Artist Interview: Insomniac Folklore

JOSH: Tonight, our guest is Tyler Hentschel, also known as Dr. Folklore. He’s a musician from Portland who plays in the band Insomniac Folklore. Please welcome Tyler Hentschel. [clapping]

It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you this evening.

TYLER: Thanks for having me on.

JOSH: Now, I’ve never been to Portland, unfortunately. What can you tell me about your fair city?

TYLER: It is a real place. It is a town filled with beauty, and bridges, and excellent donuts and coffee. We are surrounded by more national forests than anywhere in the entire world.

JOSH: Now how long as your band been playing?

TYLER: The current lineup has been together for about two years. Insomniac Folklore has been around for nearly a decade in different forms, being anywhere from just me solo with a guitar to whoever is available. The band lineup has changed multiple times, and unfortunately I’ve been the only constant.

JOSH: Now, I’ve heard your music described as tantrum folk. Is that accurate?

TYLER: Yeah, I came up with the term myself. People frequently ask me what does Insomniac Folklore sound like – well, it’s kinda like Simon and Garfunkel, but kind of like the Dead Kennedys, and kind of like Bob Dylan and violent films and none of that really seems to add up, and so… “tantrum folk.” Kind of, the heart of folk rock music, but then whatever else it demands at the moment, it receives.

JOSH: So it’s very versatile?

TYLER: Perhaps too versatile, some would say.

JOSH: As I understand, there is a strong music community in Portland, and you work with other bands, and play with other bands?

TYLER: Yes, there are a few bands we do network and play with from time to time.

JOSH: Are they also this tantrum folk?

TYLER: I have not met another tantrum folk band at this point. I actually have a hard time finding musicians and bands that we are sonically compatible with. Sometimes we do shows with my accordion player’s other band called Carrier Pigeons – they are very good. We’ll play with anyone brave enough to be posted on a bill alongside us, more or less.

JOSH: Well, let’s get right to the important stuff. There is a Wikipedia article about Insomniac Folklore. Are you aware of this?

TYLER: I’ve heard.

JOSH: Well, the article contains those dreadful words “citation needed,” and I thought it would be a great service to the world to provide Wikipedia with the citations it begs for

TYLER: OK.

JOSH: So, let us see here… According to Wikipedia, your group “has become known for their somewhat unpredictable live shows and their sense of camaraderie as a group.” Do you concur?

TYLER: I do concur.

JOSH: Great. Secondly, according to Wikipedia, “Hentschel” – meaning you – “intends the project to be more about friendship than being a ‘concise’ band.”

TYLER: Yes, I also would agree with that because I think that’s quoting me without quoting me. I care more about people being part of this project who I like and I want to spend time with – It’s more important to me that we get along and we have our own little community, and hold each other accountable, than it is that everyone’s amazing musicians. I can musicians all over, but it’s hard to find people who you actually can get along with in real life, and actually want to spend time with.

JOSH: A couple months ago, you played at Cornerstone 2010.

TYLER: Yes.

JOSH: Now how many Cornerstones have you played?

TYLER: Insomniac Folklore has been at Cornerstone three years. My first year was in 2002, I believe, and then did not return to Cornerstone until two years ago.

JOSH: But this year, was that your first year by yourself?

TYLER: My first year out there, I was out there by myself. This was my first year – this felt like my first year by myself because I’ve grown accustomed to having a band more often than I had back then. It was actually my second time there solo, I suppose.

JOSH: Now more recently, you played X Fest Northwest?

TYLER: Indeed.

JOSH: Tell me about that festival.

TYLER: X Fest is a smaller festival, more built around community and family. There’s only probably four to five hundred people there, in Stevenson, Washington. It’s right on the Columbia Gorge – it’s surrounded by mountains and the Columbia River. Everyone just – I feel that music is more of an excuse for people to hang out and have fellowship. By the end of the weekend, generally, a good amount of the people there know each other – just a great time for community, more than most festivals I’d say, for that it’s pretty special.

JOSH: I assume you were back with the rest of your band for that?

TYLER: Yeah, minus Ayden, who saw fit to move to Pennsylvania last spring. I’m working on forgiveness in my heart, but his father Randy filled in, and did very nicely.

JOSH: Regarding EP and LP, where did you go to record these?

TYLER: Well, EP was – the drum tracks were initially recorded at Sound Ghost Studio. The rest of the album was recorded at Psychedelic Media Circus, which is a little entity based in southeast [Portland] that is under my control.

JOSH: Very good.

TYLER: I think so.

JOSH: Now, anyone who listens to your music for awhile should quickly realize that you enjoy satire and irony. What do you like about those so much?

TYLER: They might inspire thought, because then you can say things that would otherwise be completely horrible. But sometimes they catch people off guard. Sometimes people understand them; sometimes people don’t. But I like to encourage people to think. I like to hope that people are smart and can make their own judgments. Sometimes that does not seem to be so much the case, but I still strive for a better world where people can think for themselves.

JOSH: So, for instance, the song, “Kill a Baby, Save a Tree” – you’re not actually promoting killing babies.

TYLER: I am not a big fan of killing babies. In fact I would say, I am indeed opposed to killing babies. I would say that song is satirical, and saying really extreme things to prove a point.

JOSH: And your point is, in case someone missed it…

TYLER: Someone probably did. Basically sometimes I feel that people perhaps hold care for the environment more than they hold care for people. Human life seems to be more and more diminished and cheapened, and I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care for the planet, and work to conserve and be smart with our resources. It’s just, I don’t think that humans should take a backseat to that.

JOSH: Are there more works you are going to be putting out?

TYLER: There is another full-length record that is hopefully going to go in production sometime in the next calendar year. It’ll be an album that takes a 38-minute somewhat epic journey through the process of – I’d say the album is essentially about love, God, madness, and dismemberment.

JOSH: Sounds very.. complete.

TYLER: I hope so.

JOSH: And do you have a timeline planned, or is this just kind of in development?

TYLER: It’ll be done when it is complete. Really, LP is an album we worked on for a long time, and we still have not had that album as publicized as we would like – haven’t pushed distribution on it very much yet, so I’d like to be sure that LP is available to everyone who cares to have it before we put too much into promoting a new record. The next record we’ll start working on when we have free time, and finish whenever time permits. So no big rush at this point.

JOSH: Are you coming more to the Midwest in November, is that correct?

TYLER: That is correct.

JOSH: That is also for some shows?

TYLER: Yeah, I’ll actually be playing at the legendary Chuck’s Basement on Halloween. Anyone out there who wants to come to a show in St. Louis on Halloween, I recommend you do so. But, yes, we’ll be touring across country with Destroy Nate Allen in October and November.

JOSH: And did you work with Nate Allen on a recent record?

TYLER: Yeah, I actually had the privilege of recording and producing the Nate Allen record. I have not yet heard a mastered, finished copy of it, but I hope to get my own copy eventually.

JOSH: Any secrets you can tell us about that album?

TYLER: I wish I could. Anything I do tell would – there are subliminal messages I recorded backwards on the album when no one was around. They’re really low in the mix, but you may find yourself having urges, or rather compulsions, to purchase things you’ve never thought of. You may be compelled to also donate large amounts of money to a foundation that I control.

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