Cursive is sick of hearing about Omaha. "It's kind of hard to have any feeling if you read press that mentions Omaha. I don't want to say it's overblown, I just don't pay any attention to it anymore," says guitarist/vocalist Ted Stevens. Stevens, who has been a part of Cursive since its highly-regarded album Domestica, feels apathetic towards the small-town band media angle. "It's a passing fad or it's not," he remarks.
Last year's release of The Ugly Organ, however, is a subject that Stevens is quite passionate about. He is quick to discuss the danger that was involved in releasing a concept album after the immense popularity of 2000's Domestica. "You risk people calling you artsy fartsy, pretentious," he says. "At the core of what [lead singer] Tim is getting at is not pretentious at all. He has a particular style, and he's really sarcastic ... I see it as his charm." In an album that addresses Tim Kasher's difficult post-divorce years, this charm is remarkably apparent.
Equally remarkable is the addition of cellist Gretta Cohn to the band's lineup, part of a conscious decision to revamp Cursive's sound. "After Domestica, we wanted to add a new instrument in hopes that the band's sound would evolve a bit. Two ideas were cello and timpani," Stevens mentions. Cohn, a former New York musician who came highly recommended, adds a powerful and distinctive flare that separates Cursive from its Fugazi or D.C. guitar sound comparisons. Although the band never denies the similarities, Stevens insists Cursive's sound comes from a wider variety of sources. "It's not just Fugazi," he states. "There are a lot of great musicians in that scene, a lot of great writers." Stevens speaks for the band when he says the group grew up listening to Joy Division, The Smiths, U2 and Camper Van Beethoven -- influences that are all discernable on Cursive's albums.
What's most surprising about Cursive is that even after the success of its two most recent albums, the band still doesn't believe it has grasped its final sound. "We're looking for it, we're working on it," he says. "The band is constantly developing. The right recipe for a better record would be to have more material to select from." After just a year's departure from the release of The Ugly Organ, Stevens is already enthusiastic about the next album. "This time around, we're gonna try to write over 20 songs. If there's a theme that's developing, the songs will get divided that way," he comments. Whether Cursive will sound completely different when the next record surfaces, no one really knows. Stevens hints at the idea of introducing a new instrument, but nothing has been decided. Whatever results, just don't label it artsy fartsy.