It started … let me think here … about a year and a half ago, when (bassist) Matt (Magin) and I began the discussion of whether we should do a sixth Cursive record or not. We tend to take these things “one record at a time,” focusing on the material at hand, with no plans for future records–just the one in our heads at the time. This time around, we didn’t much feel like doing another “Cursive” record, but DID have the urge to write something; something together, but without the proverbial rudder of that band name and its five previous records steering the direction of the music. So we decided we would simply write a record, write it any old way we wanted, and if it sounds like Cursive, we’ll call it Cursive. If it sounds so erratically different that it can’t be Cursive, then we’ll go through the nauseating process of finding a new band name.
Kasher at a recent WOXY radio session (courtesy of WOXY.com)
A year and a half later, and here we are: halfway through the recording, realizing that this is very much another Cursive record. I’m not sure what we thought we were going to write at the time–way back in 2007–but at least we weren’t weighed down by those presupposed shackles of past outings. I guess those shackles aren’t so bad after all.
This is our first time writing an album with everyone in different cities. I don’t think this sounds jetsetting or cosmopolitan; I think it makes us sound old. The band has grown up and out of their old surroundings–scattered around the country, starting lives (families) of their own, meeting up with the “old gang” on the weekends. Okay, it’s not like that, really. Really, it’s just a pain in the ass.
We’ve been meeting for about a week out of every month, in either LA or Omaha, working out songs and playing shows to offset the costs of travel. As a result of this new process, we ended up with more songs than we have ever had going into a recording before. Which sounds weird, right? ‘Cause it would make a lot more sense that we would be scraping just enough songs together to fill 30 minutes of music … I think this worried us so much that we ended up overwriting to compensate. Plus, there was also a lot of pressure to have as many songs prepared as possible for each writing session; we wouldn’t want to waste all that time and money just to get together and play old heavy metal riffs we learned from Guitar magazine in the ’80s.
For all those songs we wrote, we managed to shed about 12 of them, leaving 13 to polish. In May, we came together for one last practice session before going into ARC studios in Omaha for two weeks of tracking with AJ Mogis. We intended to only get the drums, bass and basic guitars done, but instead came out with the bulk of the album recorded! It was a great experience, flying through the recording process, everything coming together naturally, cohesively. Much of the expediency was due to the addition of (drummer/percussionist) Cornbread Compton and (saxophonist/keyboardist) Nate Lepine–both incredibly able musicians.
(Guitarist) Ted (Stevens) and I spent our June’s recording in our respective homes–Ted on guitar parts, myself on vocals. I set up a ramshackle “isolation booth” in my bedroom closet, propping up my mattress as a back wall to soak up sound. It’s been a fairly easy-going project, if not a bit hot at times, as I have to turn the window AC off whenever I hit record. At the end of June we played a couple of shows in Chicago, rounding out the weekend with a quick recording session at the Shape Shop. We got some stellar takes from Patrick Newbery and Nick Broste, a trumpet and trombone player, respectively, fellows who often tour with us on longer jaunts. Also, Geoff Dolce of the band Lacona played some “mean” fiddle, as they say.
As I write this, it is early July. Ted and I are finishing up our guitar and vocal duties, planning to meet up later this month to work out some additional vocal ideas. After that, the recording should be pretty much done. I am ecstatic–isn’t it a great feeling to finish things? I couldn’t be any happier or more excited about this record, though it still needs a title. We are going back to ARC in August to mix the tracks with AJ, hoping to have a finished 10, 11 or 12-song album by September. And one, two or three fantastic B-sides.