If you are curious how uplifting and welcoming the new album from Tractor Operator is, just take a gander at its title: Bleeding Hearts and Severed Legs. As a record, it's about as warm and comforting as a punch to the throat, because this solo project from Eric Jensen is a confident, dark, and playfully disturbed record. While solo performers are synonymous with sappy sincerity and approachable vulnerability, Bleeding Hearts is a wall of cold emotion and calculating aggression. Jensen's desperate and boozy plea to be left alone with his thoughts, and drinks, are a very welcome change of pace. Jensen took a moment to talk about the basement where he recorded the album, and what drinks you should buy the man when you spot him in a bar.
Most solo records have artists backed by other musicians. But for this album, it's just you. Was this something you set out to do?
Tractor Operator was decidedly a solo project from the get go. Having a band that I was responsible for managing was fun for a couple years, but seeing as I don't like people that much, it was time to make the record I wanted to. I do enjoy playing with people, but it was time for a change. This is the second Tractor Operator album and I'm getting tired of doing it alone, so you might see a full-band album at some point.
For a town famous for its basements, it seems that fewer and fewer local bands record in them anymore. Was the "crappy basement" you recorded Bleeding Hearts and Severed Legs in an ideal location?
I think the DIY thing is great. If the basement is where you can record, that's fine. For me it really is a matter of being able to roll out of bed and record on my own terms whenever I see fit. For that reason, the shitty basement was conducive for making an album that I hope people will consider honest and interesting. I make fun of myself a lot on this album and that probably has something to do with the basement.
Drinking seems to be a major theme on the record. If I'm listening to your record at a bar, what should I be drinking?
If you are in a bar it doesn't matter what you are drinking, just make sure to tip your bartender. I prefer Makers Mark and an IPA if somebody else is picking up the tab, but I find myself drinking a lot of well whiskey and shitty beer and paying for it with a credit card.
Tractor Operator performs Saturday, September 29 at the Tonic Lounge.