Interview: Tim Kasher Talks Cursive’s New Album ‘Get Fixed’

Posted: by The Editor

Last month, the venerable art-emo band Cursive semi-surprise-dropped a new record, Get Fixed, just one year after their last full-length Vitriola. Rather than making a double-album out of the boatload of songs they had prepped last year, frontman Tim Kasher explains, the band agreed to drop another record a year later in order to give these tracks the attention they deserve. Slightly before the album came out, we talked to Kasher about the themes and thoughts behind the album, references to older Cursive works, and what it’s like to play in a rock band while aging into adulthood.

As best as I understand, the songs on Get Fixed were from the Vitriola sessions, right?

It’s kinda more of a grab bag, I guess. There are a few songs that were front runners to be on that one, but we had a lotta cooks in the kitchen—which isn’t a bad thing. So instead of leaving some of our favorite stuff on the cutting room floor, we made an agreement to do this album a year later. That was songs like “Barricades,” “Content Conman,” “Get Fixed.” Vitriola was initially gonna be called Get Fixed, but we ended up moving that song over and took the title with it. There’s another batch of songs, “What’s Gotten Into You?,” “I Am Goddamn.” We had so many songs we didn’t even have time to get to all of them.

Those were a group of songs—all we did was a live take and say, “Let’s worry about these later. We already have enough for the record, so let’s look at these next year.” There’s even more songs, like “Black Hole Town,” “Marigolds,” and “Stranded Satellite” that I’d written during the Vitriola sessions, but I didn’t even get a chance to show them to the band. They didn’t even get the chance to hear them until about six months ago. It’s all from the Vitriola sessions, but the reason I like laying it out so specifically is ‘cause I wanna dispel anyone’s thoughts that these songs didn’t make it onto Vitriola or something. It’s really just that we had a surplus and we didn’t wanna do a double album. 

Right, it’s easy to hear that and think, “Oh it’s a b-sides album.”

Also, if we’re putting out a b-sides album, I’d be the first person to say so. It’s important to me that people understand what I consider to be our a-sides stuff. We have b-sides no one’s heard yet. There’s still a whole next block of songs we’re sitting on. We’ll probably do something with them. They’ll also still songs we quite like. There’s a whole fucking grading system, even with b-sides. Like, there’s songs, even if we call them b-sides there’s some that’s like, “Even if we call it that I still don’t want anyone to hear it.” But there’s still some we like. They might be kinda quirky, kinda weird, but I’d still like people to hear them. They just weren’t suitable for either of these albums. 

It’s awesome to hear that after Cursive took such a long break we’re getting nearly three albums worth of new material.

I hope that’s good, we don’t wanna come off as too exhausting for listeners. That’s why we didn’t wanna do the double album. This way, though, we hope the songs get the proper attention we feel like they deserve. None of it was intentional, it really was just that we had, in our opinion, a good run and a surplus of material. This isn’t the first time we’ve done this; for Happy Hollow we had over 20 songs, but those were songs that truly ended up as b-sides. We didn’t walk away from that thinking we had a double album. We knew some were for Happy Hollow and some were weird and wouldn’t fit. 

It’s definitely a good thing. Would you say the rest of Get Fixed, lyrically, is in the same vein as Vitriola?

In some ways yeah. But some [like] “Content Conman,” one of the frontrunners to be on Vitriola, the actual content doesn’t really fit with either of the albums. We ended up releasing it as an exclusive single last year around FEST and we placed it toward the end of the album ‘cause we wanted it to be on the album but weren’t sure. There’s no strict concept or theme on either record but that one felt too out of theme for Vitriola

I’m curious what your lyrical  frame of mind was while writing “Stranded Satellite”?

I don’t wanna take away from anyone else’s impressions or takeaway of a song, but I wrote the music for it a year ago probably. The lyrics I wrote about half a year ago in the middle of a pretty excessive tour block with Cursive and it’s a thinly veiled “I live on the road and it seems it’s all I ever do” type of song. 

