"I had toured so long solo that I hadn't really played with human beings in a long time," says Joseph Arthur, now on the road with the Lonely Astronauts. From left are Greg Wieczorek, Jen Turner, Arthur, Kraig Jarret Johnson and Sibyl Buck.
Raised in Akron and now based in New York City, alt-troubadour Joseph Arthur is having a productive year. He just put out an album, "Temporary People," with his Lonely Astronauts band, preceded by four solo EPs. The multi-talented Arthur, 37, spoke to us by phone from a Montreal art gallery, where an exhibit of his paintings opened last week.
Q: Were you concerned about throwing too much music at people?
A: Yes, a little bit. But I feel like the way I planned it out, it would in the end be . . . um . . . what's the word?
A: There you go. . . . Just because the EPs are so different from the record in a way -- the record being a band record and having a different sound and a more cohesive sort of sound, and the EPs being more experimental solo type stuff.
People don't have to listen to all of it. They can just pick and choose.
Q: Have you cleared the decks, or do you still have a lot of unreleased music?
A: There's a lot more.
Q: The curse of the prolific!
A: Yeah, definitely. There's a certain urge to get it out, just to sort of be free of it, to kind of move on and move past it.
At a point, you feel almost like you're holding back your evolution by holding on to things, you know?
Q: You've done a lot of solo gigs, with only your effects pedals for company. With the band, how challenging was it to fall back into playing with other human beings again?
A: It was a great relief to me to find a real chemistry.
I had toured so long solo that I hadn't really played with human beings in a long time. So it felt great.
Q: I like the album title. In a spiritual sense, we're all temporary people, right?
A: Yeah, exactly. I like that interpretation. . . . It has the depth to it, and then it has the other connotation to it, like hanging out with people that aren't going be around or don't really matter to you -- and people that do really matter to you.
The album is kind of about survival. And it's about struggle, vulnerability and overcoming pain through reaching toward spirit.
Q: What's your plan for 2009? Six EPs and a double album?
A: No, I will not be doing that.
We might put the EPs in a box set, do something special. Then I have a solo album near completion. And the band is working on another record, too. So I might put out a couple records next year.
I kind of feel like it's the late '60s or early '70s for me . . . and you're allowed to put out two records a year, or you're supposed to.