazy fun.

“Personally I think the vibe of the pit should always be: do what you’re gonna do while being sensitive to the other people around you.”

Personally I think the vibe of the pit should always be: do what you’re gonna do while being sensitive to the other people around you.  I see the pit as a sort of Temporary Autonomous Zone and emotional-relief system (so emo I know).  I think people should help each other to experience the very-rare-in-life true freedom in there, and that it should be a beautiful, transcendent experience.  So I have a great distaste for the sort of unchecked, willfully reckless violence that so often characterizes a mosh pit. Especially the male-centricness aspect of it — any time I experience dudes being super violent and aggressive in a consciously harmful way, that turns me off from the whole thing. I saw a lot of that growing up. It was a bummer.

But when it’s good it’s really, really good.

NN: Who is the most famous person that you’ve ever thought about challenging to a breakdancing competition? Defend your answer.

AR: The first person who comes to mind is David Byrne. But I would definitely NOT do that.  That would not end well for me. I suppose it could be fun to re-animate Ian Curtis and have a dance off with him, cuz he def had moves. I’d have no chance in that battle either though. I’m gonna go with a very general and vague answer and say: “the entire of cast Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.”

NN: What non-musical things have tickled your fancy lately and why? Have you watched, read, eaten, or drank anything worth note recently?

AR: I’ve been enjoying shopping for very cheap clothes in real junky places around town. Found a pretty interesting “work clothes” store near Vietnam Kitchen that carries these ridiculous cartoon jackets — snagged me a real solid “Tinkerbell” bomber.  Watch-wise I’m looking forward to seeing my friends’ (Zach Treitz, Tim Morton, & David Maloney) movie Men Go To Battle, though I keep missing their big screenings because of this little tour I’m going on.  Also the new Twin Peaks (whenever the hell that’s gonna come out).  Reading-wise I just got a Proust book (Swann’s Way) on the recommendation of a friend who’s real smart and used to play music / live here.  Also thinking abut exploring that “Inherent Viceauthor guy’s world (I got The Crying of Lot 49 or whatever it’s called (cuz it’s short as heyull)).

I recently read a couple of those Murakami books and enjoyed them okay I guess, but ultimately I don’t think I’m really into what he’s doing.  I also tried tackling DFW’s Infinite Jest earlier this year, but I found it so utterly depressing and I deal with some of that shit on my own anyway so ultimately I just kind of decided that I don’t really wanna spend hours and hours inside the very neurotic head of a guy who literally murdered himself.  I did enjoy that movie about him though (The End Of The Tour). When I first found out Jason Segel was playing him I was pretty bummed out, but I have to say he actually did a pretty good job.  It’s a great and very palatable flick, a nice sort of not-challenging entrance into Wallace’s world.  (If you happen to be interested.)

One further note: After leaving said movie I binge-watched a bunch of Wallace’s interviews on YouTube. Very interesting stuff, his competitiveness and seemingly monstrous need to win and upstage, especially when you consider what he eventually did. A cautionary tale perhaps? Idk, maybe I’m just projecting. Either way, I found myself wondering.            

NN: Last but not least, what are your top three desert island albums and why?

AR: Aargh this question is so tuff.  Ok I’d definitely pick The For Carnation’s self titled album. That came to mind immediately. I think maybe I’d take Tortoise’s TNT too — that’s a great record to get things done to, and obviously I’d def have to get a lot of things done if I were stranded on a desert island.  Then maybe I’d take like an early Steve Martin standup record. Something that would keep me laughing through the existential drudgery.

*Runners up (I realize this is kind of cheating but fluct it): I’d love to have Miles Davis’s Sketches Of Spain with me, and William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops (would pair well with the sound of the waves), & Laurie Andersen’s Big Science, plus a bunch of Arvo Part stuff (Alina & Tabula Rasa), Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly Soundtrack (you can’t f with that record), The Chronic obviously, maybe that first Suicide record, and some other select rap shit — The Pharcyde, early Wu Tang, Bone Thugz, N.W.A., etc..  This artist guy Pictureplane who I kinda know from NYC just made this amazing mix of 90’s underground Memphis rap stuff he ripped off cassettes.  Been listening to that a lot — that’d be nice to have too, if I’m still being greedy.