I also wanted to ask about the cello on Vitriola. That was a big deal for a lot of people and a lot of people saw that as a sort of response or return to the style of The Ugly Organ. First how did the integration of cello happen again? Did it just feel natural for these songs?

Organic is a dull word these days, but the process was organic. We started playing with Megan Siebe, who’s become one of my closest friends, when Cursive did The Ugly Organ reissue tour in 2015, I think. We all got along well and continued playing together and it was a natural progression, like, “We’re writing stuff and Megan plays with us live, so if we don’t write cello for these songs, she’s gonna play live anyway. Shouldn’t we just accept we have cello in the band again?”

Was there ever any concern that people would have the expectation this would be, like, The Ugly Organ part 2?

I didn’t really think of it but that’s reasonable. There’s a point where you just have to make these decisions and stand by them and not worry too much on specific criticisms. A greater concern I had was for any critic would suggest we were trying to rehash some sort of older glory. 

I wouldn’t say that’s the case, but it definitely feels a lot like older Cursive. 

Yeah, and I think there’s three reasons that’s the case. The biggest reason is Clint [Schnase] was playing with us again. It’s not so much in specific drum beats, ‘cause I could see people being like, “I don’t see why the drums make these songs sound like older Cursive,” but with Clint back in the band it felt like I was writing for that band. It was an older, more familiar feel for me and I think the songs I ended up writing flt more reminiscent of that older stuff. It felt natural because I was writing for Clint again.

This is also the first time we’ve worked with Mike Mogis since Happy Hollow, and he has a sound. That’s what he does with our music. Beefing up the guitar parts with cello, certainly there’s gonna be comparisons that I didn’t want there to be. I didn’t want it to come off as similarly as it did. But at the same time, we’re just a band. If it sounds like we’re being influenced by our older stuff, that’s not a big deal, versus being influenced by, like, Johnny Greenwood or something like that. 

Are there any songs in particular you’re looking forward to people hearing?

For me the particular one is a song called “Look What’s Become of Us.” It’s an interesting way that putting albums together works—it’s one of my favorites on both of these. It’s the type of song that as a songwriter you think people are gonna really respond to, but among all our friends and associates who’ve heard it no one seems to care for it. Does that make it a b-side? Of course not, it’s one of my favorites. But I conceded to be like, “Let’s sit on it for a little bit, but i’m not gonna not release it.”

My feelings never changed, but I don’t think anyone else is gonna agree with me. I think I just like shit that’s a little raunchier, dirtier, and that song fits that mold. “I Am Goddamn” is one we’re all quite proud of. It was one we just didn’t have enough time to get to, but we knew we wanted to return later and see what came of it and we’re all excited about it. 

Is there any one consensus favorite?

“Barricades” has always been strong. “Black Hole Town,” “Stranded Satellite.” These are the newer ones too, so maybe that’s part of it. “What’s Gotten Into You?” is the closer, that one too. I’m gonna just end up saying all the songs at this point, we’re all really proud of it. 

If you were to go back to the Tim of say Such Blinding Stars to Domestica era, and you were to bring him Get Fixed, how do you think he’d feel about it?

I’d like to think I’d be very impressed and excited I was still doing records at 45 years old. That’d probably be my first thought. That and I’m still writing aggressive, discordant music. I’d be pleased with that. Other than that, it’s odd doing the same thing you’ve been doing since you were 15 years old. A lot of people come up to me like, “Oh my god I listened to the shit outta you in high school,” and to them, Cursive from Domestica might as well be 100 years ago. In their lives, it’s part of their nostalgia, it’s so long ago.

But think of how it is for me. Like, I don’t know, I still play songs off Domestica. It doesn’t seem that long ago to me. I imagine Cursive is an office building I go to everyday. It’s been relevant everyday to my life. I get that it’s not relevant to all of their lives. It’s a funny thought, and it makes me, or any songwriter, come off as a dinosaur. But I’ve been with this stuff, working with it, the entire time. I have the arrested development that the person writing Such Blinding Stars isn’t very different from the person who wrote Get Fixed. 

Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison

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