Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster (of Water Liars) on Vic Chesnutt’s Influence


If you have been keeping up with OpenEars over the last few years, you probably already know that Oxford, Mississippi’s Water Liars is one of the best bands around today; a true rock ‘n’ roll band that knows how to play loud with grit, yet never masking the songwriting and voices behind the band that make them truly stand out. Water Liars was founded by the talented duo of Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster and Andrew Bryant, expanding into a three piece over their 3 albums released so far, while recently expanding again into a stellar five piece band as they look to release their next album sometime in 2017.

In 2015, Andrew Bryant released his sixth solo record, This Is The Life, one of our top 5 records that year, and more proof of just how talented this duo is. Yet over Water Liars first three records, Justin has been the primary songwriter for Water Liars. This summer Justin started dropping singles from his upcoming debut solo album, Constant Stranger, which immediately registered with more standout songwriting from the Water Liars frontman.

Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster’s debut solo album Constant Stranger is set to release tomorrow, September 30th via Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum Records (you can stream the album now on American Songwriter). Over the 11 songs on Constant Stranger, Kinkel-Schuster shows off even more vivid imagery through his songwriting, a weary yet warm; romantic, but real look at the complicated nature of human relationships. The loud guitars of Water Liars are gone, mostly replaced by an acoustic guitar, and showing off the impact that Kinkel-Schuster can make through his stunning vocals and personal songs. The solo debut is another poignant look at the duo behind Water Liars, a must own for their fans or anyone looking for unique songwriters that stand out from the pack in a crowded space.

To celebrate the release of Constant Stranger, we caught up Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster to ask him what’s an album that’s had a major influence on him throughout his career? Check out what Justin had to say about his influential album below (check out Andrew Bryant’s influential album here) and pick up a copy of Constant Stranger at your local record store or digital format tomorrow.

Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster’s influential album:

Vic Chesnutt – At the Cut

“The courage of the coward is greater than all others.”

Vic Chesnutt - At the Cut“I was 26 when At the Cut came out in the fall of 2006. Waist deep in adult losses, choices and mistakes — the import and impact of which I could only dimly discern —trying to write songs, record them, tour them, in the first band for which I had real hopes. As it happened I was on a tour, the kind of failing, meaningless tour that so many of us have undertaken. The kind that in hindsight makes me wonder why I ever presumed to make another. I bought the CD at a record store in Omaha and on the drive from Omaha to Lincoln, Vic’s growls, wails, whispers, exhortations and finally words of acceptance held me in thrall as they have done every day since. And even more, the memory and continued existence of Vic’s songs and life are what remind me why I continue, against all warnings internal and external, to try to write, record, tour and ultimately, just to live.

No writer has taught me more about the importance of songs and music as a home and a vehicle for brutal honesty (both with oneself and with the listener), humor, and reconciling acceptance of things as they are with memory and desire than Vic Chestnut. At the Cut will always stand for me as a perfectly flawed yet flawless distillation of Vic’s worldview — a worldview I knew instinctively that I shared the moment I heard what he had to say and how he had to say it. The songs on At the Cut range from huge, dark and brooding sonic expanses to almost claustrophobic acoustic intimations, while each song, each line, is imbued with gooseflesh-inducing power and sense and movement.

I never got to meet Vic, to shake his hand or hear his voice and see his eyes or feel his presence. But that does not keep me from feeling his loss, and his life and his work, as deeply as the most intimate and personal blood losses of my own life. And this is the deep, secret, magical nature of influence, of what we are talking about here. How can a man I have never met speak so directly to my heart, soul, my ideas of life and death? How can words and notes, which we all use each day, but combined in just such a way by just such a human being, describe to me over years what feels like my own mind? The answer, you’ll have to forgive me for presuming Vic might say:
“It is what it is.”” /- Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster

Catch Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster on his upcoming Living Room Tour (presented by Undertow Music Collective) (tickets here):
SEPT. 30         OXFORD, MS
OCT. 1             FAYETTEVILLE, AR
OCT. 2             ST. LOUIS, MO
OCT. 3             CHICAGO, IL
OCT. 4             MADISON, WI
OCT. 5             FORT WAYNE, IN
OCT. 6             KENT, OH
OCT. 8             BROOKLYN, NY
OCT. 9             BALTIMORE, MD
OCT. 11           CHARLOTTE, NC
OCT. 12           ATHENS, GA
OCT. 13           OPELIKA, AL
OCT. 14           ATLANTA, GA
OCT. 15           BIRMINGHAM, AL
OCT. 16           FLORENCE, AL
OCT. 17           NASHVILLE, TN
OCT. 31           LITTLE ROCK, AR
NOV. 1             DALLAS, TX
NOV. 2             AUSTIN, TX
NOV. 4             ALBUQUERQUE, NM
NOV. 5             PHOENIX, AZ
NOV. 7             LOS ANGELES, CA
NOV. 8             SAN FRANCISCO, CA
NOV. 11           RENO, NV
NOV. 15           OGDEN, UT
NOV. 17           DENVER, CO
NOV. 18           OMAHA, NE
NOV. 19           CHARLES CITY, IA


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Mike Gerry

Head music fiend at OpenEars Music

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