Kasey Anderson Talks ‘Let the Bloody Moon Rise’ Reissue, Artists in Recovery, Final Solo Record and More (INTERVIEW)

Like nearly all artists, Kasey Anderson was sidelined by the pandemic as he was forced to put what was supposed to be his final album To the Places We Lived (now due this fall) on hold. Suddenly, things changed for the self-professed “Gradually Retiring Songwriter” when his anthemic rocker “The Dangerous Ones” (from the 2018 Hawks and Doves album From a White Hotel) was used in a viral video that focused on the divisiveness of the country during the 2020 election year. Anderson found his song racking up millions of streams and renewed praise.

Having spent time in prison amidst a career that always saw him churning out respectable but under appreciated country-tinged rock and roll, Anderson has since embraced a new way of life that includes atoning for his sins and getting sober. Along with his newfound attention, Anderson decided to make the best of this strange moment in time and release the Let the Bloody Moon Rise, the Kurt Bloch-produced album that had been shelved during Kasey’s stints in treatment and prison. Raucous and heartfelt, the album features Anderson backed by Andrew McKeag (Presidents of the United States of America), Ty Bailie (Katy Perry), Eric Corson (The Long Winters, Perfume Genius) and Mike Musburger (The Fastbacks, the Posies) and joined by Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray), David Immergluck (Counting Crows) Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), and Tim Rogers (You Am I). The album never got a proper release until now, and the timing couldn’t be better as it seems the world is ready to embrace Anderson’s talent as a songwriter and rocker once again.

Recently, we spoke with Anderson about the album, what it means to be a “Gradually Retiring Songwriter,” working with Artists in Recovery, and the new music we can expect from him.

You’ve called yourself a “Gradually Retiring Songwriter.” Can you talk a bit about what this means?

Sure. It means I’m retiring at my own pace. I’m working on a solo record which I intend to be my last, or at least the last record for which I’ll work a real publicity campaign, tour behind, and promote. I have a full-time job, a wife, and a six-month-old daughter. If I wanted to try and sustain a career as a songwriter, my life would look very different than it does now, and I like the way my life looks now. I like that I’m around for my family, that I work in the recovery community, that I’m not locked into a label deal or anything like that. Hell, I don’t know if I could make a living as a songwriter anymore, even if I wanted to. I don’t have any desire to find out. So while I intend for this record to be my last, I might change my mind. Or I might release something else before I release this solo record. Or I might take three years off and decide I want to make a You Am I covers record with Andrew McKeag and Kurt Bloch. I have an audience that seems willing to listen to the records I release, when I do release records, and I don’t want to take that for granted but I also don’t want to feel beholden to anyone’s expectation that there’s going to be a Next Thing. There’s that Hayes Carll line, “in this line of work, no one retires,” well, I intend to prove that wrong…at some point.

What drove you to reissue Let the Bloody Moon Rise?

We’re calling it a reissue because some unmastered version of the record has existed on streaming services for several years, but this is the first official release. This is the record the way it was intended to be heard — sequenced, mastered, without a bunch of unmixed tracks, b-sides and alternate takes tacked on. This is the real record. I decided to release it now because, after “The Dangerous Ones,” I found myself with a larger audience again, one that seemed closer to the size of my audience in 2012 when we made this record so, if people were listening, I thought why not give them this record. I’m so proud of the record, and so proud of the work this band did. I wanted to do right by the band and do right by the work, and this seemed like a good opportunity for that.

I read that the album wasn’t properly released at the time. What factors contributed to it never getting its proper due?

I went to treatment, and then prison. When I was released, the time didn’t seem right, and that bootleg version was already out there. It just didn’t feel like the right thing to do until recently.

You also included a live recording as part of the reissue, but you say you have no recollection of that show. What kind of physical and mental space were you in at the time, and was it difficult to relive that time by issuing this recording?

I have substance use disorder and Type I Bipolar Disorder. At the time, both were active and I was not in any kind of treatment. I was in the kind of physical and mental space that leads someone to treatment and then incarceration, which is where I ended up about a year after we played this gig. I don’t say “I don’t remember it” as any kind of romantic thing; I do not remember playing this gig, but I was really excited to hear it. I think it’s a great document of what that band sounded like live. I’ve always wanted to be in a band like that: loose but not reckless, a band that could stretch out a bit or drill down into a song. I was very, very fortunate to get to play with Andrew McKeag, Mike Musburger, Eric Corson, Will Moore and Ty Bailie in that band. I miss it, for sure.

Were you surprised when “The Dangerous Ones” suddenly caught the attention of the public?

A little, yeah. I wrote the song in 2017, it came out on the Hawks and Doves record in 2018, and then it kinda faded quickly into obscurity, so I didn’t expect it to find the audience it did leading up to the 2020 election, but I’m glad it did. I hope it moved some people towards action beyond posting and voting and posting about voting. I’m grateful that it found people and they, in turn, found my other records. They seem to have hung around and seem willing to listen, and I’m grateful for that, too, of course.

How did you get involved in the Artist in Recovery series?

When I started at the Alano Club of Portland, Artists in Recovery was a small performance series for local artists and musicians. When things started closing up and it was clear people wouldn’t be gathering for a while, I had the idea to start inviting some of my friends in recovery to these conversations, and I thought people might want to join and listen. It turned out they did. Because everyone was home, and many people had access to Zoom, I was able to reach out to friends across the country, rather than hoping they might have an spare hour or two before soundcheck when they came through town to try and pull these conversations off. It’s been fun for me; I get to catch up with my friends, people I admire a great deal, and it seems like the people who join us to watch and listen have taken a lot from it as well. I think it did people good to learn that the people they admire were also struggling with isolation, and hear about how they’ve dealt with those challenges for the last fifteen months. I hope it made everyone feel a little bit more connected.

You’re working on new music these days. Can we expect any surprises that may be different from your previous albums?

Well, the record I’m working on now is a solo record, at least in name. It’s not a Hawks and Doves record, it’s not a … and the Honkies record. But it’s not by any stretch of the imagination a just-me-and-a-guitar record. I figured if it was going to be the last thing I did for a while, I wanted to involve as many of my friends as I could. Andrew McKeag and Will Moore from the Honkies are all over it. Portland musicians were with us for the first set of sessions — Casey Neill, Jesse Moffat, Emily Overstreet, Dave Jorgensen, Kyleen King, Rebecca and Joy from Lenore, Nathan Earle, a bunch of other friends. Then with everyone at home I started to reach out to friends and see if they wanted to add a guitar here, keyboard part there, whatever. Eric Ambel, of course. Dan Vickery from Counting Crows, Sadler Vaden from Isbell’s band, Steve Selvidge from the Hold Steady, Todd Farrell Jr., Davey Lane from You Am I, my friend Billy Mercer, on and on. The liner notes won’t be anything but credits and thank yous, and that’s how I wanted to go out, if this is indeed the last record.

Do you plan to get out and play shows when things go back to normal?

I plan to play a few this fall and a few more next year and then see where everything is at. I don’t want to be away from my family for too long, so I’ll have that in mind when I’m saying yes or no to things. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends’ bands when they come through town, though. More than anything.


Photo credit: Amber Clenaghen

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