CURSIVE with CYMBALS EAT GUITARS and CONDUITS
Monday, April 9 at 8 p.m.
Café Eleven, 501 A1A Beach Blvd., St. Augustine Beach
Tickets are $16
Last time Folio Weekly spoke with maniacally prolific singer-songwriter Tim Kasher about his recent solo work, the dude was positively down and out. (See Folio Weekly, Aug. 23, 2011, http://bit.ly/GR11j3.) This time around, Kasher was in better spirits, riffing on main band Cursive’s new album, “I Am Gemini,” a concept piece centered around twins who represent good and evil ends of the human condition. Like those polar opposites, Kasher transitions smoothly out of last year’s folk- and pop-inflected solo work into what many are calling Cursive’s heaviest, loudest magnum opus in years. Best of all, a playbill of sorts accompanies “I Am Gemini,” elevating the always-involved Cursive experience to new creative heights. Folio Weekly chatted with Kasher about the album’s ambitions, the joy of playing loud and his love of forward motion.
Folio Weekly: How did the elaborate structure of “I Am Gemini” come about?
Tim Kasher: It was certainly not an idea I had when we started writing the music, but after doing some of the vocals, I wrote the outline for the story. It all basically comes out of thin air, but I intentionally offered an allusion to mythology to give it that sense of being a traditional story or large allegory. But it’s also loosely derived from a simpler idea of just wanting to write about two conflicting forces.
F.W.: That may be its greatest strength. Even though the songs seem to chart some big, lofty idea, anyone can relate to the struggle between good and evil.
T.K.: I appreciate you saying that, because it’s always important for me to write something that comes across as fairly universal, or at least has a chance to resonate with listeners. I didn’t want the story to go so far up its own ass that it alienated people.
F.W.: “I Am Gemini” also seems different from much of your past work, which comes from a very personal place. Were you consciously trying to write outside yourself for a change?
T.K.: Not totally, although it was conscious in the sense that I try to keep any writing I do fresh. I recognize that anything referential can become a little stagnant. But I also recognize that the listener seeks some specific type of writing from me, so it goes back to ensuring that I’m not alienating people by producing this fictionalized piece that has nothing to do with anyone. And the whole time I was writing each song and figuring out each direction of the story, I always made sure I understood how it was relatable to me.
F.W.: You went to the trouble of creating an actual script for the album’s liner notes. Do you have grand visions of producing “I Am Gemini” onstage someday?
T.K.: I’d be pretty nervous about how awful it’d turn out. [Laughs.] I had a handful of daydreams about that when I was first working on it, but I put those ideas aside because I wanted to concentrate on the album itself. Now, if one so chooses to sit down with the playbill and work through it while listening, that’s my preference.
F.W.: Is it hard to turn off your restless creativity?
T.K.: It’s definitely a little bit of a curse, but I love it. I don’t have another job to occupy my time, so I need to stay busy. I guess people around me might suggest that maybe I’ve taken the obsession too far. But I’m OK with it.
F.W.: Are you happy with how you hit both ends of the musical spectrum, between your quieter solo work and louder Cursive sound?
T.K.: Absolutely. But this new Cursive record is heavier and louder for the most simplistic reason: It’s just fun. I’ve recognized in a very simple, pure sense that there’s such an impulse — even for a folk band — to turn up their instruments and play loud. It feels so natural to do that, so we wanted to do an album that would complement that and be a lot of fun to play live. That runs really counter to the type of music I listen to, though, which is generally quieter and more forlorn.
F.W.: You’ve got one hell of a tour coming up — 30 North American dates, followed by 31 European dates, all in the space of less than three months. After all these years, do you still enjoy hitting the road that hard?
T.K.: You’re catching me at a time when I very much do; toward the end of this album cycle, I’ll feel pretty weary. But I’ve gotten used to that. Putting out new material makes all the difference in the world. So when I get weary with this, I’ll have a new album of solo stuff and I’ll be excited to go tour that.