It’s a wonderful life


Good Life and Big Harp
When: 9 p.m. Sept. 6
Where: Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington
Admission: $14-$16

By Claire Dietz
[email protected]

Eight years and 250 miles separate Nebraska-based band the Good Life from the last time it played in Iowa City. The album Everybody’s Coming Down now brings the folk-rock band back to Iowa City.

The Good Life and Big Harp will play Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St., at 9 p.m. Sept. 6. It will be the last stop on the first leg of the Good Life’s first tour in eight years.

What started as a side project for frontman Tim Kasher to make music that did not necessarily fall into the sound his band Cursive made, Good Life eventually grew into an entity of its own. Now the accidental-hiatus caused by everyone’s busy schedules is over, and the members are touring once more.

Ryan Fox, who provides not only vocals but also guitars, keyboards, and electronic percussion, described the album as “a little more direct, noisier” than earlier albums.

“We set out to do more of an electric-guitar record,” Fox said. “It represents where we are as people and as a band. It does differ from the earlier work, but I think if we had done a record every two years, it would really feel more gradual.”

Though Gabe’s and Yacht Club have had hip-hop, metal, and punk musicians perform, “the jam-band music has been our bread and butter,” said Gabe’s general manager Pete McCarthy.

“We try not to be genre-specific at Gabe’s or the Yacht Club,” McCarthy said. “The Yacht Club leans more toward the jam-band scene, but we still try to mix things up. Gabe’s roots have always been on the heavier side of music, but we have in the past four-plus years brought in all different genres.”

The Good Life members, now that they are back on tour, were all too happy to come back to Iowa City, Fox said. Touring was great for the band and himself personally, he said.

“Getting to travel and see[ing] old friends is really fun,” Fox said. “People who we don’t see all that often, to travel and run into them in various cities.

“It’s really nice when we come to a place we haven’t been in a while,” he said. “People come out and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I drove from wherever to see you guys play, I haven’t seen you play in eight years.’ You know? Just that really positive reaction is awesome and fun for us.”

The bassist and keyboardist for Good Life, Stefanie Drootin-Senseney, will pull double-duty that night; she and husband Chris Senseney also will play in their band Big Harp.

Once they were married, Senseney said, “it was pretty natural to start making music together.”

The thrash-pop band’s sound “doesn’t really mean anything,” Drootin-Senseney said.

“It’s really just a dude and a lady singing over fast, fuzzed-out rock music,” Drootin-Senseney said. “For now, anyways; we change a lot.”

The two are proud of their newest album, Waveless, which came out in August.

“We love it,” Senseney said. “It’s our favorite Big Harp album so far, and the first one that really sounds like music we’d be fans of. It’s definitely different from our other records; we started out playing basically folk music, which was kind of an experiment for both of us, and a departure from what we’d done before, and now we’ve come back to making looser, weirder, louder stuff.”

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