Make Believe
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Make Believe


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The best kept secret in music


A swinging alternative to the Windy City's neo-trad scene is provided by Make! Believe!, whose second single, "The Vampire's Lament To His Nurse/Each Day Is Different And The Same As Cocks" (Flameshovel 7") is an ass-flattener. Reminding me of a whole generation of lost children of Beefheart and also the early work of The Scene Is Now, this record is really quite wonderful, surging into unexpected places with a rhythmic grace and sophistication that belies close attention to the works of Mayo Thompson. - Wire

Make Believe, a quartet helmed by Joan of Arc's Tim Kinsella, pick up where his short-lived band Owls left off (guitarist Sam Zurick is the other holdover). Judging from their self-titled five-song debut on Flameshovel, this is the hardest rocking group Kinsella's been involved with since emo juggernaut Cap'n Jazz. He's at his most demonstrative, blitzing through his elliptical lyrics with his voice cracking or opening up into a raw, urgent scream; Zurick, bassist Bobby Burg, and drummer Nate Kinsella unleash a pounding attack filled with logic-defying grooves that double back on themselves and swallow their own tails.
-- Peter Margasak - Chicago Reader

Worst Album of the Month
Worst Cover of the Month
Rating: 0

And the winner of the Gayest-Press-Release-I-Have-Ever-Seen award goes to... Make Believe! It's just another one of what must be 5,000 permutations of the perpetually boring Joan of Arc, except this time it's supposed to be all stripped down and raw (or something). Hence, this shit stain of a press release. "They talked about how their new band should operate and used the experiences of all their past bands to correct mistakes from the get go and apply the lessons learned." Here's bullet point number 6: "songs would have to speak for the collective not the individual singer," and point number 5: "No over-dubs." Then they reach this amazing conclusion: "Now relieved by Make Believe of rocking out impulses, Joan of Arc is free to be as pretty and far out as it can. The two bands balance each other." Pretentious bullshit from half-assed self-important hacks pretending to be art rockers. Dear fags, if you want to play in a band, just fucking shut up and do it.
-- Jerry McPheerson - Vice

Though the band comprises the last touring incarnation of Joan of Arc, Make Believe has eschewed their former band's arty, indie subtleties in lieu of a guitar-driven, post-emo posture similar to Minus the Bear, minus the puerile vocals. Intricate guitar parts (unhindered by effects boxes or overdubbing) create jazzy, often droning walls of sound matched by washes of cymbals and propulsive bass. On "Britt's Favorite," singer Tim Kinsella yelps, "If the radio is any kind of indication I guess they only got God and sports in Bakersfield." Though he goes on to admit he's no good at sports, Kinsella claims he's got a way with God. Between the quirkiness of Kinsella's lyrixs and the band's jittery playing, Make Believe is putting a new spin on the rock formula, creating something that's both musically daring and enjoyable.
-- Kory Grow - Rockpile

"Schizophrenic Rock:
Make Believe frontman Tim Kinsella puts his multiple personalities on display."
by Jeff Inman

A few months ago, Joan of Arc frontman Tim Kinsella was sitting in a small Chicago diner having lunch. Nothing fancy, just hanging with three of his friends and more-than-occasional bandmates, the group deciding to take a break from recording for some grub. On the way in, Kinsella picked up one of the local weeklies to check the weekend concerts. The newspaper also sported a review of the self-titled debut EP of his latest band, Make Believe, which happened to consist of the guys sitting across from him—brother and drummer Nate, bassist Bobby Burg, and guitarist and longtime co-conspirator Sam Zurick. According to the reviewer, it didn’t even matter that they existed.

“The whole thing was about how much of a smart guy I am and how much of a genius I am, and I’m looking across the table at the other three guys who do the really hard stuff. I’m just the guy who yells,” Kinsella says. “I made some joke that I called the writer and told him that I was the boss of everyone and I write everything. But I feel funny as the guy who always gets pointed out. I get more credit than I deserve.”

Not that Kinsella doesn’t deserve some. He was the principal behind Chicago’s legendary Cap N’ Jazz, the band some herald, along with Sunny Day Real Estate, as the emo apex. When that group split up in 1994, he quickly became the hub of Joan of Arc, an ongoing art-rock experiment that reduces collective thinking into tape-loop ecstasy and post-rock noise. There have also been solo side trips, favor bands like A-Set, boredom projects like Friend/Enemy, a Chicago post-rock supergroup called Sky Corvair and an excursion under the name Owls, which was basically Cap N’ Jazz minus one guy. Anyone with that kind of résumé deserves some props.

