Never Enough Cursive
If it’s not broke, break it.
At least this is Cursive frontman Tim Kasher’s approach while songwriting—making what was once pretty, ugly; once traditional, different and maybe once unidentifiable, a little more Cursive.
“I’m part of the ilk of writers who have a tendency to muck things up at the end of a writing project,” Kasher said. “I think that’s just an aesthetic. There’s a song I was working on over the weekend the way that many of us simply know how to write—which is your basic major chords, stick a few minor chords in there and settled into a key and was feeling pretty good about what I was doing with it. I set it aside and came back to it a day later and started turning all the appropriate chords into discord and making it a far uglier affair, which I think is far more interesting.”
Cursive released its ninth album “Get Fixed” in October, just a year after “Vitriola.” They tested out the songs at a few performances in the northeast, but they’re now preparing for a proper southeast tour. And Kasher has heaps of history with Pensacola, having played here as a 20-year old in the mid-90s with Commander Venus—which is a band he fronted with Conor Oberst.
“We first started going there way back when and played Sluggo’s, back when it was a venue on a second floor,” Kasher said. “That’s when we met older punk bands, like This Bike is a Pipe Bomb. We met David Dondero, who was doing a band Sunbrain at the time.”
Since then, Kasher and company don’t stop in Pensacola every tour, but they’ve made it back a few times.
“Get Fixed” was an appropriate catch all, Kasher said. It was in the running to be the album title for “Vitriola,” but they held the song back for this record.
The title track was written on behalf of Kasher’s wife, Gwynedd.
“She’s taught me a lot over the years, her point of view of humanity–that it’s essentially a virus that this earth has been stricken with,” Kasher said. “We are the cockroaches that are inhabiting this earth and we are devouring it. It took me awhile to come to terms with that, because I love humanity, and she does as well. It’s not that she’s that dark, but I do think that’s accurate. There’s something wrong with the inhabitance of this planet and what we’re doing to this planet and to each other.”
The song specifically suggests to “spay or neuter yourself,” so it works nicely as a double entendre to improve yourself, he said. As far as humanity redeeming itself, Kasher can’t be sure.
“On the broad scale, it doesn’t seem possible, does it?” Kasher said. “At the same time, there’s a lot of governments and a lot of people coming together that believe in change. It’s a matter of how much the global population is listening to them as a whole.”
Kasher recently ranked Cursive’s “9 most emotionally draining songs” for kerrang.com. “Marigolds,” one of the first singles on “Get Fixed,” was number 9. It’s a personal song, he said.
“Really the focus of the song is intended to be about how we distract ourselves in any way possible as a means to avoid the reality at hand,” Kasher said. “In that particular situation in that particular song, it’s about sitting bedside in an ICU when a loved one is nearly deceased.”
It took Kasher awhile to figure out how to write it. The point he wanted to get across is that the human reaction is to pretend everything’s OK.
“I hope it’s something that translates to others,” Kasher said. “When I go through an experience like that, I have to assume I’m merely joining the ranks of countless people who have had to deal with similar trauma.”
“I Am Goddamn,” one of the earliest tracks they wrote, unexpectedly turned into one of the band’s favorites. They were always curious about it, but initially set it aside with a promise to readdress it later.
“When it finally came time, we dove back into it,” Kasher said. “I was pretty excited about the lyrics that I’d come up with for it and we did a lot of interesting stuff with the instrumentation. It was one of those underdog songs that ended up coming through. That tends to happen in any situation of music. Those tend to be some of are more preferred songs we like to champion. It left us curious. We didn’t know if it was a good song or not, but we knew we wanted to stand by it and see it through. We were pretty happy with the end result.”
All of the songs were written in different seasons of life over the past few years. Kasher doesn’t know when or why it happened, but he spends more time accumulating music than he used to.
When he and Ted Stevens, guitarist and backup vocalist, searched for a commonality among the album’s songs, they found it–except for in “Content Conman.”
“All the others seem to be focusing on darker themes and mortality and problems with humanity and/or people in harm’s way and having a hard time getting out of harm’s way,” Kasher said. “‘Content Conman’ is actually just about songwriting and the entertainment industry at large. That’s OK, too. For this and ‘Vitriola,’ we didn’t set out to stick to any specific theme. Themes tend to happen anyway, because that’s what you’re writing about.”
WHAT: Cursive with Cloud Nothings and The Appleseed Cast
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox