Photo: Jade Sadler

Ethan Tasch

The country-oriented star talks new album 'Got Him!'

“This was my second interview,” said Ethan Tasch, at the conclusion of a short but impactful conversation backstage before a recent performance at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, NY. “Not just today, like… ever.” Tasch, an LA-based singer-songwriter, is certainly more reserved than friends and collaborators within the indie pop community such as spill tab and Boyish, but has a naturally engaging sense of humor to him that comes across both onstage and off.

Tasch, who serves as Bea Miller’s touring guitarist and contributes to the work of other artists within his circle, is well established within the scene in his own right. Breakout singles “Room” and “GPS, the latter featuring Felly, have amassed massive streaming numbers, and his debut album, Got Him!, is out now.

Classic Country 

Despite his forays into indie pop and trap-leaning pop when on tour with Miller, Got Him! Is, undoubtedly, a country record. Tasch’s low tenor register is pure and unaffected, highlighted by songs like “He’s Getting Away!” and “Whattaya Say.” Lyrically, the album focuses on acknowledging feelings of hurt and loss after a relationship, but later shifts to beginning the process of moving on and healing.

“With this stuff, I think I’ve just been listening to a lot of music that is influenced by classic country stuff,” he said, citing Faye Webster and Kacey Musgraves as reference points (Musgraves’ pedal steel player, Drew Taubenfeld, makes multiple appearances on this record). “It’s not full-on country, but it still has that feel. I think I just wanted to take my thing and mix it with theirs versus just making another one of those.”

That sound can be found throughout the record, particularly on tracks like “Tetherball” and the closing track “Wherever I Am.” The latter may be the best representation of it, from the first line to the last: “I’m in control / You think I can keep me close / Not that simple / I ask myself, ‘How did I make it so far out?’ I’ll never tell.” Groovier acoustic guitar and banjo-driven tracks like “Love and Japan” and “Shell,” a highlight of the project, can be found early in the record: “I’m a shell of myself / I’m a shell of myself… can you not tell? Washed up, but not clean / Get me out of my shell, shell of myself.”

John Mayer 

“Love and Japan,” almost right from the jump, has a John Mayer-like feel to it. Like something off of Paradise Valley. While there is certainly no need for a comparison, Tasch’s tone immediately gives off the feeling that covers of “In The Blood” or “Half Of My Heart” would go over well. “John Mayer WAS kind of my guy in high school,” said Tasch, confirming the theory. “I played guitar by myself… these solo acoustic finger-style things. Then I found John Mayer, and I got an electric guitar because of him. Also started writing songs pretty much because of him.” These days, along with Musgraves, he looks towards artists like alternative powerhouses Big Thief and Phoebe Bridgers as influences.

Visuals and Storytelling

Beyond the catchy hooks and classic bluegrass country instrumentation, Tasch took these lyrics and melodies and created a visual, character-driven world around them. The video for “Holdup” sees him pay homage to Forrest Gump, running aimlessly through dirt roads and woodlands, while videos for “Shell” and “Whattaya Say” have him dressed as a lobster and a sailor respectfully. “I had my friends who don’t really sing sing background vocals on ‘Whattaya Say,’ he said, his dry sense of humor shining through in this instance. “We were kind of swaying back and forth when we sang it, and one of them was like, ‘I feel like we’re on a boat.’”

The video for “Come Onn,” this one farmer-themed, sees him smiling (and dancing) directly at the camera while feeding chickens. He donned the farmer overalls onstage in Brooklyn as well, maintaining the aesthetic. “I don’t have experience in comedy… but even onstage I’ll be kind of awkward on purpose sometimes,” he said with a straight face just hinting at a smile. “Also just cause I’m just kind of awkward.” Onstage at Baby’s, he played it completely straight as his sister and friends sang and jumped vigorously to every song, showing everyone else up. “My sister is here,” he said blankly midway through the show. She and everyone around her cheered. Tasch himself moved on.

Endearing videos aside, there was most certainly intention and meaning behind the visual aspect of the record. “’He’s Getting Away’ is a song about losing your identity and the idea is that you lose yourself and find yourself throughout the album,” he said. “Then, ‘I’ll be wherever I am’ is kind of the final statement of it. For the characters, it is just all these different versions of yourself, but they’re still all you no matter what costume you’re in.”

“If you’re looking for yourself…” 

Strip the characters and the humor away, and you have a record of 10 songs that tell stories of multiple stages of the healing process. “Come Onn” shows Tasch as slightly resigned, not quite sure where to go from here: “I don’t wanna do this anymore / I have so much left / I don’t need to prove it anymore / I was hungry, now this feeling’s eating at me / That I’ve been following a bad dream.”

During its development, he picked up the tempo in order to save it, and him, from its total misery. “When I wrote it, that song felt so different,” he said. “It was five minutes long… It couldn’t have it been that long. Once I sped it up, it felt so much better. It makes it easier to put on when there are super sad lyrics you can relate to, but you don’t want to feel sad when you listen to it.”

This project begins with “He’s Getting Away!” and ends with “Wherever I Am.” The former begins by telling the story of a lost boy: “Have you seen his face? / Which way did he go when he got up and ran? / God, I hope he’s okay these days / Used to know him like the back of my hand.” The latter closes the album with the feeling that while there is still work to be done, he has turned the corner: “If you need me, I’ll be wherever I am.”

“That song is just… whatever it is that got you wherever you are, and wherever you’ve been, it’s a realization that you were there the whole time,” he said. “If you’re looking for yourself, all you have to do is look where you are.”

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