Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Nate Jackson
06/29/2009 | OC Weekly | www.ocweekly.com | Live Show Preview
In the ever-expanding roster of introspective, self-deprecating, indie rock bands (avoiding the word "emo" here), there will always be a small handful of forefathers that people will always turn to for the good stuff. Cursive is certainly one of those bands. Not only do they provide a window into what any successful post hardcore band can look forward to, should they survive the music business into their 30s, but they also retain their ability to rock harder than a lot of bands in their 20s. We will get to witness it again first hand as these Omaha heroes roll into the Glass House (P-Town!!!!) tonight.

It's been a couple months since the release of their latest album Mama I'm Swollen (released March 10) and the band continues to tour the country, ingraining new tunes like "From the Hips" and "Mama, I'm Satan" (three words every mother wants to hear) into the hearts and minds of their fans. For those of you who haven't read the Weekly''s recent article on the band by Doug Wallen, music journalist to the stars, you can do that HERE. I also happened to have a little time to chat with lead vocalist/guitarist Tim Kasher and guitarist/vocalist Ted Stevens regarding the latest album, life on the road and Peter Pan. I've cut it down some to accommodate your short attention spans (it's okay, it's Monday and you're busy anyway). You can check that out.....after the JUMP. Oh, and for more details on the show tonight, check THIS out.

How do you feel the live show has changed or evolved at all as you tour on this record?

Ted Stevens: I guess I'd have to talk in terms of instrumentation. For this record we brought our friend Patrick [Newberry] who's been in the band since Happy Hollow. He's doing fugal horn and trumpet and keyboard/organ and synthesizer. So we really have adopted an idea that we are really best represented by a five piece.

It helps up cover the old material through the new stuff and having a guy who can switch up horns and do some of the Happy Hollow horns as well. So I think the live show has changed in that we've stripped down three players to one.

Tim has definitely changed his method of leading the band. Now he's playing a little less guitar and doing more singing and talking to the crowd and moving around and really trying to have a good time and making sure the band is having a good time. He keeps the band surprised, I'll tell you that. You never know where he's gonna end up or what he's gonna do, so that's fun.

I've read some different interviews or press releases where you
talk about the themes of some of the songs on "Mama I'm Swollen" that
center around the idea of grown men that are hesitant to grow up and
"settle down" (the words "Peter Pan Syndrome" seemed to be a
reoccurring theme as well). What are some ways in which you feel that
concept comes into your life now as a touring musician in your mid
thirties? Did finishing the album or writing those songs have any
affect on that?

Tim Kasher: I only had a basic idea of what I wanted to write this record about: I
wanted it to be about my experiences, now that I am here in my thirties... so, it's a little funny, the ideas that rose to the top, that permeated these songs. I think the central character is a bit bratty at times, which, again, is funny to me, as I feel a bit like a
brat refusing to grow up at times. But by acknowledging these inconsistencies, we can learn to correct!! Though I'm still known to throw quite the temper tantrum on stage.

In terms of A.J. Mogis' abilities as a producer, what made you guys want to work with him again for this album?

Ted Stevens: You know he produced the first couple records. And we formed a band with Mike and A.J. in the 90s called Lullaby For the Working Class. And the three of us kinda represented that band recording and on stage. So I guess the history with Cursive and the Mogis brothers just goes back to the very first album. And one of them has been involved in every record and both of them have been involved in the first three or four.

Their talents changed through time and Mike got into a very stylistic kind of production and really earned a name. He's worked with Bright Eyes and worked with other bands and shaped their sound. Cursive is one of them. Mike is largely responsible for Happy Hollow and why it sounds good. It sounds really hi-fi and the arrangements are really out of this world. We wanted, in Ugly Organ we were a lot younger and so was he and we were a different kind of band. You can definitely see his work and the method to the madness throughout the record. But I think that after those few records, we wanted to go back to something more like the first three.

Tim Kasher: AJ is really supportive, as a friend and as someone who has worked on
our records from the start, so we don't need to define much by way of what we're looking for in a record. It's inferred at this point. It's easy to depend on him; he wants to be proud of the record as much as we do.

Is critical success or response to the album affected you guys at this point in your career?

Ted Stevens: It's really hard not to. I think I've really been kinda out of touch as far as the last decade of technological leaps and the way the internet has changed journalism and the way it's changed the music industry and the way the internet has changed the world. I feel like I've been really slow to accept.

I feel like it has affected the band. But for me, I've really started to evaluate how it has changed stylistically. And its hard for me to put a lot of stock...I've noticed just a real decline in writing and it only goes to show that the internet has really widened everything and you can't argue also that it's allowed for some really bad writing to seep through. And with enough hits and with a popular spot, you have an online publication.

It's hard for me to get really sensitive about a bad review, especially if I think it's written poorly. If it's in a respectable paper and it's written well, then it kinda of cuts to the heart, that's good. All bands need that. We've really tried to sort the good from the bad. And I'm really trying to guess where we fit in and that's really hard to know.

Tim Kasher: Ergh... I wish it wasn't, but frankly, it's not altogether pleasant, getting panned. But the rejection/humiliation is quick to pass; I am wholly aware that what we write isn't for everyone. Must be more difficult for the Britney Spears' of the world, who actually ARE trying to write a record for EVERYONE.

Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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