Musicscan: Hi Matt, where are you right now and how are you doing?
Cursive: Hello, I am at the Saddle Creek HQ in Omaha, NE where I work. I am doing well after recovering from a bout of Strep Throat.
Musicscan: First, let me say that I think your new album "The Ugly Organ" is by far your best, most mature and well crafted album for Cursive. You incorporated a larger variety of sounds and instrumentation, which adds to the very broad scale of emotions and different expressions on the album. Did you approach "The Ugly Organ" differently than previous albums?
Cursive: Thank you very much for the compliments. We appreciate it. Definitely, we looked at our history and decided we now had the opportunity to broaden our sound. We've played together long enough to establish a sound that we feel is our own. This allowed us to approach different styles and ideas with more freedom. We were sure that whatever we did, it would still come out sounding like us.
Musicscan: Did you want it to be sort of a concept album from the very beginning? What was the initial idea behind it?
Cursive: We have really approached all of our records as complete compositions and therefore follow a concept for each one, whether it is loosely followed or not. Initially we discussed the reality of sexuality and its affect on interpersonal relationships. The album is consciously not limited to that initial thought and also deals with self-reference, self-degradation and storytelling.
Musicscan: It seems like you created self-referential situations throughout the album where you are dealing with what it is like to be in a band and more specifically what it is like to be in Cursive. Does it irritate you that "you gotta sink to swim, immerse yourself in rejection, regurgitate some sorry tale, about a boy how sells his love affairs"? That you have to "fake the pain and better make it sting"?
Cursive: I feel that is really a tongue in cheek reference to writing personal songs and how it can be diluted by the influence of the industry. It's kind of reference or "how to" list for any bands that want to be popular and embraced by the industry these days. Has pain, weakness and failure turned into simple means in order to sell more records and appear true and authentic as a songwriter? Listening to popular music would sure make you think so. That is kind of the tongue-in-cheek part.
Musicscan: Do you find yourself caught up in this phenomenon in some way as well?
Cursive: I suppose so. I guess that's what causes the self-reference. Honest songwriting has always been our means. Looking at popular music today there are many bands that, as you said, appear to use the impression of honest songwriting to sell more music. I think again, that it is the industry getting too close to independent music now and bastardizing it. Then again it is hard to be the one's that point the fingers. It is all a matter of perception.
Musicscan: Strictly arguing in postmodern tradition, an artistic expression would be nothing else than references to other artists or artistic expressions. There is no universal or unique form of expression, but solely collages or cut-ups of already existing influences. What is your opinion and where do you see your art within that context?
Cursive: I definitely feel everything is derivative in some way or another. Our goal has always been to hone our sound into something we feel is a unique combination of influence and our expression. I think we really tried to tackle that with the writing of "The Ugly Organ." We have tackled some forms of composition that are distinctly different but tried to incorporate them into our sound by writing as though the root is irrelevant. "Art is Hard" is probably the easiest example, because it has a very "swing" beat. However, it does not sound like a swing song as you would expect one to sound. We attempted to embrace the feeling and the beat and incorporate it into something that is distinctly ours (if that is possible in this type of discussion).
Musicscan: Is making music a certain catharsis or therapy for you? What do you think you would be doing if you weren't into music?
Cursive: Music is very cathartic. I have tried not making it before and it can drive you a little batty. Sounds funny but you really start to miss it and it becomes a bit depressing. I suppose if I were not making music, I would be working here at Saddle Creek helping the other bands I love.
Musicscan: What makes you satisfied as an artist? What is the most rewarding thing in playing music and being in a touring band for you?
Cursive: The greatest satisfaction in making music is expressing yourself in such a way that your friends and loved ones enjoy your music and share the excitement. I think we have all played so long that it is a part of who we are and hard to divide the two, so it is important that those who are close to us feel passionate about it as well.
Musicscan: What can we expect from Cursive in the near future?
Cursive: Lots of touring and hopefully some time to write a new record. I have a feeling the new record will be even broader in scope than this one. We will complete our 2nd US tour of the year on May 5th. Then we will be coming to Europe for late May and much of June. Please come out to a show if you get a chance.
Musicscan: Three favorite records?
Cursive: Records right now: Neva Dinova - Self Titled; No Knife - Riot for Romance; Planes Mistaken for Stars - Fuck with Fire
Musicscan: Any last words or comments?
Cursive: Thank you for interviewing us. We appreciate the interest and hope to see everyone in late May when we plan to tour Germany.