Tim Kasher (The Good Life/Cursive)

I recently exchanged some emails with Tim Kasher, the frontman and songwriter behind both Cursive and The Good Life. We mainly focused on the new album from the latter band, Help Wanted Nights but also touched on some of his future plans – which include a new album from Cursive – and other details.

Because both of your projects seem to be based around your songwriting, how do you decide what becomes a Good Life song and what goes into Cursive?

Upon turning 30, I realized it was time to start writing more substantial pieces, something I had dabbled with in the past, something I had always intended to do, but was lacking the discipline to take on.

At this point I write them at separate times, on different years, but when I initially started writing for both, I had an obnoxious attitude that I took to either. Obnoxious, as in, "I'm writing a Cursive song today, so it's got to be angsty and aggressive" or, "Here goes Good Life - I wonder if I can think up something really Americana and sad…"

Okay, so it was never that ridiculous, but when I look back at how hard I tried to keep the two bands apart - which seemed so vital at the time, to justify the existence of either project - well, I guess it seems
forced to me now. I was shoving either band into genres, though I didn't realize it at the time.

All that being said, these days I just write for a specific album, and as songs pop up that clearly sound like they should be for the other band, well, if it's right for the album, then that takes precedence.

I understand this album shares its name with a screenplay and also punctuates moments from that story. Can you tell me a little more about it?

Upon turning 30, I realized it was time to start writing more substantial pieces, something I had dabbled with in the past, something I had always intended to do, but was lacking the discipline to take on.

So, 30 - you gotta start sometime. Screenplays are a great stepping stone from pop songs and album writing as they are still incredibly skeletal, so in my opinion seem far more manageable than long fiction, which in my early thirties I still feel I lack the discipline to even think about, much less dive into.

As for connecting it to the Good Life album, it's all part of a grander day dream: "What if I could actually get this made, it would need a soundtrack… I could be that soundtrack!" I've been feeling like I've stuck my neck out a bit too far, openly talking about the connected projects, but that's why we released the album separately - at this moment, it's NOT the soundtrack to a screenplay, but the 4th Good Life album. If things go well, then perhaps it will have a chance to be a soundtrack as well. Fingers crossed, leading us to the next question…

What is the status of the screenplay? Do you see it appearing in any other forms (book/play/movie)

The status is remarkably not so dreadful, there are a few different companies who have been working on financing for a very modest, small budgeted film, which is so much more than I could ever possibly ask for,
and pardon me, if I'm coming off too lewdly humble, but seriously, the movie industry is so fucking expensive and seems so insulated that getting anything produced at all is REALLY exciting.

Oh, and there is a stage play version as well - to fully answer your question - and though this will come off as dangerously opportunist, I would love to pass it on to anyone interested in putting it on in their community!!

In a sense, "Album of the Year" was a concept record, as is "Help Wanted Nights" the same could be said for the past few Cursive records. Do you usually form the songs around the idea or do you find that glue afterwards?

Older albums were written in the "find that glue afterwards" sense, but "Album of the YEar" and "Happy Hollow" were written more specifically to fit a theme (Happy Hollow) or narrative (Album…). With "Help Wanted Nights", I'm hoping listeners will regard it as loosely thematic, but not heavily conceptualized.

Good Life records seem to follow right after Cursive records; even when you took a relatively longer break, it still seemed to hit the next year. Is that something to do with how your write?
I thought Cursive records were following the Good Life records, ha ha ha. If it has anything to do with how I write, I wouldn't know what it is… I think it's just the timing of it all; by the time one band puts out a record, it seems like the other band is overdue to record one.

The new album seems much more optimistic than Album of the Year does that have anything to do with your moving to LA?

No. I actually just moved to LA in April, as the record was being mixed. But I appreciate you recognizing it as more optimistic! I certainly think it's more optimistic, or at the very least shows a broader range of emotions.  Interviews I've been doing lately have been regarding it as depressing, and though I can't tell them they're listening to it wrong, I can't help but wonder if they are only wallowing in the darker material.

How was the tour with Mastodon / Against Me?

Honestly, incredibly fun. I had no idea what to expect going into it, and it ended up being one of the best tours I have ever done. I think I'm getting better at enjoying tour - or maybe I enjoy them more because
I don't tour as endlessly as I used to.  All the bands were sweethearts - I hope that doesn't soil Mastodon's reputation.

What's next for you?

The Good Life is doing shows throughout the fall, and I'll be working on Cursive songs in between the tours. I will likely catch some movies and drink amongst friends as well.