The members of Cursive weren't even sure the band would survive long enough to make a fourth album. While their first three had won them fans and sold moderately well, they were hardly a juggernaut by early 2003. During recording sessions at that time, singer Tim Kasher's lung collapsed, and his band mates were concerned he'd no longer be able to sing. Kasher survived the scare and went back into the studio, the results of which were released as The Ugly Organ, Cursive's defining album.
"We were pretty sure that the record wasn't going to work," bassist Matt Maginn recalls. "The Ugly Organ may not have happened if we were worried about how it would be received. It was so weird and a bit of a departure from the other Cursive stuff. If we were concerned, it would have stifled the creativity, production and everything that happened with that album."
To celebrate the landmark album, the band and label Saddle Creek Records gave it the reissue treatment. A few years in the making, the shiny deluxe edition includes photos, assorted goodies, and, more important for fans of the Omaha-based group, eight B-side and compilation tracks. According to Maginn, the issue was a fond reminder of the band's most prolific recording period, which started with 2001's Burst and Bloom.
While songs from The Ugly Organ remain a strong presence in Cursive's live set, on this tour, the group will include songs such as "Nonsense," which they never play live. Even when they initially toured behind the release, they never played those songs live. "Those are weird songs," Maginn remarks. "They were weird then, and they're weird now."
The Ugly Organ was a success by indie standards, selling a few hundred thousands copies. Though Cursive didn't change their formula for writing and recording music, the process was challenging. Over the past few years, Kasher, Maginn and guitarist Ted Stevens took time off to focus on their side and solo projects. Cursive haven't recorded an album since 2012's I Am Gemini, but last year, they spent a month playing shows and digging deep into their catalog in anticipation of the reissue.
As they have been together as a band for the better part of the past 20 years, it wasn't difficult to reacclimate to one another. "It's pleasantly surprising how quickly you remember everything," Maginn says with a chuckle. "Your muscles just do things for you that you may have forgotten about."
Though they are in casual discussions about putting together a live project, Cursive have no plans to head back into the studio any time soon. "We've been waiting for that inspiration to do something new," Maginn says. "We kept a consistent pace for a while. We finally decided to take our own sweet time from here. Now that we're an older band, we don't have to operate on a two-to-three-year schedule anymore."
Even so, reliving their strongest material has been something they don't take lightly. "It's good to have a good reason to dig out a bunch of songs that maybe wouldn't have made the set list," Maginn, a member of the original lineup, says glowingly. "It's a fun [tour], and [it ] has a purpose . . . and there will be another tour afterward. We have no plans of stopping."
Cursive perform at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (877) 435-9849; www.theglasshouse.us. Sat., 8 p.m. $15. All ages.