It's a cliché as old as the genre that spawned it-a rock musician calling the road home. The mythology of life on the road has been documented in Willie Nelson songs, Henry Rollins' spoken-word albums and Bon Jovi videos. Cursive frontman Tim Kasher is just another tenant in the transitory asphalt hotel. At the end of the tour, he's homeless.
"It's hard to pick a spot," Kasher says. "I think I can move in somewhere in January. Last year, I had an apartment and I gave it up in January because I was going to be gone most of the year. It's been nice because I've had a tendency to go on vacation to other cities [and] I haven't been tied down to anything. But I'm ready to switch gears back into something."
Along with guitarist Ted Stephens, bassist Matt Maginn, cellist Gretta Cohn and drummer Clint Schnase, Kasher and Cursive are currently in the midst of their third U.S. tour, and fourth tour overall in 2003. It's even more for Kasher, who recently performed a series of solo dates in support of Rilo Kiley.
"I had a lot of fun doing that," Kasher says. "People thought, myself included, that it was a little crazy to go out on tour when I actually had time off. But I don't live anywhere right now and Rilo Kiley are good friends of mine.
"It was kinda like paid vacation."
Though Kasher has no plans to release any solo material, he did finish writing the newest album for his Cure-sounding side project, The Good Life. The album is being shelved for now, as Cursive is still in full swing to promote their newest release, The Ugly Organ.
On Organ, Kasher continues his trend of writing searing treatises about his personal relationships. One of their first albums chronicled the deterioration of Kasher's marriage. On 2000's Domestica, Kasher painstakingly accounted his real-life divorce. Ugly Organ is, as the name suggests, about the rash of shallow sex that follows the end of long-term monogamy. In typical tunes like "Butcher the Song" and "The Recluse," the emotional tell-all is laid over a bed of Fugazi-esque guitars and Modest Mouse-kateer melodies, ending up sounding like Bright Eyes with balls.
Lyrics like "the people... they just want pain," from "Butcher the Song" and "keep churning out those hits/till it's all the same old shit," insinuate a love-hate relationship with the music industry. But Kasher is quick to defend the business that, while not keeping him out of trouble or in a stable home, does keep him employed.
"I don't have that stereotypical angst toward the music industry," he says. "I don't have any reason to. I've been thinking about it a lot lately, about how the music industry gets a bum rap for being so sleazy. I kinda think the film industry is worse.
"We're really pampered to be on [Omaha, Neb. record label] Saddle Creek and to be working with our friends. So it would sound dumb coming from me to say the music industry is sleazy or jaded, because it's kind of idealistic, what we're doing."
Cursive is one of many bands that have benefited from the recent success of Saddle Creek. The Ugly Organ has joined albums by The Faint and Bright Eyes in becoming critical favorites and bringing a higher level of attention to the label. Kasher, however, is hesitant to identify any one band that ignited the small record label's rise to near-mainstream popularity.
"It's kind of like the chicken or the egg conversation," he says. "Who's to blame or who's to thank for where everyone is? Everyone's been pulling each other up at different times and everyone seems to be so incredibly reciprocal. At least with these primary bands like Bright Eyes and The Faint and Cursive, we certainly have been given these certain advantages because Saddle Creek has been doing so well.
It's a good relationship."
Cursive performs at The Scene, 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 23. $14. 858-505-9111.