The Good Life: An Interview with Tim Kasher

I love indie rock. Cursive is indie rock. So is Tim’s other band, The Good Life. Sometimes when I listen to Storms of Early Summer, I’ll listen to Album of the Year directly after. They are a part of a whole. A body of work from one of our generations most talented artists. I had the pleasure of drinking with Matt and Tim at the bowling alley in Claremont a few years back before a Cursive show. It was great. I had the pleasure of drinking with Tim at the Casbah before a Good Life show a few years back as well. Music and booze–the bringer together of people and things.

the good lifeOmaha, Nebraska, is known for its rash of indie rock bands that bubbled up to the surface of the mainstream in the past few years. Bands like The Faint, Cursive and Bright Eyes have burst out of obscurity and ‘fringe’ into a quality music-hungry public itching for something new and honest and, of course, relevant. It’s a local scene that has taken its queue’s from like-minded record companies like Dischord and Jade Tree—labels that make the big companies flush with envy.

There, in Omaha, amidst the wind from the Rocky Mountains and the tan and green sea of wheat and corn, are where most of the bands housed on local record company, Saddle Creek, reside. Founded by members of Cursive and The Faint, Saddle Creek has etched out a successful niche in a market that has been rife with poorly conceived music. Saddle Creek, like its contemporaries, offered up the alternative

Tim Kasher, lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Cursive, has another band that many neophyte Cursive fans may be unfamiliar with called, The Good Life. Originally started as an alternative outlet for Tim’s prolific songwriting, The Good Life has come into its own as one of the great bands that, while maintaining Tim’s vocal style and honest lyrics, separates itself nicely and equally apart from his other project.

The Good Life’s latest outing on Saddle Creek is titled, Album of the Year. All pretense aside, Album of the Year is a trip through the months of the year beginning with that lonely halfling month of April (“Album of the Year”), and ending with that decidedly bright spring month of March (“Two Years This Month”). A highly talented songwriter, Tim takes the listener on a journey of a year in a relationship, a theme that rears its head in almost all of his compositions. Whereas for Cursive, Tim’s lyrics are a bit more esoteric, with The Good Life his prose is much more user-friendly.

Tim was about 14 when he picked up his first guitar and joined his first band, March Hares, with fellow Cursive member and bassist Matt Maginn. Tim’s first recollection of music came when he was a child. “I remember sitting around Sunday morning on the floor as my parents read the paper, and I think that’s what I think of when looking back. I think that’s when I started understanding music as it was coming out of the speakers, I also learned how to put records on because we had all these 7-inch and albums.

“I took some local music lessons when I was a teenager and took some classical guitar lessons when I was in college, but not for very long,” he adds.

“I think at the time they helped, but I’d like to go and take them again. I took some vocal lessons also, just to help me learn how to sing correctly. I think any kind of intensive studying of guitar is helpful.”

Just after Cursive released a split EP, 8 Teeth to Eat You, with Japanese rockers Eastern Youth, Tim had a life-changing experience in the form of a collapsed lung. It was an unfortunate event that took him off the road for several months and made many fans step up to the plate, giving what they could by way of donations to help him pay for the costly operation and rehabilitation. While it was a traumatizing event for Tim, it also was a time of great healing. He says, “It took a while. But doing the vocals for Ugly Organ kind of doubled as therapy. The first day that we started, we looked at each other and thought maybe we should wait another six months, but as we did it my vocals grew stronger every day. I think the positive benefit of something like that happening was that I lived a very healthy lifestyle for a big chunk of time. I was in a smoke-free environment in the hospital for a long time, and when I was recovering I wasn’t drinking at all and getting a lot of sleep. It was actually a good opportune time for my lungs and vocal chords to get cleaned out.”

An experience like that would seem like the kind to change a person—or perhaps the way they go about creating a song. Yet, Tim says, “I don’t ever really feel like it has (changed). As an example, I don’t ever really think about it that much because it was a very mortal experience so it’s kind of a lot different than your run-of-the-mill difficult situation. It’s more serious because you don’t know if you’re living or dying so you kind just shut off, or at least that’s what I did. It’s probably the most emotionless I’ve ever been. So I don’t think it’s really had an effect on anything like that.”

When it comes to writing for The Good Life, Tim says, “It’s not really all that different (from Cursive). I write for both on acoustic guitar and tend to write mostly in my apartment. The difference is that I think I have a tendency to write more Good Life songs because I have a more relaxed approach to writing for that band, just more for the joy of playing guitar and humming along to it and writing lyrics.

“It’s more of a natural process. Cursive is a lot of sitting down and playing guitar but not really coming up with things that I think are right. Those songs get translated so differently when it gets to the band, so sometimes when I bring something that I think is okay, it gets translated by the band and it sounds great. And sometimes I’ll bring something to the band that I think is great and something gets lost in the translation and doesn’t turn out so great.

“I don’t know—I guess it’s more of a profit thing with Cursive and more enjoyable with The Good Life. But I like working, so I like the difficult process,” he adds with a laugh.

