For those of you that don’t know, JKutchma‘s new record, Blue Highways, is one 40 minute long track encompassing nine songs. It also cuts off abruptly at the end, in the middle of a chorus. All of this is by design, as you would expect from a canny veteran like Kutchma. I got the chance to talk to him about the record last week here in New Orleans, and immediately relayed the conversation to the Ninebullets writing staff before the Miller High Life washed it all away. With Jason’s permission, here’s the method behind the madness of Blue Highways:
First off, the length. The 40 minute run time of the record is designed to evoke the 40 minutes surrounding a sunrise or sunset, from the time the sky begins to change until it regains its uniformity. Much like myself, it seems, Kutchma endeavors to begin road trips before everything is fixed in place. Even if the actual rising or setting only takes 3 minutes, the change from day to night takes much longer, and that kind of transformation is what he wanted to capture.
Then there’s the single track nature of the album. Releasing the record as a single track is something Kutchma had been wrestling with since its conception. When he was debating whether or not to release the record in two versions (one 40 minutes long and one track, one divided into tracks), he heard a conversation on a music podcast he respects a lot. They were talking about an artist they’d seen at SXSW: this artist (Le Butcherettes) was so hard to find now, that to buy a record you couldn’t go to iTunes or Amazon…you had to actually go to their website. That was when Kutchma decided, in his own words, “Fuck everyone in the universe. I’m doing what I want.” If people think going to a website is so difficult, if they need art handed to them on a silver platter, they don’t deserve it.
Later, a blog asked him for individual tracks to promote the album. He weighed the idea of releasing singles, and asked his wife Beth (seen at the Holiday Hangout playing bass for Red Collar in pearls) about it. She told him, “If you want to do that just because it’s what’s done, then it’s not your artistic vision. You’re only doing it because it’s what people want, and that’s not who you are.” That sound advice settled the matter for him. If you like a song on this record, but don’t like it enough to open up garage band or audacity and select and save the track as a new mp3 yourself…you probably don’t like it as much as you think you do.
And that is the summation I can give you of my conversation with the indescribably cool JKutchma and his stellar wife Beth.
Ninebullets has a review of Blue Highways coming down the pipeline, but in the meantime you can pick it up in digital form from his Bandcamp, or nab a fancy version of the release from the Last Chance Records Store.