Coney Island, in Brooklyn New York , is a historic summer vacation landmark that hosted the seventh annual Siren Music Festival. The festival consisted of two stages on the boardwalk with fourteen indie bands and two DJ's. Cursive, a band who is not new to the indie scene, headlined the Stillwell stage. The folk metal band has been in the industry since 1995 and, after taking a year hiatus, the band came out with their best work to date, Happy Hollow. Bassist Matt Maginn took time from the band's busy schedule to answer some questions about the music industry and their new album.
Kristin: How does it feel to be at historic Coney Island and headlining the Stillwell stage at the Siren Music Festival?
Maginn: Really good, like weird. (Laughs) It is really cool. We were surprised to be asked and it is very historic. Especially coming from the mid west and growing up and learning about New York and Coney Island . You don't really get to see it but then you tell people 'Yeah I am going to play at Coney Island' and they are like 'really?!' They are used to you saying New York. Coney Island, either it is like a carnival like you have really fallen and you are playing a carnival on the weekend or something really cool and nice like siren. (Laughs) It could be either way with us. (Laughs)
Kristin: Happy Hollow has been getting pretty good reviews. How did you deal with the pressure of making a follow up album to your hit The Ugly Organ?
Maginn: Well I think we just kind of felt strongly something different. We don't know why 'The Ugly Organ' got so much attention. We liked it and created what we wanted. When were done recording it we thought 'well we made what we wanted. There is no way that anyone is going to like it.' I think we felt to do what we do and not worry about everyone else. We have always written to make our friends happy and to make them proud of us. We wanted to express our own artistic ideas and visions and all. I think despite all of that there is still pressure in the back of your head. You know there will always be comparisons but in general we try to be free and do what we want to do. Part of that was taking a year off of being a band and considered not being a band any more very strongly. That really allowed us to step away from the pressure and just to come back and do it. I think that worked for us. (Laughs)
Kristin: There has been a lot of set backs in the band's career as of health issues and member changes. How has it affected your music?
Maginn: Health issues were pretty...it just kind of stopped the band for a while. It was pretty scary. Tim has been the song writer since the beginning. The main one and since Ted joined, he's been the other 20-30% song writer. They come in with this basic skeleton of a song and we kind of just write over the top of it. So with member changes it hasn't really been a big of deal as I would have thought. I play bass and really a different dude can play it on the next record and it won't be that big of a deal I don't think. (Laughs) You know what I mean. I think there is a quality you get with people but I think what Cursive does with member changes is...evolve. We try to bring out the good qualities of whoever is playing.
Kristin: The band seems to take a different direction with each album. Have you been writing for a new album?
Maginn: We are working on one right now but not recording or anything. Those guys are starting to write and then eventually we'll get tracks to start to write our own stuff to. That is usually how it works. I might possibly get more technical and possibly harder to listen to. Likely harder to listen to I would think but in a good way. In our way, not like the top 40 way. (Laughs)
Kristin: A fan on your forum wants to know what happened with the split that was supposed to happen with The Cops.
Maginn: Oh! Yeah it was a split 7 inch that we were supposed to do one song each with a band called The Cops. That was supposed to happen a year ago around our tour and so since it didn't happen in time. We kind of both been sitting on those songs and not knowing whether to wait until we tour again or if just to do it anyway. Eventually the songs will come out. Since the timeliness has passed so has the urgency. A lot of it is laziness. (Laughs)
Kristin: How was the music scene in Omaha when you were starting the band and do you think that the success of your band has made an impact on the scene now?
Maginn: I think Omaha has always have had strong bands, like we grew up listening to bands that were an influence to us. In that same way, I hope we have influenced bands that are coming up there too. Regardless of the success, really for us any band that would get on the road and leave Omaha was a complete success in our minds. That was our inspiration. We didn't plan to do really well. We just wanted to go to a different town and get paid for gas and play for a couple of people and hopefully have them like it. From what it looks like now, I think Omaha has and will continue to have a passage of different time periods of bands. I think it will continue and hopefully these newer bands can learn about how to get out there and tour a little bit more. And another thing that changed is that the bands that we saw get out on the road had it harder back then. There was no internet, no cell phone, and everything was expensive long distance calls to book your own shows. You couldn't get a picture of the place online that you were going to play. You didn't know if it was like a shit hole or a nice rock tavern or it could be too glammy and nice for a rock band. Now you can learn everything so easily with the internet so think it is going to make it easier for newer generations of bands to get on the road other than pure competition because everyone else will have it easier. (Laughs)
Kristin: What are you the most proud of that you accomplished from when you started the band in 1995?
Maginn: I think that we are the most proud of [being able] to play at places like Coney Island. We were able to do a Cure tour in 2004 and we technically didn't get to share the same stage but we were on the same tour with them. That was closest we have come. We grew up listening to them and they are a huge influence and very cool for sticking to their artistic guns over the years. I don't think there is anything that eclipses that yet.
Kristin: Have any funny or weird fan experiences to share?
Maginn: Not really. We had people show up and wanted to run away. They wanted us the take them with us like we were going to raise them or something. (Laughs) That was a little weird.