Tim Kasher won’t say he’s the brains behind the operation, but his band Cursive does tend to bend to his whims as his personal outlet.
Cursive plays One Eyed Jacks tonight with Capgun Coup opening, and the band’s lyrics are often ripped right from Kasher’s life. 2000’s Domestica is the story of a relationship – his and his wife’s – crumbling and failing. Similarly, the band’s other albums all have a pervasive theme throughout: 2003’s The Ugly Organ is Kasher’s realization of his fame and place in the world as an artist, and 2006’s Happy Hollow is a toothy criticism of religion and war, set in the confines of a small town.
“When I write, I write about a lot of the same ideas that I experience, and sometimes they all tell one larger story,” Kasher says. “We went really heavy on theme for Happy Hollow. For the last couple records, actually.”
So when the band released Mama, I’m Swollen earlier this spring, an album seemingly without a cohesive storyline or heavy-handed thematic elements, fans and critics wondered if this meant Cursive might be growing up a bit. Even the album’s sound is much more mellow and less discordant than the band’s previous, sweepingly dramatic efforts.
Maturing as a band, Kasher says, “was deliberate. We definitely have always been open-minded to not consider ourselves a hard rock band, so it kind of just turned out that way. The songs we thought were louder or heavier are a bit more subdued.”
Despite what seems like a lack of theme, Kasher says, “one did develop, sort of. Some of our records have heavier themes; it’s more obvious what they are. [Mama, I’m Swollen] developed over a period, loose ideas of what we were trying to cover. Being in our 30s, at least me, and entering into that, and what my viewpoint is from there, sort of laid the songs out to follow loose stories, and the artwork follows that.”
In 2001, the band took on a cellist, creating the sound most listeners of the band are familiar with. Happy Hollow replaced the cello with a horn section, but for Mama, I’m Swollen the band is back to performing as a four-piece. “For one, I don’t think we want to fall into anything too recognizable, like, ‘What instrument are they going to pick now?’” Kasher says. “We don’t want to fall into that pattern. We didn’t want to put out concept albums all the time and have it be what people would depend on us for.”
As for devoted fans wondering if the band will bring along a cellist or horn section to play old favorites, Kasher hesitates for a while before being decidedly vague. “You go in the studio and record albums one way, and you can play them live in a different way, and that can be exciting about music, at least for me,” he says. “As a musician, you don’t have to be restricted to certain things. We’re not opposed to a cellist again, but we’ve been a five-piece now for [recording] this record.”
Regarding Cursive’s future, the band is notorious for announcing hiatuses in between albums, or once, disbanding entirely, and Kasher has a defense ready, explaining taking breaks as his way of trying to not stick to a schedule. “As far as the hiatus question goes, with Cursive, we try to keep things as loose as possible. We’ve been throwing around the idea of a new batch of songs.” Kasher says he also plans to record a solo album soon to release sometime next year.