Mr. Husband (Songs of Friendship, Songs of Wonderment, out now) – ITW #23
Mr. Husband is the creative project of Kenny Tompkins, a Maryland-based doer who seems to have only his nurtured curiosity as limit. The album Songs of Friendship, Songs of Wonderment is out now on Yellow K Records.
If you happen to be a Slow Culture follower (and we already called the cops if you’re not), you might have listened to the band already. Still, for us that wasn’t enough considering the rich personality and the determination of Kenny.
This is our interview.
Read now, or…
Our interview with Kenny Tompkins aka Mr. Husband:
Your music, in its writing and production, seems to be heavily influenced by the surf music period. Our Brian Wilson worship detector is beeping. Tell us more about it.
To be honest I am not a Brian Wilson worshipper, merely a fan. Around 2012 My music started taking on a sound that is often compared to his but that was never a conscious thing for me. I’m just chasing down harmonies and production sounds that work with my songs and my voice. It happens to be that they end up resembling the Beach Boys sometimes. I’m now obsessed with “Pet Sounds” and “Smiley Smile” but that came as a result of the comparisons. It made me listen to the Beach Boys more. I was raised with a deep loyalty to the Beatles. The Beach Boys were just a footnote in my family. That said, I got to meet Brian Wilson and Al Jardine in 2014 and give them a copy of my record. Al was super cool and asked me and my wife where we were eating dinner, then sincerely considered joining us for a minute. Brian was nonplussed. I have pictures.
Some of the tracks appearing on Songs of Friendship, Songs of Wonderment were already published on Plaid On Plaid, your 2017 album. For a prolific artist like you, what’s the point and motive of reissuing past tracks?
The four collections I have released (Plaid on Plaid, Silvertone, Ocean Pines, The Husky Section) are all mini-albums at 8 songs each. They were only issued on cassette and were released very close together. I wanted to get a ton of material out of my system but could not justify a vinyl release for each of them. I feel self aware about asking people to buy that much stuff or asking the label to let me dominate the release budget that much. So I cherry-picked the best stuff and added some new ones and made a compendium of sorts for our first true full-length LP. It has been a major exercise in patience for me as other songs have piled up behind it. So it goes…
About the Kinny Husband character: is this persona driving your art, or is your art enriching the persona? Why did you even choose to have a persona?
One day in 2014 I was thinking about an album cover I was making for a new record. I was thinking about how it needed to be made for a certain scale due to the internet. If you make a hyper-detailed album cover it is often displayed at a scale so small that you can’t really get what is great about it. You must understand the scale and work within it if you want to have an impact in these confined spaces. Then it dawned on me that my personality was not the right scale for the internet so I rendered it down to a lower resolution. Most of the things my persona does come very natural to me because they are just a 2-dimensional version of my real personality. The formula is basically just to make fun of myself in a way that feels positive for everyone else.
How do the other people surrounding the making of the project feel about Kinny Husband? No hard feelings resulting from this omnipresence?
Everyone in the band are very old friends. After band practice we hang out and come up with ideas for the funny stuff together. I have seen the guys take as much joy working on comedy as they do working on songs. Same church, different pew. I can safely say that they are deeply relieved that ol’ Kinny carries the weight. My real self is also relieved to be sacred and unavailable to the internet for promotional purposes. Call me old fashion…
Your verbal and written communication is beaming with gratitude and optimism. Where is such positive strength coming from?
A lot of people take the idea of general morale for granted these days. I do not. I really believe in the social-subconscious and try to make active contributions to the vibe out there. I am perpetually, maybe even annoyingly friendly in real life and it just comes natural to communicate that way online. Don’t get me wrong, I get down and feel dark all the time but I like to be strong and positive when I am with other people as often as I can.
From a general, globalized perception, Maryland doesn’t seem to be a state of culture in the noble sense. Yet, you seem to love Maryland. Could you detail why?
I don’t know anything about the noble sense but I will tell you this: Maryland is an emergent post-globalist culture of an entirely new nature. Three of the most diverse cities in the USA are all 20 minutes from my house (Gaithersburg, Germantown, Silver Spring). Maryland is “America in miniature”. We have all four seasons and you can find every type of natural feature here except desert. The craft beer and legal weed scenes are vibrant and alive. I work in renewable energy which is also thriving. But the people I have met here are everything you could ever hope for. Smart. Unassuming, loving.
The vast majority of your content is managed by yourself from A to Z. Is it just a matter of cost reductions, or are there other reasons such as your own curiosity and will to learn?
Definitely the will to learn and also the will to be engaged. My music is such a personal thing and I could see that, at a certain point if the band were bigger, I would need to involve other people in it but I enjoy engaging with it directly and will continue to do that as long as I can. Engagement is one of my core values alongside friendship, wonderment, indie rawk, and hard work.
Songs, Vocals, Guitars, Keys, Recording, Mixing by Kenny Tompkins
Chris Morris on Drums
Jasen Reeder on Bass
Curt Tompkins on Drums on 1,4,5,6
Kenny Eaton Engineered on 3, 7, 9, 11.
Jasen Reeder Engineered on 2, 8, 10, 12,
Art/Layout by Kinnith Huxpin
About Kenny Tompkins
Kenny Tompkins is a highly prolific artist and producer who has released music under his own name as well as the names Mr. Husband, New God, The Christmas Lights, The R.A.R.C, and the Trend. He is co-founder of noteworthy indie label Yellow K Records as well as his own imprint Good Soil Records. He has served as mixing and mastering engineer on many releases such as Michael Nau’s “Mowing” and Perfect Future’s “Old Wounds”. His work has been featured in publications such as NPR, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Rolling Stone, and many more.
Written by Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture.
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