By Lori Stratton
The Omaha, Nebraska indie punk rock sextet will share two decades of their smart, tightly-woven, concept-driven catalog with longtime fans at The Blind Pig. It will be their first appearance at the intimate Ann Arbor rock club in over seven years as part of a 31-date U.S. fall tour.
“We’ve always taken a fan service attitude for people who are coming out, so we try to touch as much as we can on all the records we put out. We definitely have more of an emphasis on the bigger records we’ve done like ‘Domestica’ and ‘The Ugly Organ,’ and we also put ‘Vitriola’ out last year,” said Tim Kasher, Cursive’s lead vocalist and guitarist.
“That record’s really been doing pretty well for us, so we’ll definitely carry out those tracks as well. We try to do some version of a ‘best of’ whenever we go out on tour with covering what we think are the choice deeper cuts that people appreciate.”
Last October, Cursive released their eighth album, “Vitriola,” a 10-track thought-provoking musical response to their struggles with existentialism veering towards nihilism and despair. It also raises concerns about an oncoming dystopia that feels eerily near at hand.
“The ongoing news cycle set a lot anxiety into our collective social consciousness. It’s something that I really couldn’t get away from, and I’m still struggling to get away from it since our current president,” said Kasher about Cursive’s follow-up to 2012’s “I Am Gemini.”
“It’s just become a reality show president as far as dominating everybody’s attention every day with some ridiculous tweet that he does. That seeps into my daily thoughts a lot and came out into what I was writing and what I’ve been writing.”
Those brutally honest thematic elements are brilliantly woven throughout “Vitriola.” The album runs the sonic gamut between rich, resonant melodicism, Hitchcockian anxiety and explosive catharsis, and no Cursive album would be complete without scream-along melodies and lyrics that make for unlikely anthems.
Decoding ‘Vitriola’s’ Tracks
The fiery opener, “Free To Be Or Not To Be You And Me,” reflects a search for meaning that keeps coming up empty, yet moves forward despite the fear of a dark future. Another stellar track, “Under The Rainbow,” sonically demonstrates how disquiet boils into rage and indicts the complacency of the privileged classes.
“The opening track was definitely a bit heavier for me personally. It’s a song that left me feeling a little bit self-conscious releasing it,” Kasher said. “I question whether or not I was vocalizing too much of my personal despair, but I also think that’s what we should be doing in writing and just kind of lobbing it out there and hoping that other people relate to it.”
For the first time since 2006’s “Happy Hollow,” “Vitriola” reunites Kasher, guitarist/singer Ted Stevens and bassist Matt Maginn with founding drummer Clint Schnase and co-producer Mike Mogis. They’re joined by Patrick Newberry on keys and touring mainstay Megan Siebe on cello.
With a refreshed lineup intact, the band also dropped a defiant new single Thursday called “Barricades,” which features a lyric video and carries “Vitriola’s” themes of contentious political discourse and societal divisions.
Doing Other Projects
Outside of “Vitriola’s” release, Cursive members released solo records while Kasher wrote and directed a movie called “No Resolution.” They also collectively own and operate an Omaha-based bar and venue called O’Leavers, and run their own record label, 15 Passenger, through which they’re steadily reissuing their remastered back catalog and a host of new albums.
“We were getting all the rights to the Cursive masters back, and we decided we should create a new space for them. We also started speculating about what else could it be, and this is what we’ve been doing since we were teenagers,” Kasher said. “It’s an exciting thing to just start a label, so it’s really from that same kind of entrepreneurial, fun approach and attitude.”