Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Interview : Ted Stevens (Or, "God, Cursive is cool.")

Hungover. Last night I attended the Cursive show in Visalia, California. It was, needless to say, awesome. The last few years, I have gone back in forth in terms of how “in love” with the band I am, but seeing them last night in a tiny pizza parlor with an awesome crowd (chanting the lyrics to every song) was an experience that was almost on a spiritual level. Needless to say, I am currently in the I-fucking-love-Cursive phase again.

It is great to hear a band play in the absolutely perfect setting for their music.

During their set, I was standing next to my friend Shawn Covert, who is in a Fresno band called Primer Skyline, and he also happened to be the first person who ever played me a Cursive song. I still remember driving around in his car 8 years ago and him asking me to take a listen to The Radiator Hums. I heard that song for the first time and I was like, “What the fuck is this?” It was so heavy and so real and so well put together. It is a flawless song. And while I was standing next to Shawn in Visalia, listening to this awesome Cursive show, my thoughts drifted through all the little stories and life moments of mine that are attached to Cursive's songs and their music.

It really meant a lot to me to be in that room last night.

Before the show started, I was lucky enough to correspond with Ted Stevens via email. I had interviewed him once before for Fresno Famous, and – well – that first time I did a horrible job. I have some excuses : was really close to deadline and only had 15 minutes to talk. Granted, I had done a number of “good” 15 minute interviews in the past, but that Fresno Famous interview was not one of them.

The new, awesome interview with Ted is after the jump is wayyyyyyyy better. We talk about hangovers, “success” and his new project Shytbyrds. Seriously. Read on.

Hot Mess Magic : When did you realize that music wasn't just like a phase you were going through in your life? Or do you feel like it is phase of your life that you'll graduate from at some point?

Ted Stevens : I realized that music wasn't just a phase in my life around my mid twenties. Looking back I can remember causing my family a lot of pain and worry because I wouldn't stop touring and I would sacrifice just about everything to keep playing music on the road. I was aware that family members esp. were concerned, but I couldn't offer them any consolation. I just calmly stated that I was going to keep writing and touring and that's that. They still worry that music will leave me wrecked and penniless as a prematurely aged man, but not as much anymore, esp. since we've settled down a bit. There are people in my life who will always make me feel like it is some kind of immature hobby, and not a suitable "direction" for me. B.O.O. H.O.O.

H.M.M. : When you started playing music, what were your initial goals? Did you figure you'd be touring with bands like the Cure and stuff like that? Or were your goals more modest?
T.S. : I started out just thrilled as hell to be traveling and have a label to release records with. I never thought about the goals, I just stayed active. I also played in bands with members who were very organized and serious. They kept me very motivated and on-task, while I provided comic relief and companionship. I never in a million years thought we would ever tour (even in a Curiosa two stage mini festival kind of setting) with the Cure.

H.M.M. : What do you think it takes to achieve success as a musician? And I guess a bigger question would be, what is success for a musician?
T.S. : Success should be something beyond monetary rewards or units sold. I think it should mean that one's music is developing into something special and going somewhere in sense of composition and style. I feel the most satisfaction knowing that I get better at what I do each album, and that I have been quite open to the process of learning what I don't yet understand. Always.

H.M.M. : Last time we talked you were finishing up Bushido Karaoke, a record by your other band, Mayday. Are you working on any other projects of your own now? How is running your own band different than playing in Cursive or contributing to records by your other Omaha brethren?
T.S. : I'm working on a duet with a gentleman named Alex McManus who makes beautiful albums under his moniker, The Bruces. It will be a shorter album then most and feature nice sounding, creatively mixed, home recordings. We've called the project the Shytbyrds until now, but I want to drop that name for something conventional like our two real names with an "&" sign between them.

Running a band has always been hard for me, and Mayday suffered the most for it. I'd like to find a manager for future efforts and organizing my back catalogs.

H.M.M. : What do you think the best cure for a hangover is?
T.S. : That depends. The Mayo clinic recommends drinking less. Smartasses! The best I can come up with is drinking several glasses of water before you go to bed drunk. Alternating glasses of water between drinks throughout an evening will have tremendous results. But if you are just unable to drink water the night before a potential hangover, then . . .

Sleep it off. stay in bed until you feel better.
Vomit. Desperate times require extreme solutions.
Some friends believe greasy fast food, I say mineral water and a cup of tea.

or start drinking again.

DOWNLOAD : Mayday - Dave D. Blues (How to Make it Sting Like a Career) (mp3)
LINK : Mayday Myspace
DOWNLOAD : Cursive - The Martyr
LINK : Cursive Army

Ted's band Cursive is performing at Noisepop tonight in San Francisco.

1 comment:

newseamus said...

Christ man; Thursday was quite a nite.
send me your address ( and I will send you a couple posters!
BTW...this^^^^ was one fine interview!