Cursive Tim Kasher: Rock’s Nicest Angry Man

Considering how angry Tim Kasher's music is, it was surprising to meet him and
discover he's one of the nicest, most soft-spoken musicians we've ever
interviewed. In fact, I was nervous the microphone wouldn't even pick up his
voice, he spoke so quietly. How could this lovely man spit out so many abrasive
songs about divorce, cheating, bitterness, and self-hatred? Later on stage
though, Tim's brutal screams more than lived up to expectations. Apparently
there's no better therapy for what ails you than writing and performing music.

This year Cursive is headlining the Plea for Peace Tour, a national tour to
promote voting in the next election in a non-partisan way (though it turns out
most of the artists just found it too difficult to hide the anti-Bush
sentiment). We got the opportunity to interview Cursive's lead
singer/keyboardist/guitarist just before their second Plea for Peace show in
Madison, Wisconsin. After over an hour of waiting for Cursive and the rest of
the Plea for Peacers to deal with the fact that Denali had just called to cancel
the rest of their dates due to their sudden break-up, an only slightly frazzled
Tim was able to squeeze us in for a few minutes to discuss the tour, politics,
Saddle Creek and the Emo Game.

TMT: How
did you get hooked up as the headliner for the Plea for Peace tour, and why did
you want to get involved?

Tim: Last year we were invited on the Plea for Peace tour through the
band Thursday, and as a result got to know Mike Park pretty well, who runs Asian
Man Records and Plea for Peace. So when he started setting this tour up he
contacted us, specifically Matt, our bass player/manager, and they started
coordinating it together.

Since this isn't a tour for a specific album, what can we
expect from your playlists? Will we hear a lot of older stuff, or still
primarily songs from The Ugly Organ since it's the most recent?

Tim: We're
still doing like, six Ugly Organ songs, which is close to half the set.
The amount of people who are familiar with Ugly Organ compared to the
rest of our catalog is astronomical. But despite that, we'll be playing stuff
off of every record. It's great for us because we're frankly a little tired of
promoting the album. But we wanted to come out and do this with Mike and push
people to vote. I don't really have much time that I'm in Nebraska, but if I can
find the time, I think it would be great to campaign for Kerry after this
registration tour. Nebraska's a very heavily Republican state. So much so that
it's impossible to be able to switch the vote. But you never know, it's gonna be
a weird election.

How are your political views going to influence this tour?

Tim: Well,
the intent of the tour is supposed to be an objective slant to registering, kind
of stressing the importance of voting. But as far as our personal politics go,
I'm probably less inclined to say that I'm Democrat because I'm leery of an
institution like that, but this year it's really important that everybody at
least rally and vote for Kerry. I think it's important at least.

you have plans for a new album, or is your focus on touring right now?

Tim: Yeah, we do have plans for a new album, but we've been touring so
much that the writing is going kind of slow. But it will come around. It's
something that we want to release like, September of 2005. It's such a slow
process that even if we had the songs written, which we don't, it would still
probably come out September of 2005. We've written like, six songs, and we have
time off here and there.

Do you think the new material will be much different than what
you've done so far, and lyrically do you think the subject matter will continue
to change?

Tim: Yeah, I
hope so on both fronts. That's just something that is important to us to not
keep putting out the same records. We just have to hope that people who have
gotten into Cursive in the past and presently with Ugly Organ are the
type that won't want to hear, you know, Ugly Organ again, they'd be
curious to hear a different album each time. But who knows, sometimes people are
just merely pissed and they just want to hear the same crap over and over again.

TMT: You brought a cello into your last album. Do you have any plans to expand the
band instrumentally in the future?

Tim: We've been talking a lot about bringing horns into the new songs. In a
non-traditional way though. We never really know how the songs are going to turn
out, but we have an idea of having things become more perverse and raunchy, and
we kind of feel like horns really blaring- that's kind of what we're hearing
right now. We're not really sure what will actually come out though.

The video for “Art Is Hard” has gotten airplay on Fuse and
MTV2. Can you explain what's going on in that video? I thought I had it down
until the transvestite entered the picture.

Tim: Sure.
That song and a lot of the first half of that record is so self-reflecting that
we wanted to do a video that symbolizes going and watching Cursive and how
they're always singing about themselves. The beginning of the video with the two
people on stage pointing cameras at each other, its like they're filming
themselves and how unusually dull that can be. As far as the transvestite
getting ready in the back, the idea is that when she actually walks out on stage
as a real woman it's the appearance that the public sees as opposed to what's
really going on, which are incredibly different things. Not saying that we're
rotten miserable people of course. We have a new video for “Reclusive” that's
hopefully coming out next month.

TMT: What's the concept for that video?

Tim: It came
out really nice; we used this production company that just blew us away. It's a
really far out, far-fetched video like a horror movie. This guy wakes up, who's
actually Todd from the Faint, in a castle and basically this spider vampire
woman attacks him at the end. The whole time we were doing it I was like, this
is really fucked up, but it turned out really nice. I was impressed.

the opportunity arose, would you ever consider switching to a major label or do
you think Saddle Creek is where you're going to stay?

Tim: We're just trying to continue growing with Saddle Creek, and if we
can continue to do that, that's great. I just don't see any reason why you'd ask
for a boss. If you're running your own business and you're your own boss, why
would you go, "well, I'd really like to have a boss telling me what to do?" It
just doesn't make sense. I guess you might make more money in the long run, but
we're all really hesitant about it. I'd feel like I was going in the wrong
direction if I was on like, the side of busses or on billboards. It's media
glitter that I'm leery of.

TMT: Can
you all support yourself on your music now, or do any of you still need day

Tim: It's a decent living now. Matt works for Saddle Creek and Clint
still works with his dad. It's more just helping loved ones out at home though.

What's an interview question you hate? And hopefully we
haven't asked it.

Tim: I don't
answer "what do you sound like?" anymore.

People ask you that?

Tim: Well, it's pretty standard, or "how do you define your sound?" I
just stopped answering it. I never had a good answer. It's pretty weird to have
a pre-set answer to that. It's probably one of the most common questions.
Probably more as you're growing up as a band and people are kind of figuring out
who you are, that's when you get that question a lot. But you still get it now
when you're doing like, the Santa Fe Weekly and they have no idea who you are.

you have any feelings about the Emo Game?

Tim: I probably should, but I just kind of let it lie. I've looked at
it, but it's like a... it was funny at points, but there's some weird sodomy
crap and stuff like that, I have no interest in being PC or anything like that,
but that just seemed a little weird. It's not even that funny really, just kind
of like, potty humor.

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