The Sad Bastard
"It's a lot cheaper than a therapist," says Kellen Wenrich, wryly describing the inspiration behind his new ‘The Sad Bastard EP,' out May 5, released under his new moniker Kellen of Troy.
After years as a sideman based in Nashville, Wenrich was finally driven to strike out as a songwriter when his long-time band, The Apache Relay, called it quits. "If you're ever looking for a good way to loose some friends, stop being in a - even if only mildly - successful band," he says. "A lot of people will drop out of your life real quick."
"When I finally started writing, it was mostly work on my self-assuredness. I was going through two breakups, one with an ex and one with a band, and that digs up a lot of dirt. I figured writing would be a healthy coping mechanism," he explains.
The transition to becoming a solo artist didn't come easily, at first. "I was more comfortable as a side man, focusing on making other people's ideas more interesting rather than address my own," he says. "Writing songs is intimidating. You've got to stand behind them till death-do-you-part, and then some. You can wash your hands of a show or record if you're just the auxiliary guy. Putting out your opinions and emotions lyrically and literally is a tall order, and not for the faint of heart."
On the 'Sad Bastard EP,' Wenrich truly finds his own sound, playing guitar, bass, piano, and violin throughout the album. As with the album title, his songs often focus on his personal struggles with a biting sense of self awareness and tongue-in-cheek lightheartedness.
"It's a tone I hear in a lot of music from the 60s. Think of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bye, Bye Love" or "Cecilia." The melody sounds like something you'd whistle while skipping down the streets of Candy Land," he says. “But there's nothing joyful about the words ‘Bye bye love, bye bye happiness, hello loneliness, I think I'm gonna cry’. I find myself drawn to that duality. It's like the comedy/tragedy masks."
"Happy music with a happy message is too praise-and-worshippy. And moody, melancholy music with a sad story is too often boring, unconvincing and self-indulgent. I think songs hit harder if they combine both sides of the coin." Kellen of Troy will celebrate the album release in Chicago at Schuba's on 5/8 and Nashville at ACME on 5/9. More dates TBA soon.