Tim Kasher of Cursive [Interview]


In past interviews I would never be able to discuss R Kelly, conjoined twins, helicopter chases, and haunting ghosts all in one conversation, but this is first time I’ve spoken to Tim Kasher. The front man of indie-rock group, Cursive, is admittedly a day dreamer as he explained to me “I usually think up lavish and large plans, and then turn them down.” True indeed. Over the fifteen year span he’s released albums, he’s repeatedly suggested an attempt to move away from writing concept albums (though unsuccessfully, we hold him to no fault), but I Am Gemini (released 2/21/12) continues this pattern. We spoke with Kasher before he began his tour, which has him playing The Great American Music Hall tonight for Noise Pop Festival (And if you’re lucky, we might still have tickets available on our app).

SF Critic: Are you somebody that often comes up with a random fact or something off topic during a conversation?

Tim Kasher: Yeah. Is that a personality trait or something?

SF Critic: I would say it is. My roommate is like that.

Tim Kasher: I really like waking up in the morning and drumming up something that is so random and off-topic for me. Then I just lay in bed processing that and then that will be the first thing I like talking about in the morning.

SF Critic: So what would be the idea that came to mind this morning?

Tim Kasher: This morning I was alone so I didn’t have anyone to talk to, so I’ve already forgotten.

SF Critic: I always forget my dreams.

Tim Kasher: I have some important research that I really need to get on top of. I just recently acknowledged there is this really terrifying haunted house with something really wrong going on in one of the rooms with a women. I’ve just recently acknowledged that I’ve been dreaming about this for years, and years. I really need to write it down and figure it out.

SF Critic: Wow.

Tim Kasher: Doesn’t that sound a little scary? There is some mystery going on in my head that is trying to be told in this odd dream that I can never quite remember enough! I think about it that afternoon, but it’s alway hazy.

“I just recently acknowledged there is this really terrifying haunted house with something really wrong going on in one of the rooms with a women. I’ve just recently acknowledged that I’ve been dreaming about this for years, and years.”

SF Critic: Is there any other dream you used have on a regular basis?

Tim Kasher: When I was young I never the falling dream. A common dream I’ve had, I shouldn’t say common like “common people,” the oh geez–I didn’t feel college dream–like I forgot to go to a certain class. I will always end up running through house and hiding behind a couch, but then the helicopter shines its lights on me.

SF Critic: Do your dreams ever translate into songs for your album?

Tim Kasher: That seems like a question where perhaps they do, but nothing comes to mind. [Pause] I just remembered a song that was a goodbye speech called “After Crash.” I kept dreaming of being in a car crash. It wasn’t becoming a problem, it was this (inaudible) for me.

SF Critic: If you don’t mind, for some of our readers who will be unfamiliar with your work, do you mind giving the structure of I Am Gemini?

Tim Kasher: I can give you a basic, really general one. It’s about a set of twin brothers that were conjoined and separated at birth. The album starts with a good and evil one, in the lament sense of it. The good brother is living in the house of his biological parents that passed away. In the house he hears all these voice and it turns out it’s the voice of his brother. The twin brother takes him under his wing, and then takes over his persona and shackles him, the good one, in the house while going out in the town and wreaking havoc. He comes back and the good one fights back. I’m really speeding through it. At the end, it’s up for interpretation, but it’s kind of a classic tale of this is just one person’s battle of good and evil in their head.

SF Critic: I’m kind of amazed you managed to fit that into seventy minutes.

Tim Kasher: [Laughs] It ended up being pretty surreal because there is only so much you can say with the music. There were edits, where [before] it was all laid out more literally, to my taste it’s best to write things with a little mystery to them. By the final rewrite, I kept things vague so that I wasn’t dumbing down the story by laying everything out for people.

SF Critic: I think that’s a valid point. Could you ever see I Am Gemini acted out in a musical or acted out?

Tim Kasher: Yeah. It would be hard to conceive because I could see it done really poorly or cheesy. Assuming it was done well, with the right people and the right taste, then absolutely that would be so fun to see it on that. You asked me about my day dreaming and that’s what it is. That’s how these ideas start. That’s how I usually day dream. “Wow, I’l write this album and it will be the score for this grand musical,” and then I kept pulling the reigns back and reminding myself that’s a lot of fun to dream about, really I should just be focusing on this album and making it as well as I can.

SF Critic: I really hope you continue to dream in that sense, and it comes to fruition. I know you had interest in doing screen plays and things of that nature. To conclude this interview, for all of our readers who are unfamiliar with your work having heard that you’re a day dreamer and this being a story line or play, how is I Am Gemini different conceptually, or structurally, from R Kelly’sTrapped In The Closet?

Tim Kasher: [laughs] You know I really enjoyed it. I think they wouldn’t be incredibly different. There are ways that R Kelly, some of his songs don’t propel the story as much as others; and in that same way with I Am Gemini I think that’s the way stories written to music can be sometimes, but I think the difference I’ll be so bold to say that it has more focus. Trapped In The Closet, if I were to give it a critique, it seems maybe at times unsure of its direction and then sort of gets back on track again. I don’t mean to be giving R Kelly a hard time here.