Tears of Silver plays Good Records on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Ken Stringfellow has pretty much done it all. He's played stadiums and festivals as a co-founding member of the power pop band the Posies and a touring member of R.E.M. and Big Star; he's also worked as a solo artist and a producer. His new project with members of Mercury Rev and Denton-based Midlake has him in our neck of the woods and playing shows at smaller, nontraditional venues such as Good Records.
“I was in a more collaborative kind of vibe at this moment,” Stringfellow says, speaking to the Dallas Observer from his summer home in France.
Stringfellow's work with Jon Auer in the Posies is ongoing, but he says it's good for them to branch out and do other projects, which is where Tears of Silver comes in. The band — which also includes Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak, Jonathan Donahue and Jesse Chandler — writes songs together and performs them, along with hits from the members' other creative endeavors, in record stores, homes, garages and warehouses. For the Dallas show, Jenn Penn from the Polyphonic Spree will join Tears of Silver.
Stringfellow is enjoying showing his fans a side of himself that he's never explored creatively. He's best known as a power pop musician, but lately his music with Tears of Silver — and other acts such as Holly Muñoz, the Disciples and Marky Ramone — shows he has a knack for country and punk rock, too.
“I’m always trying to mix it up and also show that there’s more than one dimension to me, musically,” he says. “It's a constant battle that I fight — why I fight that battle, I don’t know. I have a wide range of interests. My interests and record collection has always been pretty broad.”
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But Stringfellow isn't trying to distance himself from his past work. He’s happy to answer questions about R.E.M., Big Star or the Posies. He tell us the Posies never re-recorded the Beatles’ White Album, putting that longstanding rumor to rest.
His presence is a direct contrast to the late Alex Chilton, whom Stringfellow played with in Big Star. Chilton had an uneasy relationship with fame and would walk away from fans who wanted to talk about the band. But Stringfellow doesn't believe it's always best to give fans what they want. For example, it would be easy for him and Auer to assemble a new rhythm section and tour the best-known Posies material year after year.
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“I don’t want to give people the same thing again, exactly the same way,” he says. “I think that’s cheating, personally. Even though some people might be happy with it, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. I think it’s right to work up a new thing.”
With Tears of Silver, Stringfellow is enjoying bringing music to the people who care in an intimate way. He's hoping the band will do more recording and that other acts will follow suit.
“I hope people will follow me on the path,” he says. “It’s not trying to screw things up or destroy my legacy. That’s not what I’m here to do. I’m just trying to make it interesting for everybody.”
Tears of Silver, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, Good Records, 1808 Lower Greenville Ave., $20 to $100, eventbrite.com.