In October Ken Stringfellow released “Danzig in the Moonlight,” the first original album he has released under his own name in eight years.
It’s not that he’s slow to make a record. In fact, he’s made so many records that making another solo record just kind of fell by the wayside.
It’s tough to nail down exactly what Stringfellow, who plays the Vaudeville Mews on Friday, is best known for. He’s one of the founding members of The Posies, a supporting musician on three R.E.M. albums and a touring member of the band, and was a member of the revived Big Star.
He also fronts The Disciplines, has been a member of The Minus 5 and ... well, there are more. A lot more. And this hasn’t even touched on his production work.
“I just didn’t have the circumstance that made me feel a solo record was what I wanted to do for sure,” Stringfellow said. “Without that kind of inspiration, it’s easy to do other projects. There’s no shortage of other stuff to do. It wasn’t that I was waiting or not acting, the right circumstances just hadn’t presented themselves.”
The right circumstances ended up being the Dutch guitarist JB Meiers wanting to make an album with Stringfellow. The duo worked out a plan, one band, one studio, two albums. They got together in Brussels and blew through two records in a week and a half.
Another plus for Stringfellow is that Brussels is close to home. Though he’s originally from California, Stringfellow has lived in Paris for the last 10 years. He can catch a train from home and be at the studio in around 90 minutes. Stringfellow has found that living abroad gives him new perspectives and insights on making music.
“I speak French, but I have to concentrate to translate it when someone is talking to me,” Stringfellow said. “So I can zone out and just tune the conversations around me all out. It’s kind of a good way to focus in on your own thoughts by cutting down the chatter and eliminating distractions.”
“Danzig in the Moonlight” is a fairly complex sounding album, but for most of his performances (including Des Moines), he plays alone. There’s no one there to fall back on. If a song is off, it’s all on Stringfellow. But he enjoys the challenge that the solo shows invite.
“It’s so easy to play with a band, almost too easy,” Stringfellow said. “I don’t always want people to be tapping their toes to my music. The solo shows let you connect with the audience and let a simple, delicate bit of sound transport a whole room full of people. That’s what’s interesting to me. If you always have a band to fall back on or hide behind, it’s less of a challenge. Playing by myself really implies a commitment on my part and the audience’s.”
After touring for “Danzig in the Moonlight,” Stringfellow is thinking about an electronic instrumental album, then touring in support of an album he made with Carice van Houten (“Game of Thrones” fans will recognize her as the priestess Melisandre) and more production work.
Fans hoping for another Ken Stringfellow album might have another eight-year wait. Or more. Or less.
“There are just so many projects that interest me, I just don’t really know,” Stringfellow said. “It could be tomorrow, or never.”
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Vaudeville Mews, 212 Fourth St.