The dichotomy of seeking recognition and fame, while simultaneously running from it as fast as possible, has permeated Akron, Ohio, rocker Brian Lisik's work since his days as founder and front man of the self-proclaimed "slop rock" band The Giants of Science in the late 1990s.
A psychologist would likely have a field day dissecting what fears, insecurities or simple dissatisfaction with life that may mask, but all we have as sure evidence is two blistering Giants of Science EPs ("Hang Ups and All" and "A Minor Disturbance"); two more albums of the solo variety (2004's "Baggage" and 2006's "Happiness Is Boring"); and now Lisik's new offering, "The Mess That Money Could Buy" (released September 2012 via Lisik's own Cherokee Queen Records).
It would be tempting to chalk up the cheeky title of Lisik's latest disc, and the six-year span between it and its predecessor, to that aforementioned artistic dichotomy. But the singer himself disagrees.
Brian Lisik will perform at 8 p.m. March 22 at Kimball’s Pub, 972 Second St. For more information about Lisik, visit www.brianlisik.com.
"No, I actually wasn't trying to take nearly a decade to make a record," Lisik said. "We actually had 90 percent of it done in about six months.
"Then we began the process of trying to make it sound good, which was probably a mistake. In the end though, it does sound really good. It just took us forever to finish and annoyed quite a few studio engineers along the way."
While "Mess" is alternately balls-out rocking ("Small Town Royal Family" "Five Other Rooms," "A Mess"), surprisingly tender ("Nights In Shining Amore," "Last Words") and mightily frustrating to pop music perfectionists (check the botched count-off on "I'm Satisfied"), it is ultimately real which is all Lisik was looking for.
"I've been at this a while, both as a performer and someone who has analyzed and written a lot about performers," he said. "And in the end, forming some sort of bond or communion with an audience is really what it's all about. Minus that, it doesn't really matter how much time or money you spent or didn't spend on your piece of art. All those things help when it comes to getting people to know you exist, but if it isn't genuine, your piece of art is basically a piece of something else."
In a recent Facebook post of a video filmed at a Canton, Ohio, venue more resembling a loading dock than a nightclub, Lisik commented about his performance, saying, "'Passenger Side' [is a] A Wilco classic about being drunk. I messed up most of the chords. I was sober."
The irony of the posting is that the largely unappreciative crowd is treated to one of the most appropriately fragile-yet-defiant versions of the song this side of Jeff Tweedy himself.
"I don't really set out to be a screw-up," Lisik said. "It just seems very natural for me sometimes."
That supreme, yet genuinely self-deprecating confidence is rare in artists. "I basically live with creative people, but I find most 'artists' to be insufferably boorish and self centered," said Lisik. "I am too, mind you, but I don't have to talk to myself if I don't want to."
Brian Lisik will perform at 8 p.m. March 22 at Kimball's Pub, 972 Second St.
For more information, visit www.brianlisik.com.