Having fun playing Cursive

BY RYAN FOSMARK | JULY 23, 2009 7:15 AM

The next chance could easily be the last to see Omaha-based band Cursive. This nearly 15-year-old band takes a laid-back, noncommittal approach to its widely respected and energetic music, which leaves the band’s future open ended. Such a creative ellipsis creates an uncomfortable anticipation among its wide range of fans every time a new record comes out.

In support of its new album, Mama, I’m Swollen, Cursive will play the Picador on Saturday with the Love Language and local band Birth Rites. Doors will open at 6 p.m.; admission is $15.

“[Cursive] is a flagship rock band, and it’s a well-known band regardless of where you go,” said Kevin Koppes, a booking agent at the Picador.

Based on past shows by the members of Cursive and an early door time, the Picador expects a large and diverse crowd on Saturday.

“There are people who discovered this band when they were teenagers who are now in their late 20s,” Koppes said. “You’ll see anything from 14 to mid-30s. It’s going to be a really big cross-section, and the people really love the band.”

Cursive, which he describes as a sort of traditional indie-rock band that has taken on an Americana role, took a step back into its earlier work on its new album, Mama, I’m Swollen, released in March.

“The subject matter is different on this record, and I think it is a little darker and a little more melancholy and brooding,” bassist Mike Maginn said. “[2006’s] Happy Hollow was a little more sharp, and sarcastic, and witty, but as a result, the music tended to be almost more pop, and upbeat, and bright. It didn’t really have the darkness that our other records have had.”

The melancholy is present in the lyrics and music as well as the theatrically artistic music videos the band has produced. Still, Cursive is mostly committed to simply putting on a good rock show.

“We’ve always kind of wanted to get a little more theatrical or something with our live shows, but they really just kind of end up being rock ’n’ roll, punk-rock bar shows,” Maginn said. “We know you’re supposed to dress nice and try to look good and all that crap, but we’ve never given a shit, to be honest. It’s kind of in that same idea with like dressing up the stage or some crap, but we’re just interested in delivering good music and rocking it so that everybody is having a good time.”

“A good time” is Cursive’s mission, whether for gigs, tours, recording, or continuing with careers. The members take a relaxed approach to the band — typically take at least a yearlong break between tours to allow themselves some downtime.

“We’ve been breaking it up with lots of time and space,” Maginn said. “It’s very freeing mentally and creatively — I think it allows us to explore other creative outlets and have enough breathing room for the music to stay fun and stay inspired rather than become a job, necessarily.”

Cursive applies the same philosophy to all aspects of its music. Many times after an album’s release, Maginn said, the members don’t rush into another recording. They sometimes even wait a year before deciding whether or not to head back into the studio.

“Even right now, it’s kind of up in the air as to whether we’ll do another one or not, but it always is,” he said. “It allows us a bit of freedom, artistically. If you’re willing to walk away from it all, you don’t really feel a pressure to deliver something commercially successful because the option is to just not do anything at all. So you get to that point where you’re like, ‘Well, we can just do what the hell we want.’ ”

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