But the genius tag: Not something Kinsella is into, and if people are going to call him that, it’s strictly due to proximity. “As far as the emo thing goes—and this goes for everything else, too—I was there when a lot of other people were working on something long before people were even aware of it. It’s not all me.”

If anything, the blame should be put on the warehouse Kinsella calls home. It acts as not only a crash pad for a massive group of musicians, but also as a recording studio when everyone wakes up. And there’s always somebody putting something on tape. Players float in and out of projects constantly. Ideas are dancing around. Something is perpetually clanging. The genius is making sense of it all.

“A lot of times, with Joan of Arc at least, it’s whoever wants to come over and play. The record we just released [a self-titled EP on Flameshovel Records] has 10 people on it,” he says. “This just works for us, lifestyle-wise rather than band-career-wise. We’ve been accidentally and subconsciously working towards this for years.”

Even so, Make Believe is probably one of the more traditional bands Kinsella has ever captained. Whereas Joan of Arc’s songs are sussed out on tape, different people adding layer upon layer, Make Believe has defined roles, practices, and actually writes music. Not that big of a deal, except everyone in Make Believe is also in Joan of Arc.

But it makes all the difference. Make Believe is a tight wall of colorful post-rock bricks glued together by some guitar heroics and the kind of pop tendencies Kinsella usually eschews. If it weren’t for a long intro and Kinsella’s lament about the state of radio in America—“They’ve only got guys and sports”— “Britt’s Favorite” is probably the most radio-friendly thing he’s done in years. “Temping as a Shaman” is the Dismemberment Plan retooled as a Guitar World cover band. And “We’re All Going to Die” manages to bang a captivating groove out of a chaotic finger-tapped riff. Compare that with other Kinsella work and it’s damned near TRL-ready. He says the reason is that he really had nothing to do with it.

“When we started the Make Believe sessions, Sam had about 50 songs just sitting around. Then Nate came along and straightened them out, made them more musical. In this one, I’m really just the singer guy.” - Salt Lake City Weekly


S/T CDEP [Flameshovel 2004]
The Pink 7" [Flameshovel 2004]
Shock of Being [Flameshove 08.23.05]


Feeling a bit camera shy


“This the first time I’ve been able to be in a band that feels like [the band] I’ve always wanted to be in, just in terms of mutual enthusiasm you know?” says Make Believe frontman Tim Kinsella. “I wish I could have started this project ten years ago, it would have saved me a lot of trouble.”

Instead of resting on the laurels of their previous acts (Joan Of Arc, Owls, Ghosts & Vodka, etc.), Make Believe fearlessly forge ahead, connecting the dots between avant-indie acts like US Maple and Polvo with the emotion of say Minor threat all the while sounding absolutely nothing like any of the above. In other words, Make Believe are just four really talented dudes in their 20s trying to reinvent punk rock the only way they know how.

Shock Of Being, recorded at Chicago’s Electrical Audio studio with Steve Albini, finds Make Believe’s first full-length both illusive and strangely accessible: Zurick’s unorthodox guitar riffs sound like the soundtrack to an alternative-universe video game, while drummer Nate Kinsella alternately holds things together or tears them apart. In the meantime, bassist Bobby Burg lays down the low end, while Tim Kinsella spits out pointed phrases that act less like a narrative voice and more like a dynamic instrument unto itself. And that’s the first 30 seconds of the first song.

In the last year alone, Make Believe played 125 shows and released a well-received 5-song EP, confounding audiences with a live set that can only be described as volatile. The band hammers it out on stage with a total sense of abandon, Tim Kinsella undulates up front while cousin Nate plays double duty with both his drum kit and simultaneously providing the Wurlitzer's skronk and squelch. Recalls bassist Burg of a recent performance, “…Tim’s microphone cord got caught underneath a microphone stand, and it flew up in the air and hit me in the head. I got knocked-out and had to go the hospital. We only played for, like, 15 seconds.”

More recently, Make Believe finished up lengthy tours with indie-darlings The Good Life, the dastardly dudes in Hella, and Kill Rock Stars’ ever earnest Paper Chase, proving that while their music can be incredibly complex, it isn’t solely a one dimensional party. “Generally speaking, it seems like we’ve gotten really good responses from anyone we’ve played for,” Kinsella continues. “A lot of people seem to be telling us this is the best thing we’ve done, and a lot of people who had sort of given up on JOA seem to be into it.”

However, there’s only so much a one-page bio can tell you about a band. The best way to begin to understand Make Believe is to open the jewel case on your desk, pop in the disc and turn it up. Love it or hate it, we promise Shock Of Being won’t sound like anything else you’ve ever heard before.

So, what are you waiting for?