PROGRESS REPORT: Sequencing their sixth studio LP, Mama, I’m Swollen, recorded at Mike Mogis’ ARC Studios, for release in Spring 2009.
“We’re in that screwed-around-too-long-something’s-gonna-break phase,” says Cursive bassist Matt Maginn. This time it’s not the band — though Cursive dissolves and reforms after each album, they’re past that decision and wrapping up Mama, I’m Swollen. They already finished recording at Mike Mogis’ Omaha studio and they’ve mastered individual tracks. Picking the order’s been the challenge. “I think [the album] really sounds like the band going into a different phase from the beginning to the end,” Maginn explains. They’re deciding how to balance those phases.
According to Maginn, Mama, I’m Swollen sounds most like Cursive’s first two records; it’s darker and more melancholy — though not all melancholy, says Tim Kasher. “If there’s anything I can recognize, it’s moodier, certainly moodier than Happy Hollow. We were searching to go in such a far direction from [2003’s] The Ugly Organ that [Happy Hollow] was kinda bashed out, brighter overall,” Kasher says. “This time around we didn’t have any previous records that we hated so much that we had to go so grossly in the opposite direction.” For the record, Kasher says he doesn’t hate The Ugly Organ, though he seems uncomfortable rehashing past albums as much as past line-ups.
Maginn and Kasher have different methods of talking about their new album and old band — Maginn is self-deprecating, Kasher, a little more self-conscious. But now that half of Cursive left Omaha (Maginn lives in Missouri and works for Team Love, Kasher is in Los Angeles, recording solo and writing screenplays) their planning and discussions happen in short bursts. Mama, I’m Swollen’s songs were really polished by playing them live. “Just being forced to know it well enough to not fuck it up live brings it closer to you,” says Maginn of their last few “mostly new stuff” shows. Kasher wrote “pretty nonstop” just to have completed songs ready for the band. “There’s a decent amount of money, flying everybody in and putting everybody up,” he says. “If I were to fuck off one month and go off on some kind of tangent and then everybody shows up and there’s no songs, I would have been in a lot of trouble.” Right now Maginn’s favorite song from Mama, I’m Swollen is one of its “odd” ones, “Let Me Up.” Cursive debuted the song on Daytrotter back in May. Kasher says the track hasn’t changed since the Daytrotter session, though “Let Me Up” did need “a lot of extra fun epic production.” It was not only epic, but cinematic as well. “We used a gong. I swore to Ted [Stevens] that I wouldn’t ever reveal that because he was really embarrassed,” Kasher says. “It reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which is precisely why he thought it was a bad idea.”
Unordered Mama, I’m Swollen tracklist:
“Couldn’t Love You Anymore”
“From the Hips”
“In The Now”
“Going To Hell”
“Let Me Up”
“Mama, I’m Satan”
“Mama, I’m Swollen”
“What Have I Done”
You can catch the band on tour this winter:
1/14 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
1/15 – Marquette, MI @ Northern Michigan U
1/16 – Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s
1/17 – Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
1/18 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Hall
1/19 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
1/21 – Columbus, OH @ The Summit
1/22 – Columbia, MO @ Mojos
1/23 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
1/24 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
3/09 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
If there’s a band you want Progress Report to drag out of the studio, or bed, for an update, shout out in the comments or e-mail [email protected].