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MUSIC | Vol. 11, No. 14, April 23, 2009
(Hope We Can Believe In)

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Cursive Hits The Road

by Joe Pantalones

WHAT: Cursive with Man Man
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 28*
WHERE: Sluggo's, 2403 W. Cervantes St.
COST: $15
*info/times subject to change

Cursive is one of the most beloved indie-rock bands to ever come out of Omaha, Nebraska. They've just released their seventh full-length album, "Mama, I'm Swollen," and are embarking on another tour to support it.

The IN caught up with guitarist Ted Stevens while he was soaking up his last little bit of downtime before a long stretch on the road.

IN: How did you come to join Cursive?
TS: I joined in the summer of 1999. I was brought in to replace Steve Peterson, who had moved away.

IN: You had another group you were in, right?
TS: Yeah, I was in Lullaby for the Working Class.

IN: Did you keep that going when you moved over, or did you just totally leave that group?
TS: I guess I didn't intend to, but that band ceased to exist after that point.

IN: Where do you all find inspiration?
TS: I'd say other music. I guess that would be the big one. We're all individuals. Tim is into his thing, and Matt is into his thing. But my number one inspiration would be other music, for sure.

IN: Who are some of your favorite artists?
TS: It's changed over the years. I guess the ones that have been really consistent have been the British invasion kind of bands. The Kinks, The Stones, The Beatles, The Who. I guess I'm kind of back into Pink Floyd. I really like Pink Floyd, as well as classic rock. I guess Cursive, in general, is more like alternative-80s music. New wave and alternative, we're into a lot of that.

IN: Since you brought it up, I have to ask: what's your favorite Pink Floyd album?
TS: I'd probably have to go with "Dark Side of the Moon." I also really like "Obscured by Clouds." I like them all. I guess I could leave a couple of them behind, but I'd consider "Dark Side of the Moon" a masterpiece.

IN: You guys have taken a few hiatuses that could've been permanent; do you feel like the band is ever hanging on by a thread? Or is it pretty strong now?
TS: Well, it does feel pretty strong right now. We take our blows, you know? We've lost members over the years. The band has taken its share of surprises. But I guess I feel pretty good about the touring group we have right now. I still have my personal obstacles ahead of me⎯I need to practice a bunch⎯but I think we're going to be pretty good here in a couple of weeks.

IN: You personally have been through two of the main hiatuses, right? What was the motivation to come back? Did you all just agree that you had more to do?
TS: Yeah, I think that with long periods of touring, it got everyone down. It's a difficult lifestyle. But when you get away from it for a while and get back into your home life, you miss it. You miss the excitement of it. The band has been trying to find a healthy balance of touring and not touring. And people have gotten married and started families over the years. But we're getting closer and closer to finding a schedule that's making everyone happy. I feel like over the years, at the end of months, if not years of touring, the hiatus idea comes up to give everyone a long break and to make sure that when we get back together, it's for the right reasons. It's got to feel like it's time to make another record or get together and get creative.

IN: Do you feel like it's helpful to the creative process?
TS: No, not really. But it helps, I think, to build your stamina for the next season of touring. I think that, you know, if Tim's really active and I'm active in the off time, then the momentum keeps up. But with music, I don't think the downtime really helps anybody.

IN: Do you try to stay creative with other outlets when you're taking time off?
TS: Yeah, I'm trying to. I'm content with Cursive though. But I am trying to play more music in general.

IN: What's your favorite aspect of touring?
TS: I guess it would be keeping in touch with friends around the country. I was talking with my wife this morning about how, you know, if you let it become what it becomes, it's a non-stop social engagement and a party from get-in time to leaving time, if you're at the venue. If you're hosting people and having drinks it gets a little exhausting, but I'd say that's my favorite part.

IN: Is the popularity of your band something you guys think about or is important to you? Are you comfortable where you're at right now in terms of your fan base?
TS: Gosh, I don't know. It seems like such an easy question to answer. I guess we are pretty satisfied. It's tough to say, because each record is, on one level, an artistic thing. On another level it's this business thing that you've put so much time and money into and you don't want to see it fail. And it sucks when you can't break even. But I think I'm most satisfied with the reaction. Even if it's a bit spotty here and there, we knew that going into it. It's not the same record and some people are going to love it and some people are going to hate it, or nearly hate it. But I feel successful in the fact that we've achieved a good record and that we've got the reaction that we needed.

IN: How has reaction been so far to the new album?
TS: I think it's been great for the most part. I guess I'm not even necessarily talking about the print or online media, just the people at shows. And people that I share a lot in common with are calling me up and telling me how much it means to them. So I'm satisfied with what everyone's been saying, good and bad.

IN: What do you guys have planned for the future? Do you have any immediate plans for after the tour?
TS: Not really. I guess I would hope that we would keep touring throughout the fall and into the winter, and then think about the next step. I don't think there's going to be another hiatus coming up; I really hope there's not. But that might be what we need after four more months of touring. I think maybe too, we feel like this hiatus thing has been like, beaten over the public's head as far as "official statements" go. Sometimes it seems like we're a band becoming popular for these timely breakups, or whatever. But just to be realistic, there's no way to tell how we'll feel after this tour. But I'd like to think we'll get something going pretty quick and try to get the turnaround quicker.

IN: Is that something that you all will just come together for after a tour and see how everyone's feeling?
TS: Yeah, definitely. We'll see how everything's jiving, and ultimately Tim will show us some new stuff, and we'll see if everyone's feeling it. We'll have to see. But I feel positive about the future.

IN: What's some of your favorite music you've been listening to lately?
TS: I listened to the new Breeders record today; that was pretty fun. My aunt gave me a bunch of her LPs, so I've been kind of thumbing through her country-western stuff. She has a lot of greatest hits albums and bands that I don't really like. I don't know, I guess I keep my iTunes on random and let it play all through the house unless I'm working on music. That's just a huge collection of American folk, jazz, alternative rock, indie rock, classic rock a lot of The Faces and The Band and Bob Dylan.

IN: Have you seen any good or bad movies lately that stood out to you?
TS: I saw "Happy Go Lucky" last night and thought it was great. I saw a really good movie called "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" with Robert Downey Jr. Those are probably my two favorites that I've seen in awhile.

IN: Do you have a favorite guilty pleasure music wise?
TS: No. I've been trying to delete those things off my iTunes. [laughs] I don't know, I guess not. I'm pretty guilt free.