Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Jon Silman
12/02/2009 | Independent Florida Alligator | www.alligator.org | Live Show Preview
Cursive, an indie-rock band from Omaha, Neb., is playing at Common Grounds on Sunday. The band is on Saddle Creek records, a record label best known for another Omaha act, Bright Eyes. Its latest album, "Mama, I'm Swollen," was released in March, and they played the "Late Show with David Letterman" that same month. The Avenue got the chance to talk to bass player Matt Maginn about playing on TV, the band's sound and his favorite Nirvana record.

So what did it feel like performing on that (Letterman) stage?

Scary. Frightening. It was intimidating and really f**king cold.

You seemed to get a pretty good response from him afterward. He said the title of the album and then said "Yowza!"

I think he was sort of shocked or surprised. I think we caught him off guard a little bit.

As opposed to most indie bands who seem to prefer sparse arrangements and lo-fi sound textures, Cursive has more of a dissonant feel without as much sound separation, and kind of a Pixies-like vibe. Is that intentional?

We do like to allow for some separation, but that's just kind of the aesthetic we've always liked. We've never hid the fact that we like bands like The Pixies a lot (laughs) and are influenced by them. We kind of like the dissonance a lot, and anytime you can make the music sound uncomfortable or different or odd, the better, really.

OK with that in mind, which Nirvana album do you like better: "Nevermind" or "In Utero?"

I guess I kinda like "In Utero," for that reason. It's far more aesthetically interesting, but they were a big enough band that (the record label) gave people enough time to really understand it.

Back to this dissonance aspect, is it a statement against "popular" music?

The first time I was introduced to that type of playing, it was so different and so fresh to me that it was exciting and really captured my imagination, you know? It wasn't anything you'd heard before because it's not normal to make those sort of sounds.

So as a band when you're writing, instead of putting in a normal guitar break or something do you consciously say, "OK, let's try something that sounds a little different here."

We try to kind of walk a line. We used to do that, but we've allowed ourselves to expand a bit and not be so intentionally counter-intuitive all the time. We've been trying to allow some normal influence to come in and not f**k everything up, but that being said, I think we collectively decided that the next record we want to completely f**k up. We've been trying to mix them both, something more traditional and things that are weird sounding, but now I think we're in the mood to do something really strange.

How do you measure success as a band?

Good question - I don't know. I guess if our friends still like what we record then we're successful.

What about you personally? How do you measure success for yourself?

I guess if I'm still having fun, and surviving without too much pain. You know, if we can still have fun and not have to take out a loan to go out on tour.

What: Cursive with Capgun Coup and The Early Twenties

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Common Grounds, 210 SW Second Ave.

Cost: $14
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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