Mama, I'm Swollen
Hatchet Arts spoke with another Ted Stevens.
This Ted Stevens is from Omaha. He plays the guitar. He takes a conflicting stance on Dan Brown novels.
Stevens serves as the guitarist and vocalist of Cursive, an Omaha-based rock outfit fronted by Tim Kasher, a musician simultaneously lauded and criticized for his self-reflexive (and overindulgent) emoting.
Following the March release of "Mama, I'm Swollen," Kasher, Stevens and Cursive will take the stage of the Black Cat on Sunday, May 3.
They may or may not bring along copies of "The Da Vinci Code."
Listeners generally have strong opinions about Tim Kasher and his sense of lyrics, music, his beard. Does this present any challenge at all working as a band? Do you get confined to any certain styles of music?
Are you talking about the "E" word?
Emo. It's difficult, you know. When I woke up ten years ago that's not how I saw myself or the band I was joining, and it's not how I see myself today or us.
Talk about the recent album "Mama, I'm Swollen." Qualify the title and talk about the sound and how it's different than previous Cursive albums.
It's hard for me to describe the title because it's Tim [Kasher's] brainchild, but I think it means something pretty similar to all of us. The idea with the title was you kind of have an umbrella phrase to tie together some of the imagery on the record. I think the title's meant to be taken many ways … pregnancy, fertility and a bruise - maybe a battered, swollen body, you know? An ego, a swollen ego.
This [album] comes off as pretty stark. I think that was pretty intentional … It's stripped down, less instrumentation. We wanted it to come off maybe a little bit more like a live band in a studio.
Did you work on the album in Omaha?
We split our time between L.A. Tim moved up to Santa Monica and the drummer lives in L.A.
Do you like L.A.?
I like the weather. I love the food. I love some elements of the town, but the city proper I think I've decided I don't like. It's tough. I come from Omaha and the worst traffic - there's like 20 minutes each day where you try to avoid going down one street with the traffic. It's a quality of life issue.
What are you listening to these days?
I'm going through a big Queen phase right now as far as classic rock. I've been listening to a record called "Jazz" a lot. I like it.
There's another band called The Better Beatles that are from Omaha. I just heard of them right before I left on this tour. It's kind of a No Wave, early '80s artsy project where they get a bunch of Beatles music with just a synthesizer and a bass and a little bit of that New York - like I said, No Wave - that Laurie Anderson kind of spoken word. It's pretty hilarious; I've been trying to turn people onto BetterBeatles.com. It's really interesting for a band that existed for probably one afternoon [laughing] and they made one record; it's pretty incredible … what they're doing with that record. It just got reissued.
Have you read anything interesting lately? Do you read on tour?
Yeah, we sure try. We're sort of getting in the rough routine … You try to drive your share and sleep your share and catch up … I have to read a bestseller when I can't get my brain working.
What, like "The Da Vinci Code"?
Pat is our resident trumpet player and he's a big Dan Brown fan and this band has kind of been through a phase where a lot of the members and crew read Dan Brown in the van. I'm kind of working my way through the Dan Brown catalogue [laughing].
Do you really enjoy Dan Brown?
I can't say that I do. It's a little bit of a tongue in cheek thing maybe … I've spent a lot of my life reading older books and literature and I'm going through a phase now where it doesn't really interest me. I just want to move through a book really fast. And I like the way Dan Brown does it I guess.
Does Tim Kasher like Dan Brown?
Tim does not read Dan Brown. He's too good for Dan Brown. And he's too good for Harry Potter too.
Do you have any artistic regrets? Do you ever experience releasing something and wishing you could change it after the fact?
Yeah. I guess you hope that as you get older you get better at your job. In music your ears are your number one asset. As your ears get better and you get more aware of what's going on, you hear old vocals, old guitars and old bands and you regret things ... I look at albums sometimes as tattoos - you put a lot of sweat and blood and effort into them, and you're stuck with them.
You've obviously been to D.C. before. What's your experience of the city?
I share a name with a famous former senator from Alaska. I guess that was kind of exciting … I have a lot of fun sharing a name with that old fart. He's pretty out of touch.
Maybe he likes Dan Brown too.
I'm going to go on record saying that I think everyone enjoys Dan Brown. Maybe some people are just too snooty to admit it.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3