Miles Kurosky, former lead of indie heroes Beulah, will be appearing this Monday, 3/29/10 at the Brillobox (see show preview here or below). He was kind enough to give us an interview touching on a broad range of subjects from his connection to Pittsburgh, health care and his new album. I have seen Miles play with Beulah a few times and he is not someone to miss. Great charisma and showmanship. Try to catch the concert Monday, you won't regret it.
You had several health issues the past 5 years. What were you doing to stay active?
I was pretty much staying at home for 2 years. I was dealing with a lot of problems physically. I spent a good year or more just rehabbing my shoulder. Then I was diagnosed with intestinal disease that leads to chronic kidney problems which required multiple surgeries. I was hovering between a pain killer haze and depressed state. When your body lets you down you have no say in the matter. It just happens. You have to roll with it. I was using a turkey baser to clean areas.
I read a past interview, when you were with Beulah, stating you didn't have health insurance and were bartering cd's with friendly doctors. Did you have health insurance during these surgeries?
Yeah. After that tour I bought health insurance, although it was quite expensive, over $300 a month. Think about that, I am a working class musician that is paying over $4,000 for health care. That is a big chunk of change to make sure you are healthy.
I am sure the health issues brought on some firsthand knowledge of our health care system. With that experience (and such a controversial topic these days) what is your feeling on our healthcare system?
Yes. Everyone should have it, it's ludicrous they don't. It seems so simple to me. It's funny that people fight it. The reason so many people are uninsured, and we are talking about employed Americans, is because it's too expensive. In America, the majority are working class people that have to prop up the rest of us, where they think it's the rich people propping up the poor. The right has brainwashed the working that being helped out is Communism, Marxism or its evil. They have turned their Jesus into some gun toting Wal-Mart shopping tool.
I read your family is originally from the Pittsburgh area. Is that correct?
Pittsburgh is where my family is from; they were a long line of steel workers. I actually grew up in Los Angeles but my Pittsburgh roots run deep. My mom is Polish and was born in Poland before moving to Chicago. My Dad grew up in what he called Hunky town (Carnegie area) which is all Eastern European Hungarians, Slavics. My grandfather came to Pittsburgh from Russia (with many other children)at age 10 as a child laborer. No one knows if they were given up or sold by their parents. They came over and were integrated into this area of Pittsburgh. My grandfather became a steelworker and my dad did as well. I am a huge Steelers fan. We actually fly back to Pittsburgh to watch games with my wife and dad. My dad loves coming back to Pittsburgh and telling stories of where he drank and caroused.
Will you be touring with a full band? Are any former members from Beulah?
Yes. I'm not showing up with an acoustic, no way. Two of the five members are former Beulah members. Eli Crews is playing with us who helped record the record and was in the second half of Beulah. Patrick Abernethy will also be in the band. He was in Beulah before. After we broke up he joined Rogue Wave for a time. He then left Rogue Wave to start his own band Pancho-San who will be opening for us on this tour and then he will be joining my band (after his set is complete). It's always best to go out with your friends or help out your friends instead of playing with a bunch of strangers.
In Beulah, I read the process of creating music was to write the music first and then the lyrics. It appears that you did the opposite with this solo album. Would that be accurate?
No I think it's still like the other. I come up with melodies first and labor over lyrics. With the music I will hear the chords and construct a melody in my head. I sing it acapella to build the structure out. With lyrics I will have things scribbled but never in poetic form without the music prior. When I had the bum shoulder I couldn't play but was building the music and singing it out.
Would you consider this a more positive record after Yoko (Beulah's last album)? You went through a messy breakup when that album came out.
I think the lyrics are dark on this record but not necessarily that they lack hope. I express dark feelings but I hope there is a positivity, that there is a since of salvation and deliverance at the end of the record. I hope that there is hope.
Did you create the album artwork? It's really interesting.
Camm Rowland actually did it who is an artist in Chicago. It's actually a physical piece he built out from a photo. It's a three dimensional piece where each section is screwed into the next piece. It's a box with art inside.
The insert has a couple that is stripping down between the folded frames with ski masks over their heads. Is this you? Is there any significance behind it?
The woman is actually a model. And the man could quite possibly be me (laughing). I just thought it would be fun and aesthetically pleasing with provocative images. You'll notice the name in there says "MLK" Miles Lawrence Kurosky.
"Dog in the Burning Building" is a fantastic video. Could you say what the song represents? Means?
The video is done by the Krause brothers who are amazing. It's one of the best videos I have seen out. I guess at the end of the day it's about feeling trapped in a certain sense. But at the same time the dog finds the right woman and the feeling is you can still be saved through personal interactions and love. In the same way it's also a trap of believing in the sense that something is going to save you. Putting too much loyalty in someone.
I always wanted to ask you, The Coast Is Never Clear (Beulah album) came out on the same day 9/11 happened. Did you have a release party scheduled? Or any other plans?
We were actually supposed to play in New York two days later. Commercially it was devastating. The label and management felt that this was going to be the breakout record. I wouldn't necessarily blame that failure on 9/11. Indie hadn't really broken yet; we weren't living in a post-Arcade Fire world.
Were you ok with the success Beulah reached?
Yeah, with pre-Shins, Garden State, pre-MySpace, pitchfork…we did better than most but not as good as some. The only thing you could aspire to back then was to be as big as Pavement. At that time Pavement wasn't as big as Death Cab, Arcade Fire or The Shins those kinds of bands.