Column 85: The rest of Ted; see you next week…

Category: Blog — @ 11:38 am July 13, 2006

For a record that doesn’t come out for another month, a lot of people have heard Happy Hollow, and all of them have an opinion. It’s a CD that must be played loudly on first listen. You won’t get it if you listen to it on your computer while you pay your bills. Ted sounds kinda here, but he was smiling through most of the interview (even though I wasn’t there to see it).

Column 85: Leftovers and Afterthoughts
Outtakes from the Cursive interviews
Like the last time I wrote about Cursive, there was so much gleaned from the interviews that I simply didn’t (couldn’t) fit it all into the story, enough overspill, in fact, to fill a column. This time, the comments come from Ted Stevens.

Turns out, Stevens was aware of the column I wrote a couple weeks ago, which lauded the new Cursive album, Happy Hollow, and lambasted those who whined that “it doesn’t sound like the old Cursive I grew up with.” In the middle of our interview, Stevens went off on a tangent about criticism, and my little piggies just continued to type it all down.

“We don’t hear the shit-talking or the doubt that you’re hearing,” he said. “We went out on a limb (last winter) when we performed these songs before they were ready. Tim (Kasher) asked for criticism from the crowd. I didn’t want to hear shit. I was thinking ‘These songs aren’t finished and we’re not ready and they’re not done.’ I think people need to chill.”

Stevens went on to give his views of criticism in general. “It’s not going to change my experience at all,” he said. “Despite what we heard, we kept our heads down and kept making the record. We thought it was good and we chose the songs we chose from the batch because we thought they were good together. If these people don’t like horns, I don’t give a shit.”

He continued: “We talked about it over lunch. Everyone has a different tolerance for criticism. If you’re in a band and you go out and Google yourself you better have a thick skin and be ready to deal with some bullshit. I really hate the Internet and only spend as much time on there as I need to. As a research tool, it’s pretty awful. It’s misused and the information is poor and obsolete, and there are no fact checkers. If you’re getting your information out of a blog room, you’re not getting the real story.”

But as Stevens went on, it became obvious that he does care about criticism and reads all the reviews. He read my take on Mayday’s I Know Your Troubles Been Long, an 8-track analog recording from ’03 that I think is one of the best things that he’s ever done, but that got flambeaued by critics. “It got not a lot of love or respect,” Stevens said. “It sent me into a different phase, which was the next record. At that point, I was ready to read all that shit, but fortunately the reviews were better for Bushido Karaoke.

“Some of the criticism — the rumors that we’re sucking — that happens every time we put out a record. They say the last record was better, and two weeks later they say the new one is better. I’m resigned to not caring. If we’re going to make records, we’re going to have to put up with it.”

Whew! Strong words from deep inside the foxhole.

Stevens and Co. are well aware that criticism comes with the territory. So do all musicians lucky enough and talented enough and hard-working enough to make a living making music. A few slings and arrows are a small price to pay, especially when you’re selling out venues like The Mercury Lounge and The Bowery Ballroom in New York City like Cursive did earlier this week — which is another teaser that you’re coo-coo if you don’t catch the band this Saturday at Sokol Auditorium.

For you Mayday fans who are wondering, Stevens has dedicated himself lock-stock-and-barrel to Cursive for the foreseeable future. When I asked him if he’s contemplating the next Mayday album while he bumps around in the back of the van, he was less than enthusiastic in his response.

“I don’t know. I’m getting ideas,” he said, “but I can’t say I’m thinking about the new Mayday record. I daydream about what I should be doing next, and honestly, I have thought about maybe trying something else by myself, something creative. Right now, I’m letting Cursive be my outlet for the next couple years, and hopefully I’ll keep my sanity and will want to do more.

“I’ve given up a lot of decision-making and control of my life. Not that I’m a martyr — no pun intended. I agreed to put my life in Cursive’s hands for a long time, and I’m okay with that. It does cramp my personal life a little bit. I miss my girlfriend and family.”

Stevens draws a grueling picture of touring, “but we’re never lonely,” he said. “You have to be smiling and thanking people when the kids are rocking out. It’s a glorified lifestyle, and it’s going to shorten all of our lives.”

“All day you’re watching America pass by so fast, you get used to that change of scenery. Then you get back to Omaha and it seems slow. Being with our families and girlfriends, it’s where we feel the best. But it’s a human thing — you have to keep moving and once you stop, things get kind of weird. I’ve been getting better at switching between tour mode and down-time mode. But I’m saying that on day three.”

What will he be saying on day 33… or 333?

After all this Cursive love, I’m gonna miss the big show Saturday night as I’ll be out of town through next week. Look for an update next Wednesday. Have a good weekend.

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