Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Dante Lima
12/03/2009 | Gainesville Sun | www.gainesville.com | Live Show Preview
Over the years, Tim Kasher has said a lot more on his albums than he's said in real life. His life has been a veritable open book as he penned album after album for his main band Cursive and his solo band The Good Life. But lately Kasher has decided to take his thoughts outward and get on his soapbox to speak about the hypocrisy of religion, the monotony of suburban life, the decline of modern man and other musings from an artist always ready to step on the rose colored glasses rather than wear them.

Cursive's newest album, "Mama I'm Swollen," is the next installment in the Tim Kasher saga, one that bridges the Fugazi-meets-The-Cure sound of Cursive with the soft, sentimentality of the Good Life to bring his past into one. It's a sign that somewhere along the line good ideas cannot be separate. It's something that Kasher has learned after more than 10 studio albums and 15 years spent in music.

After a flight from his home in Montana to Omaha, Neb., the home base for Cursive and Saddle Creek Records (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley), Kasher talked about his career as a musician, the new album and Cursive's upcoming show at Common Grounds on Sunday (tickets are $14 and the show begins at 6:00 p.m.).

Q: Do you like playing in Gainesville and Florida?

A: It's actually probably my favorite town in Florida. It's a small town versus Orlando and the only other town I like a lot is Pensacola. Gainesville has always kind of touted its hard rock, whatever element we have of that in our music it's always been accepted there.

Q: By now Cursive has a lot of material, but how hard is it to keep the older fans happy and play the back catalog?

A: There's only 10 songs on the new record, we play about half the album a night. It gets pretty spare around the first two albums. We play a lot of "Domestica" on up. We don't practice the old stuff often because over the years we kept going out on tours and from two people to zero people who would know the songs.

Q: The departure of cellist Gretta Cohn, who left in 2005, really changed your sound, how do you guys play that material without her?

A: We tour around as a five piece. Amongst us we manage to cover the majority of the melodies. I would never say it was difficult, as we were making those kind of decisions and moving in a different direction. We were concerned how people would react to it. It ended up being a non-issue. It's nice to be able to have that flexibility as musicians you can kind of reinterpret anything you want to.

Q: "Mama, I'm Swollen" is definitely a softer Cursive record, more melodic and Good Life-sounding. Is there a reason the songs are sounding more interchangable?

A: These last two records I tried to intentionally combine those ideas to bring in all of my best ideas into one album. That's also just decisions that we made for those records.

We kind of want to do each record differently. We don't ever want to come off as predictable. But, yes The Good Life has spilled into Cursive a lot more, but not really the other way around.

Q: You've always written well in themes, in other words "Domestica," "The Ugly Organ" and "Happy Hollow." Why haven't you chosen to fragment your statements more?

A: A lot of it happens pretty naturally. I'll be writing the bulk of the album, getting through half or 3/4 of the album and I'm belaboring a handful of points. Then I'll finish the record intentionally finishing those points. Those songs kind of end up hammering home the central theme of the album. Some of that is pretty intentional, to avoid the predictability of the writing. "The Ugly Organ" is my favorite way to write, the self-reflective and self-deprecating way to write. So there's a lot of intent to picking these different ideas.

Q: The new record and "Happy Hollow" have a lot of religious themes. Why are you choosing to go outward at this time in your life instead of continuing to examine yourself?

A: With Happy Hollow, I always wanted to have a soapbox to get my word across about religion about fighting against it. I used to think people used it to manipulate other people. I wrote Happy Hollow when I was about 30 and really it was more of like a service I was doing for my teenage self. I was much more angsty as a teenager.

After Ugly Organ I saw it as an opportunity, like it might be the most-open ears that I've ever had. Also, I've been writing about myself my whole career, and sooner or later people want to hear something different. I've done the self-loathing thing, and I definitely have a lot of ideas, it's not all about me.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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