If Cursive is ‘buzzworthy,’ then The Good Life is exactly what its name suggests—good but filled with all that ‘life’ stuff that comes with waking up every morning.

Visit for more info on The Good Life

Cursive: An Interview with Matt Maginn

Matt Maginn was a rad interview. Actually the whole band is amazing. Every time they would come to SD we’d meet for a drink, an actual bout of drinking prior to their playing. No attitude, just kindness. A band on the road. I’m still on the fence with regards to their latest record but I enjoy the body of their work, sometimes listener and band aren’t in the same place. I’ll have to take another shot at Happy Hollow. An awesome split they did with Eastern Youth called Eight Teeth to Eat You With should make its way into your collection ASAP!


Tim Kasher sceams that line in the song of the same title in Cursive’s new album, The Ugly Organ, without being perfunctory and with a vengeance reserved for Russian poets and mafioso’s. Cursive’s new album is at times both introspective and slighting, with reference to the band in the third person that sounds surprised that they are playing music. Cursive formed in 1995 when members of the March Hares, Stephen Pedersen, Matt Maginn, and Tim Kasher asked drummer, Clint Schnase to join their new project. From there the band recorded a four song 7″ called The Disruption, on Maginn’s fledgling Indie label Saddle Creek (home to Bright Eyes and The Faint). Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes, was Cursive’s first full length, also released on Saddle Creek. Blinding Stars, is in effect, a an early indicator album, one which tells a tale of what is to come, with brilliant songs and gut wrenching lyrics and Kasher’s unique wail, it had the pretension of a brilliant future.

Matt Maginn, childhood friend of Tim Kasher and the driving low end of one of the most prolific bands in the indie rock world has the world at his fingertips. He helped start and works for the mid-west powerhouse indie label, Saddle Creek, which hosts artists like Bright Eyes, Sorry About Dresden and The Faint. Matt started playing music in his youth, around the age of 14 he started playing in a band yet he had been ‘messing around’ with instruments since he was a young boy. Matt played bass in some early incarnations of Cursive and finally ended up forming Cursive with his friends in the last few years of high school.

Cursive had been looking for a way to add a new dynamic to the already unique sound of Cursive and decided instead of going for the typical keyboard addition, settled on the idea of adding a cello to the band.

“Cello and violin and more of the classical type of instruments, you don’t expect them to be in a rock band a lot of the time. We were looking for a way to add another dimension to the sound and cello provided that. So we went on a luckily very short search for a cello player and it did exactly as we hoped. We wanted to, rather than just add your typical keyboard, which we also did add, we wanted to find an instrument even farther removed from the rock genre.” Matt says.

Indeed, Cursive’s cello makes their brand of rock haunting and interesting without sounding experimental and maintaining certain aesthetics of rock and roll. So while you still had the elements of Cursive’s superior songwriting at work, there was an addition of a distinct new voice to the sound, Gretta Cohn’s contribution to Cursive has rounded out their sound, softened the edges so instead of looking at a high gloss photo, one is forced to look closer, and beneath there is more beauty, like a musical collage.

Writing in Cursive consists of similarities with other bands and their contemporaries, yet the added voice provides fresh challenges. “Usually the ideas of the songs are brought in by Tim and Ted. And everyone writes their own ideas into what they are doing. So they bring the basic framework and we build the rest.”

Tim and Matt have been playing together their whole lives. While they were 14 and 15 years old they played in March Hares and later formed Slow Down Virginia. Matt took lessons, “Everyone, at least all of the current members of Cursive except for Gretta took similar paths (in reference to lessons). We all took lessons for a year or two, to kind of learn the basics and then went out on our own after that. It helps you to develop your own sound and voice, rather than become too trained.”

Matt’s musical influences range from everything from The Clash and the Sex Pistols to U2 and REM to more, “Bizarre, random bands like Squeeze, Guada Canal Diary and other bands like The Specials, The Jam, Untouchables, just all over the place really.”

Matt was one of a number of people who help start Saddle Creek Records. He says that, “It was sort of like a collective where everybody did their thing and would pool their money together to help release the records. It really existed that way until 96 or 97 then it was sort of restructured by Rob and Mike Mogiss and in 98 Rob quit his full time job to work on the label. It was a conglomeration of current members of The Faint and Cursive that sort started the label.”

A lot of what goes into running an independent label is being thrifty, having a bunch of kick ass bands on the label and being smart about expenditures. Matt adds that, “the way Saddle Creek is run its still a collective, other bands helping each other out and even helping other bands out in Omaha. It’s pretty community oriented.”

The Ugly Organ, was recorded at Presto, Mike Mogiss’s studio in Lincoln, NB. “The way he does it there he records the main instruments; guitars, drums, base and cello onto two inch analog tape and then dumps it down into digital. So you get the ease of use with digital and the analog sound.”

Cursive is coming to your town, touring in support of The Ugly Organ, with Pedersen’s new band, Criteria. There is hundreds of bands out there but Cursive is one you should go and check out.

For more info, go to

Or info on Saddle Creek, visit