WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Every time Kasey Anderson thinks he's out, something pulls him back in.
After getting out of federal prison five years ago, the rootsy Portland singer-songwriter was resigned to devoting his energy to staying sober, treating his bipolar disorder, and atoning for his crimes—wire fraud related to a nonexistent tribute album—and leaving his once-promising music career in the past.
But then his friends—including Counting Crows' Adam Duritz—nudged and cajoled him into making another record. In 2018, he released From a White Hotel, under the name Hawks and Doves, played a few shows, then reinvested himself in other concerns, namely his role as program director at drug treatment organization the Alano Club and working toward a master's degree in creative nonfiction from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. As far as music went, he figured that was it, more or less.
Then, a few weeks ago, he agreed to let local left-leaning film company Eleven Films use one of his songs, "The Dangerous Ones," in an anti-Trump ad. He didn't think much of it.
It's brought him a lot more attention than he anticipated.
The ad has racked up almost 8 million views on Twitter, and been spread around by the likes of David Crosby, Mark Hamill and comedian D.L. Hughley. Chris Hayes featured it on his MSNBC show, and Huffington Post wrote about it. It's not just the video getting notice: A clip of Anderson performing "The Dangerous Ones" on YouTube earned thousands of views overnight. Critic Bob Lefsetz praised the song in his influential newsletter, spiking Anderson's Twitter following, and bookers and agents have started flooding his inbox.
Anderson isn't delusional—he knows that, at age 40, the odds of relaunching his career off this moment of virality are low. He's still not interested in that anyway. But thousands of more listeners are aware he exists now than there were a week ago. And if the ad convinces viewers to go out and vote, that, for him, is success enough.
WW spoke to Anderson about the true meaning of "The Dangerous Ones," his plans for what he's calling his final record, and spending quarantine relearning how to play the Pearl Jam discography, to his pregnant wife's increasing chagrin.
See more Distant Voices interviews here.