Joan of Arc versus the 'ills of the world'

The band Joan of Arc will play Tuesday at Mojo’s.

By Angie Andera | Oct. 29, 2010

Tags: Concerts Music

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Joan of Arc the saint felt she was called to take up arms and fight for France. Joan of Arc the band felt it was called to take up instruments instead.

“The whole spiritual warrior dimension is, of course, enticing to young men ready to take on all the ills of the world with guitars,” band guitarist and vocalist Tim Kinsella said.

Joan of Arc will be performing Tuesday at Mojo’s, one of many shows the band is set to perform around the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia through the spring. The band has been working on writing a new album with a new approach as well.

“We've been writing our new record,” Kinsella said. “We are playing these songs live a lot before recording them, which is a new approach for us, but one that makes so much more sense than the industry standard of record release cycles.”

Reminiscent of its namesake’s struggle for French freedom, Joan of Arc’s music often echoes similar subjects.

“Dominant themes tend to emerge -- the constant struggle for freedom, finding value in struggle itself, constant engagement in the world,” Kinsella said. “We are all just trying to express, in the purest means possible, our experience as sentient beings. You know, express the inexpressible.”

Accompanying Kinsella are fellow band members Victor Villarreal on guitar, Bobby Burg on bass and Theo Katsaounis on drums. Together they create a unique sound, combining the qualities of electronics and samples with the very different quality of the acoustic guitar. Kinsella said the band’s experimental yet signature sound is primal prog-rock.

“We talk a lot at practice about the first caveman to have ever been aware of a sunrise, how that felt,” Kinsella said. “We wanna sound like that.”

Joan of Arc’s lyrics often reflect honest struggles and real world situations, which is a genre Kinsella labeled as a tragicomedy.

“I seed most of the songs, but they blossom according to who else is around, circumstances,” Kinsella said. “Our songs are mostly love songs, the impossibility of love under the crushing weight of consumer capitalism.”

Despite this somewhat serious tone, the band still remains positive in its outlook.

“I would say we, as a group, generally laugh a lot,” Kinsella said. “It's a bleak scenario, life on earth. We appreciate joy.”

But life for Joan of Arc is not always a laughing matter.

“We are all grown men with the same problems any adult copes with -- deaths of loved ones, relationships ending, unhealthy dependencies,” Kinsella said. “These are not unique to being in a band, but maybe a lot of bands break up while the people are still younger. So it might be uncommon for bands to have to deal with the real struggles of adult life.”

Even in the face of such challenges, Kinsella finds being a musician to be worthwhile.

“I enjoy band practice the most, writing and arranging things as a group,” Kinsella said. “Performing live isn't particularly a thrill to me all the time. But when I occasionally get a sense that maybe someone present has had some kind of true experience that helps to break apart what calcifications day-to-day life have imposed on them, that is very rewarding. Not sure how often it happens, but when it does it makes it all meaningful.”

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