Cursive crafts dynamic new sound in ‘Happy Hollow’

Cursive, an indie rock band with tours spanning three continents, struck a chord with critics with its 2004 album, “The Ugly Organ,” and received a crescendo of applause from alternative music magazines like Spin, Blender and Alternative Press for its 2006 album “Happy Hollow” . The band reworked their sound with the 2006 album and even added a five-piece horn section. Cursive consists of lead singer and guitarist Tim Kasher, guitarist Ted Stevens, bassist Matt Maginn and drummer Clint Schnase. The Northern Light interviewed Maginn on Feb. 6.

How did the band form?

We sort of formed out of the ashes of another Omaha band at the time, called Slow Down Virginia. We all liked each other, so we played music.

How did you get the gig for the tour with The Cure in 2004?

Robert Smith (The Cure lead singer) asked if we could do it, which was a nice surprise. We thought their agent was not being truthful when she told us that, because it sounded too weird. But we were happy to hear it was true.

How did it affect the band’s development to open for The Cure?

I think it definitely helped us get to new people. The best thing we appreciate about it, though, is just that it was a good experience. It was awesome to see them play every night. They were very kind and hospitable.

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Cursive took a long breather after the 2004 tour and returned with four of the five original members. What did the future of Cursive look like to you after the tour?

We were just kind of walking away from it to see if we still cared about doing it or not, to see if we still liked it.

Were you uncertain the band would work on another album?

I didn’t think, necessarily, that there would be another album. We were pretty comfortable just leaving it all.

How does it work out to play your older songs, now that you have a horn section instead of a cellist?

We don’t really have the horns replace anything. We just kind of have them do their own thing.

What kind of development did you see take place in Cursive’s work, between “The Ugly Organ” and “Happy Hollow”?

Our hope and our goal – and I think it worked, too – was that we tried to expand the sound even more, to be heavier at times and quieter at times, and more melodic and poppy at times, than in the past. But also, uncomfortable, edgy, odd and off-timing, just like we’ve always liked to do. Just spread it out further than it has been in the past.

I noticed there are some religious themes in “Happy Hollow” that add a new thread to Kasher’s work. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

I think there’s been religion since the first record, since (“Such Blinding Stars For Blinding Eyes”), most prevalently in “The Storms of Early Summer.” Then also, references in “The Ugly Organ” and “Domestica.”

But I think (“Happy Hollow”) was just good timing, as far as people’s soul searching and personal relationships with spirituality. I think it was time to hash it out verbally.

It was definitely present in the past lyrics and music, and it just kind of came to the top. Mainly, it was a reaction to the increased religious fervor and conservatism that has happened over the last few years.

What has been the response to “Happy Hollow” so far?

It’s been good. I mean, people are confused by it, but I think that’s what we expected. Critics have been very kind, they have been turned on to it more than I would have expected.

It throws people off in some ways, because they want to hear another relationship record. It’s not the same boyfriend/girlfriend relationship that people have gotten used to.

How do you feel about coming up to Alaska for a show?

We’re stoked. We’ve been wanting to come for a long time. We’re excited. We even joke about it, but I think it’s kind of cool that we’re going to be there in the winter. Actually, we’re probably a couple months late for the heaviest part of the winter, but it’s still cold, so that’s cool.