Indie rock cult icon Tim Kinsella has done it again. His new Chicago-based band, Make Believe, is composed of past and present members of bands such as Cap’n Jazz, Owls and Joan of Arc, all of which have gained both critical acclaim and a flock of loyal fans who have followed Kinsella and crew since their teenage years in Cap’n Jazz.
[bandpic] The four members of Make Believe are actually the 2003 touring manifestation of Joan of Arc, a band which is constantly enduring member changes. The boys – consisting of Bobby Burg on bass, Nate Kinsella on drums/wurlitzer, Sam Zurick on guitar and Kinsella on vocals – decided they wanted to move away from the mix-match, start-stop eccentricity of Joan of Arc and make a band which could sound the same live as they did on a recording, keep a consistent lineup and put in over 40 hours a week practicing.
Although every member of Make Believe came from fellow indie band Joan of Arc, the difference between the two is easily recognizable. “We distinguish between the bands just as much in terms of process as we do in terms of what the actual output or sound is,” Kinsella said. “Make Believe practices and writes songs, and we all know who does what. Joan of Arc hangs out and records piles. Maybe it could be described as Make Believe is like a sculptor that starts with nothing, and adds material to the shapes he’s already imagining. Versus Joan of Arc, which is like a sculptor that starts with a big block of material and whittles away at it and waits to see what pops out of the shape.”
In 2004, the band released a self-titled EP, as well as a limited edition two-song 7″ album on Chicago-based Flameshovel Records. According to Jesse Woghin, who, along with James Kenler, owns Flameshovel, Make Believe is “taking everything that you might expect, breaking it down into pieces and building it back up again.”
While using the same basic instruments of rock music, the band tries to delve into the most creative parts of its imagination. “It makes you feel good to be alive,” Woghin said.
[jesse] The driving, sometimes heavy, sometimes jangling guitar melodies, mixed with the crash cymbal-laden drum beats carry the album musically. What stands out, though, is Kinsella’s exercising his distinct vocal style: part melodic singing, part yelping screams and always clever lyrics. It is a sort of new form of punk rock where the musicians know more about how to play their instruments and aren’t afraid to use catchy melodies and experiment with different sounds every once in a while. It’s hard to pin down the band into one genre, with songs like “We’re All Going to Die” bringing about an aggressive side of the band, while the contrasting “Temping as a Shaman” is more upbeat.
So, what is it that inspires Make Believe to write their music? Kinsella says he is inspired by “my ears, my hands, my heartbeat, my brain, corporate fascism, consumer culture alienating the individual from him/herself, my mom, my wife, working, a big cold loft space, pondering concepts of time, what is the nature of my consciousness, etc.”
Woghin feels that Make Believe brings a different feel to the indie rock scene: “[They are] a much more visceral experience. There’s a different sort of feel, a sense of aggression, a sense of fun.”
Theatre freshman Casey Taubitz is enthusiastic about Make Believe. “I like [Joan of Arc], but it takes a while to understand and get the feel for their music because it’s more experimental,” she said. “You have to give it a while. The music isn’t really the same so much. It really grows on you.”
[cover] The band is happy with the music they are making and with the niche they have carved in the indie community. “We will continue to do what we do, because it is a good life,” Kinsella said. “We enjoy hanging out together every day, and making weird stuff, and surprising each other, and fighting each other and making each other laugh.”
“I think they would exude a lot of energy,” Taubitz said of her interest in seeing a live performance.
Make Believe is currently playing a handful of shows around the Midwest, making a stop at Mac’s Bar in Lansing on Feb. 20, along with Lee Marvin Computer Arm, Shipwrecked and Javelins. Make Believe’s self-titled EP is available at Flat, Black and Circular in East Lansing, or online at www.flameshovel.com .
The band is planning to start on their new full-length album in March with producer Steve Albini, who has worked with The Pixies, PJ Harvey and Nirvana. A tentative release has been slated for June. Simply put, “It’s going to be good,” Woghin said.

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