Self-Portrait: Tim Kinsella and Melina Ausikaitis of Joan of Arc | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Self-Portrait: Tim Kinsella and Melina Ausikaitis of Joan of Arc

The Rearranger and the Painter

Sep 24, 2018 Joan of Arc Photography by Tim Kinsella and Melina Ausikaitis Bookmark and Share

For our recurring Self-Portrait feature we ask a musician to take a self-portrait photo (or paint/draw a self-portrait) and write a list of personal things about themselves, things that their fans might not already know about them. This Self-Portrait is by two members of Joan of Arc, Tim Kinsella and Melina Ausikaitis.

Joan of Arc formed in 1995, rising from the ashes of Kinsella’s previous band, Cap’n Jazz. The lineup has been in flux over the years, with Kinsella the sole permanent member. The band’s current lineup is Kinsella, Ausikaitis, Theo Katsaounis, Bobby Burg, and Jeremy Boyle. Founding member Boyle rejoined the band in 2016 after originally leaving in 2005 and the others have been with Joan of Arc for several years, with Burg dating back to 2004.

The band’s latest album, 1984, came out back in June via Joyful Noise. Unlike previous albums, Kinsella stepped aside as lead vocalist, with Ausikaitis taking on the role and also writing the lyrics. Ausikaitis is also a visual artist, as evidenced by her self-portrait, and painted the cover art for 1984. In honor of the album’s release, Joyful Noise adapted George Orwell’s classic novel of the same name, 1984, changing the setting to the band’s native Chicago and changing the main character names to the names of the band members. It was briefly posted online.

A press announcing the album described it in vivid detail: “The songs of 1984with lyrics written and sung by Melinaare a revelation, as profound and plainspoken as parables. Like the album’s striking hand drawn cover art, the music inside is often spare. Ausikaitis’ lyrics are equally measured with wit, despair and stubborn perseverance. Long known as a visual and conceptual artist and curator in her hometown of Chicago, Ausikaitis brings a painterly eye to these moments of clarity: There is awkward sex at Grandma’s house. There are kids in the snow wearing cop sunglasses and the crumbling psychic defenses of childhood memories. There are A-frame houses and white horses. There are trucks losing their brakes on the hill at the end of the street. There are heaps of thoroughly useful self-help advice (‘stop chicken-shittin’ all over your life’ has become a personal mantra).”

Read on as Kinsella writes about his morning routine, his diet, his sleeping patterns, and how crowds freak him out. Then Ausikaitis writes about her art, when she first worked with Kinsella, and how she helped name her niece.

Tim Kinsella:

1. Immediately upon waking every morning I write for 20 minutes, half reflecting on the previous day and half on the day ahead. I feel super-agitated if this is delayed for any reason and the last time I missed a day was summer 2014.

2. Six mornings a week I go straight to the gym for an hour. Without noticing, I used to put on and lose 10 pounds every year and the extra 10 was always uncomfortable. And I need that hour with headphonesmusic, podcasts, audible. I’ve been obsessive about consciously reprogramming my mind since I was a psychonaut teenager and this is my preferred means for the last five years.

3. Thursday mornings I skip the gym and see my therapist Bill. I’ve seen a lot of therapists over the years, but Bill is the first one that’s ever stuck. It’s been six years and I cannot imagine my life without him.

4. I always have a Xanax in my pocket like “Break Glass in Case of Emergency.” I haven’t taken one in years unless I’m stepping on to an airplane, but five times a day I think I’m about to pop it.

5. For a full year I ate chicken and brown rice and green beans at least twice a day. If I eat one cheeseburger then I’ll eat a cheeseburger every day for a week. I often go through phases of not changing my shirt for a year.

6. If I’m lucky, one night a week I’ll sleep a continuous seven hours. Most nights I sleep three hours, putz around for 90 minutes, then sleep another two.

7. I rearrange my living room and my studio every month. It’s never scheduled or even foreseen, but when a creative block hits, I find rearranging the furniture is a practical move with psychological and spiritual benefits.

8. Crowds freak me out horribly: rush hour trains, stadiums, street fairs, music festivals, and crowded movie theatersno way!

9. I was an altar boy as a kid. However critical I am of religion and the church as dark, cynical, and oppressive political forces, I can’t help but see Catholic iconography and mythology as profoundly meaningful symbolic models. I am by no means suggesting that I am somehow secretly religious in any contemporary American sense. Fuck all that bullshit 100%. I just mean that as far as codes for ancient wisdom go, it pulls me in every time.

10. I have dinner with my friend Joe every Wednesday night. It’s my only ongoing and active friendship that is not based on some kind of creative collaboration.

Melina Ausikaitis:

1. My self-portrait was painted in 1994 (I think). I pierced my eyebrow with a safety pin later that year. My big sister Simaya coached me over the phone.

2. Reckless Records just gave me tickets to go see Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters this morning. I love Reckless Records!

3. Another sister, Aurelia, took my suggestion and named her baby daughter Alita after one of my favorite comic books, Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro. She’s a cyborg.

4. Back in high school I used to talk on the phone for hours with my friend Scott. He knew how to play “Boys Don’t Cry” on his guitar and played it over and over again while we talked.

5. I don’t paint with oils anymore and I miss it. It smells really good.

6. I have three art studios. This is just one of the great things about living in Chicago.

7. My friend Chandler McWilliams and I are collaborating on a piece for an art show with the Los Angeles Nomadic Division. I was psyched to discover the event is being hosted by Lisa Edelstein. I’m a fan of the FOX drama, House.

8. The first project Tim Kinsella and I worked on together was a two-part performance I created in grad school. First, a naked figure drawing model walked along a wall hung with my drawings and disappeared into a dark room. Then everyone followed her into the dark room where Tim provided percussive elements and I sang a song called “Life Sucks.” Super deep.

9. I am bartending at the Rainbo Club tonight. I get to play the music. At some point during the night I usually play Cypress Hill. The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” is a great song to put on for a bathroom break.

10. My first pair of Air Force Ones came in the mail this week. They look like Luke Skywalker on Tatooine.

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