When Shawn Kilroy began playing guitar and writing songs in ninth grade, he was admittedly perplexed. “I couldn’t reconcile my love of the Beatles with my love of Bauhaus,” he says. “They seemed so far apart and so totally different from one another, and I felt like a phony if I admitted I liked both of them as much as I did.”
More than a decade later, with three solo albums under his belt, his view has shifted. “Now I don’t have that problem. Now I see the connection and I also don’t give a shit if they’re connected or not.”
Kilroy released the third installment of his trilogy, Hessian Love Songs , earlier this year. The new album is a collection of love songs written for a full band, while the second in the series, Kilroy says, featured songs about “hateful shit” written as a solo electronic project. The first was “more new-agey and spiritual.”
And yet, there is a common thread between them, an incredible conglomeration of influences from electro-synth like Ladytron to gothic folk a la Nick Cave to the classic rock of bands like the Who and maybe even Journey.
There’s also, Kilroy says, sadness. “I think I can be a melancholy person and so it’s always in there. Even a song like ‘Full Moon’ [off Hessian Love Songs ]—which is pretty freaking cheery—has some lyrical content about the end of the world. I think I probably got into music to try to be less sad, to have a place to put the sadness. There’s a fundamental core of sadness to me. But in day-to-day living, I think I’m one of the more easy-going people I know and I think I’m kind of upbeat. I owe it all to music, for sure.” ■
Wed., Dec. 23, 7pm. $8. With Lillie Ruth Bussey + a stick & a stone. North Star Bar, 27th and Poplar sts. 215.787.0488. northstarbar.com