(Editor's note: This Q&A previews a FREE Hear Nebraska/MAHA Music Festival Showcase at Duffy's on Thursday, June 30 at 9 p.m. MAHA performer The Machete Archive chose the bands Irkutsk, Her Flyaway Manner and Powerful Science to fill the bill, if you will. RSVP here.)
by Michael Todd
Tim Scahill was swamped at work when I called. It's been like this for some time now, working 60 hours a week at Roundscapes, teaching web design at ITT Tech in Omaha on the side. And playing with two bands in his "free" time, well, Tim has a busy life.
Tonight he'll add to the hustle and bustle with a free MAHA Showcase at Duffy's starting at 9. Thankfully, he has a band to support him, including the vocalist he picked out of musical obscurity, Courtney Morrow, a senior education major at UNL who Scahill praised in the interview he squeezed in over lunch. We also talked about the oncoming fall tour, why UNL students love house shows but not concerts as much and how his work informs his play.
Hear Nebraska: I have to say Courtney [Morrow]'s burp rivals that of Steven Tyler's at the end of "Eat the Rich." When did she think to use such a vocal trick?
Tim Scahill: Oh yeah, it fits the song, too. She’s a good burp-on-demand person, and she’s just a really creative lyricist.
HN: I understand she wasn't a vocalist before you started Irkutsk. How has she done so far?
TS: It’s going really well. We do a lot of call-and-response vocals on some songs, but I mostly just back her up, it’s a lot of good teamwork in the writing as well. And she also just went on tour with Pharmacy Spirits as keyboard and tambourine, too. It’s cool to see her grow.
HN: And because Irkutsk is a little less than a year old, could you give a synopsis of how the band as a whole has done so far?
TS: Well, we started as The Power, so we kind of came from that little mold already, so we had the camaraderie when we brought Courtney in. It was just finding someone who’d take the time to craft lyrics and do a little more for us at least as far as being creative and a part of the whole group.
It’s just been a dream, pretty much, working with her, and her improv has just been awesome to watch unfold when we’re writing and jamming — letting whatever comes out come out, and organize it later. Our first show was at the Slowdown, which is pretty great. So the Power laid the groundwork, so it doesn’t feel like it’s been a short time. It feels like we’ve been working toward this.
HN: I could find only two songs online. Do you plan to record and post more soon?
TS: We went to Plan C Recording for those. I was planning on maybe doing some live recording at the show tonight with the recording stuff I have. No immediate plans, so we’ll print those two songs off locally and take them on.
HN: How excited are you for the tour?
TS: Oh my god, so excited. We’re doing Minneapolis, Ames, Iowa City — talking about St. Louis, but the people we know there say not to — Lawrence, Kansas city, Omaha. So we have a nice, little 10-day excursion that we’re all super-psyched about. The last time I hit the road was with Rent Money Big, so it's been awhile.
Back in January, you posed a question on Hear Nebraska asking how to promote shows to younger UNL students or get them to come to shows. Have you found a way?
TS: House shows and parties. That’s the only time people want to show up, after-hours house shows. I haven’t seen a UNL influx, but I see more people there in general. They feel like it’s a unique experience. You can go see a show any week at the Bourbon or Duffy’s, but a good, good house show is hard to come by. I still wish that UNL would rent out the Culture Center, like Her Flyaway Manner crowd used to do.
HN: Why do you think those sorts of shows stopped happening?
TS: I don’t know, or I don’t know if more or less have been showing up. I just feel like it’s less straight student-involved. I didn't go to UNL, but most of the people that go to UNL know that go to shows now intern at Hear Nebraska (laughs).
I’d like to help start a community forum on that, see how do we get some alternative kids at shows. They’re showing up for Hood Internet and Lincoln Calling and stuff like that. So they’re out there, but I don’t know where they’re hiding. They’re probably broke, but I do know there’s other ways to see a band if you want to see.
HN: Just out of curiosity, do you plan on doing any more features for Hear Nebraska on lyricists?
TS: You know, I just did that as my first Hear Nebraska piece, and I just haven't had any time to do any other articles for Hear Nebraska. I did a show review once, but it didn't make it online. I work like 60 hours a week, I teach web design at ITT Tech in Omaha, and am in two bands.
HN: Do you take your experience at Roundscapes and apply it to your bands?
TS: Oh, sure. Definitely. I like to look at Roundscapes as a sort of grad school. I’ve worked there for maybe three years, and it’s been a dream. I learn something new every day. So when I’m doing all this social media stuff, I think this would be great for Irkutsk's Facebook page. Everything on there is branded pretty well, and I’ve got the new website up. We’ve got 230 fans, which most of ‘em don’t come to shows, but we're hoping the fall tour will help out with that.
HN: That's all for questions. Do you have anything else to add?
TS: Yeah, we’re really excited to be a part of the showcase. I love all the bands tonight. Her Flyway Manner was the first show I saw in Lincoln. I was a wide-eyed kid thinking, "This is what I want to be when I grow up," so it’s amazing to be playing a bunch of shows with HFM. And we’re happy for Machete to be playing MAHA, and Powerful Science is of course sick. So I’m just excited.
Michael Todd is a summer intern for Hear Nebraska. He didn't really say Irkutsk that many times in the interview but used his creative license to add it once or twice more when he typed it out just to seem like he knows how to pronounce it. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.