Musician embarks on a solo career
A college education often requires making sacrifices. You leave home and family to find the school that fits; you take out loans to afford the cost of tuition. Sometimes, you drop out of a band destined for greatness because the appeal of the Program at St. John’s College is stronger than the appeal of the Grammy Awards so clearly on the horizon.
This exact thing happened to Tim Kile (SF05). He dropped out of the indie band Arcade Fire that he helped to create and enrolled at St. John’s. The critically acclaimed band would eventually go on to win the 2011 Grammy for album of the year.
“I applied to St. John’s out of high school, but I didn’t end up going. I was in Montreal, going to McGill, which is this big university style of education, and I was playing with Arcade Fire, which is a band a lot of people know now. The whole time, I found myself thinking about St. John’s, and feeling that I had one chance to get an education,” he said.
Tim was at home in Manchester, New Hampshire, when St. John’s called to catch up with him. He explained that right out of college, he formed a band called Wild Light. They toured with Arcade Fire (whose first album came out during Tim’s senior year), opened for the Killers, and recorded an album, Adult Nights, in 2009, with Columbia Records, but the label dropped them while they were working on a second album. And then the band broke up.
“That was a massive learning experience for me,” he said. Tim decided to record a solo album. He soon learned about online fundraising and a Kickstarter campaign was born. People—his friends as well as strangers—can support his project with as little as $5 donations. The campaign launched just days before he spoke to St. John’s, and he’d already raised a third of the funding he needs.
He knows he took a huge risk by walking away from Arcade Fire when he did, but he doesn’t regret anything. “It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but it was plainly clear that St. John’s was a lifelong investment in terms of my art. If you want to be an artist and explore and express the deepest truths you can about the way things are, you’re going to be going off half-cocked if you don’t have a sense of what the conversation has been for the course of human civilization,” he said. In addition to the literature and poetry he read at St. John’s, he also draws on the music education he received every day, when he plays as well when he needs to soothe his soul.