Cursive's Tim Kasher on What 'The Ugly Organ' Means to Him Now
Cursive is playing in Phoenix tonight.
By Andy Thomas
Cursive's 2003 Album, The Ugly Organ, has been described as a masterpiece, a benchmark and a career jumping off point for an already highly touted band. The album contains elements of song-writing and musical mastery and sold more than 170,000 copies. But it can also be viewed as merely one of many amazing accomplishments in the long and fruitful career of the Nebraska-based band.
We caught up with Cursive front man Tim Kasher and asked him about the recent reissue of the album, what it was like when it was first released and if he even likes it.
Andy Thomas: Talk about the decision to reissue The Ugly Organ.
Tim Kasher: Well, I guess it was Saddle Creek's decision for the most part -- it's their record as well. It was a successful record for us, not that we want to blindly follow trends, but there's a certain amount of cause for celebration. I'm glad to be a part of it, and do a victory lap, of sorts.
From a label's perspective and business perspective a reissue makes sense, but is there any artistic merit in the decision?
To be perfectly honest I don't think there is a ton. And also, for a band at our level, I'm not sure it even makes a ton of business sense either. [Laughs] It wasn't that successful of a record, but for us it did well. We really don't have a new album out and we just wanted to go on tour regardless, so this is a fairly natural thing to attach to a tour, and as result we'll be promoting it. We are looking at this tour as a throwback of sorts and leaning heavily towards that era. We described it to ourselves as an Ugly Organ era tour. We are playing our whole catalogue but leaning towards that time.
Was this a life changing record for you and the band when it first came out?
Not in any way I noticed back then, it didn't alter anything -- none of us went and bought some sweet car, [laughs] and I just kept living in my junky apartment. It certainly helped establish the band and gave us more career longevity. I definitely owe a lot to that album and that time period as far as maintaining some element of of relevance twelve years later.
Did that album inform the way you wrote music after that record, knowing that that it was so well received?
I guess I would question any band that kept trying to sound the way they did on a certain album, but there's definitely some credence to that question, because, sure, any album you're writing you hope people respond to it. I guess that's something that every songwriter just addresses, but I don't know how entrusted I am to that. Every record you're trying something new, at least that's what I hope songwriters are trying to do, you just hope people respond to it.
Is Ugly Organ your favorite album you've done?
I'd say not by a long shot, but it's because I have a tendency to root for underdogs, and that one doesn't need my assistance at all. That said, I've been playing songs off [Ugly Organ] and Domestica for twelve to fourteen years now, and that doesn't offend me. I'm proud of those songs.
I've read before that you were surprised by the album's success. Were there albums you've been a part of, in Cursive or your other projects that were not as successful as you thought they'd be?
I've certainly made the mistake of assuming that, because certain records were sounding really good and I was confident about them, that therefore they should do really well - and then they don't. Then you're left wondering why, and then you realize you shouldn't have been so presumptuous in the first place. There's no way to figure it out anymore, I just keep doing records and that's what I've taught myself. Some create more of a spark and others don't. I don't think it's healthy to try and figure out why.
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