Micah Nelson has logged considerable time on the road backing up both his father Willie Nelson and mentor Neil Young. But in the last couple years, he has also found time to release a series of excellent, deeply adventurous albums with his band Insects vs. Robots and solo project Particle Kid. “Micah is a great musician,” Willie tells Rolling Stone. “He plays everything. He can play a fiddle bow on a guitar and make it sound pretty cool.”
After recording his previous album, Particle Kid, in a professional studio, Micah decided to go for a homemade vibe for Everything Is Bullshit, which came out last month. He bought a Tascam four-track cassette recorder. “There’s something extra personal and intimate and timeless about the cassette sound I enjoy,” Nelson says. He also decided to be less serious about songwriting – many of the songs started off as jokes. “I noticed that once a small something is put to a melody it can often appear to be a big something and take on a more profound meaning, even when it’s a topic as simple as the satisfaction of having a fresh batch of clean clothes from the dryer, or betting on a horse race.”
The title track, “Everything Is Bullshit,” was written in that vein. The song’s title, he says, was a phrase his girlfriend Alex muttered while they were watching the news. “It made us laugh when I sang it to a melody off the top of my head.” He put the idea on hold until he was with his tourmate Neil Young. “I sang that chorus phrase for him, but this time I just kept going adding lyrics and it eventually became this stream of consciousness evolution story loosely inspired by Terence McKenna’s stoned ape theory . . . To me it’s a healing song about facing the reality of how weird and out of control reality is, and finding some humor in there.”
For the video, Nelson employed a DIY animation technique using Post-It notes he’s been developing on Insects vs. Robots. He spent days working on it. “I’m pretty happy with it, in spite of how sketchy and thrown together the whole thing is. I’m ready to make the next one now. I try not to overthink things too much. Necessity is the mother of invention. Death is this omnipresent deadline for me. I just want to keep creating. Life’s too short to be a total perfectionist.”
Nelson also recently created another video promoting his Space Gnomes Playing Cards, which he’s selling to raise money for the Bridge School, a longtime cause Young has championed.