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Omaha-based indie-rock band returns to the Mill

BY JORDAN MONTGOMERY | MARCH 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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mp3 sample: Cursive

"The Sun and Moon"

The lyrics on Cursive's latest album, I Am Gemini, tell the story of a man who feels a presence in his home and realizes it's his evil twin. Immediately at odds, the protagonist and antagonist end up in a dramatic fight that sends one of them to the hospital.

The Omaha-based indie-rock band will perform at 8 p.m. today at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $14.

Chris Wiersema, the Mill's talent buyer, said it's never a question of "if" the venue will host Cursive but "when." The band has performed in Iowa City half a dozen times but not since the summer of 2009.

I Am Gemini, the band's seventh studio album since 1997, was released on Feb. 21. It is the band's first time experimenting with lyrics that tell a story that continues from the first track to the last.

"It's written in a linear fashion; the story and lyrics are all told from beginning to end straight through the record," said Cursive bassist Matt Maginn. "It's sort of a whole composition in itself; we took lots of risks creating this album."

The members of Cursive consider taking chances an essential part of creating any kind of new music.

"Having fun with music is being scared of what you're doing," Maginn said. "It was fun and challenging doing something in this linear fashion. To use creativity to sort of tackle the challenge made it more exciting, and it made the music more fun. It's always fun making something a little different."

When Cursive was creating the album, the members built the instrumental aspects of the song first. Instead of singing the words in rehearsal, singer/songwriter Tim Kasher sang the melodies he had in mind for the lyrics.

"The one unique thing is that before the lyrics are down, you're sitting on songs that are so close to completion and the lyrics are the last things to go down," said guitarist Ted Stevens. "The record was sequenced with the intention of Tim writing a linear lyric style."

Maginn said it was very interesting to see Kasher go through the process, but he admitted there is a potential downside to making album where the lyrics tell a story.

"We had to sequence the record in advance, which is unusual," he said. "And it can be risky, because if you end up with a sequence you don't like, you can't change it because the story won't make any sense."

Despite the recent release of I Am Gemini, Stevens said when the band performs live, they play music from at least their last five records.

"We play music from the entire catalogue," he said. "We play the newer stuff closer to the recording, but [for] the older stuff, we'll throw in some twists and have fun with playing them in a different manner."

And when it comes to performing, Cursive's 17-year history has taught its musicians what is necessary to put on the best show for audiences.

"We try to make sure that we are well-oiled and fully prepared," he said. "By doing that, we are able to let loose and have a good time. Over the years, we've learned that when we're having fun and playing confidently, people in the room feel that energy and end up having fun, too."


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