The Math Rock Times
Interview with Curse League
A: Alexandria - (bass)
J: Jake - (drums, guitar, lead vocals)
C: Chester - (guitar, drums, vocals)
K: Kai - (guitar)
Hi Curse League! Please introduce yourselves.
A: 24! Based in Seattle, born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska.
J: I'm 23 years old, Kai and I are both from the Seattle area.
C: I'm 26. Born in Kentucky, raised in Massachusetts. I’m a masshole!
K: 24 years old, I grew up in a suburb called Redmond, WA and now live in Seattle. I actually grew up playing in bands with Jake!
Were any of you in any other bands that you feel Curse League fans should know about?
A: I've been writing my own music under the name Rabbitkeeper for a couple years now. We haven't played a show as of yet, but very soon. You can find some tracks on my partner's label, Crying Man Records. cryingmanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/mister-caves-human-shield
J: When I was in high school Kai and I played in a Built to Spill esque indie rock band called Sibling Rivalry. It was a six piece which was crazy hard to coordinate with but was super fun. We went on one west coast tour and played this gnarly West Oakland house show and got offered cocaine over a trash fire. We played a cover of Teenage Dirtbag and people went nuts for it, so that was pretty fun!
C: Kai and I used to play guitar in a surf-pop band called Wild Wants. Before that I played the sax in some ska bands.
K: Jake and I played in a band called Sibling Rivalry in high school. Super strong Built to Spill vibes. (Fun fact, Jake only played guitar in this project) I also played in a surf pop band with Chester in a band called Wild Wants. Super proud of both projects, made some sweet records!
How did Curse League get started? What does the band name mean?
A: I wasn't a part of the band for the first year and a half. I moved to Seattle 4 years ago, and immediately found a group to play in. We shared multiple bills with Kai and Chester's previous band. They eventually asked me to try out for bass, and I guess I made the cut.
Not sure what the band name means for the rest of the boys, but I sure do have some awful luck.
J: It's funny to think about how Curse League started because it just felt so scrappy and everything was so hard to play. It took us like 6 months to write two songs and then after that I left to Ecuador for three months. So it took a long time to get our feet off the ground.
C: Curse League was a side project that started when Kai and I were still in Wild Wants. Kai got me back into math rock by showing me Postmadonna's self-titled and then he convinced me to do Curse League with him. Kai recruited Jake to play drums. I'm always mind blown that this is Jake's first project playing drums. Jake came up with the band name, but I don’t think it ever had a meaning. Kai and I met Alex through playing shows with her old band, Shucks.
K: I had been trying to be in a math rock band for a long time. In fact, Jake introduced me to math rock in high school, exclaiming "look at this weird band that our drummer listens to. Too weird for me!" Fortunately, he eventually came around and was willing to play in a math project with Chester and me. I met Chester through playing in Wild Wants together and being a stupid big fan of his solo work (GRAPE KOI!). Interestingly, math rock was old news for him and he introduced me some math rock classics - Tera Melos, and Monster Machismo. After a tour, we got Alex on board to play bass. She picked up our music super quick and also introduced me to some other sweet tunes including Pile. Chester and I knew her from her work in Shucks (which is also a stellar Seattle band!) Hmm... what does Curse League mean? Well, I like to imagine Curse League as a little league baseball team with purple and black uniforms. Or maybe as a league of magicians trying to rid the world of expletives.
Who or what inspires your musical creativity the most?
A: My partner Cameron is a musical gem. Most of our time spent together is writing and recording.
J: I love looking at music historically and exploring where my favorite musicians cut their teeth. For instance, I recently got pretty into Neil Peart and listened to his drumming intently for a while and then learned that he was really inspired by Tony Williams who played with Miles Davis. Then I got really into Tony Williams and found out he was very inspired by Alan Dawson. In the end it seems like if anybody's ever doing anything cool and new in music, some jazz guy was probably doing it first.
C: I usually go to live shows for musical inspiration. I’ve noticed I practice more than usual after I've seen a cool band perform. Except for CHON. I contemplate quitting guitar every time I see them play. And they're touring with TTNG and Tricot this year?! Heh, time to put my guitar up on Craigslist.
K: I know this is really general, but for me, it is really high quality, intentional art. I define that as art that tries hard to be unique, yet somehow accessible. I think people that do this include Lin- Manuel Miranda, and Totorro.
Who are your current and all time favorite bands?
A: I'm a big fan of Pile, Thin Lizzy, and Yes.
J: Built to Spill has always been my favorite band. I grew up with Keep it like a Secret playing on repeat in my car. I also saw Duck Little Brother Duck play at Ground Zero teen center and it really launched me into my love for math rock. One of my favorite thing about Curse League is that we love showing each other new music and so when we find a new band we really like or when we are touring we talk about music a lot and have a lot of fun with it. You can tell that we all have different perspectives and philosophies but I think the blend together well.
C: My all time favorite bands are Tera Melos, Bloc Party, Pirouette, Streetlight Manifesto, Number Twelve Looks Like You, Refused, Minus The Bear, and Big D & The Kids Table. I'm definitely missing some. Right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Cattle Drums, Algernon Cadwallader, Monster Machismo, and Postmadonna.
K: My all-time favorite bands include Refused, Piglet, Cattle Drums, Tera Melos, CHON, Totorro, Vulfpeck, Postmadonna, Blis, and Rage Against the Machine. My guilty pleasure is Taking Back Sunday. Their album "Where You Want To Be" was my middle school anthem. Gotta love them dual vocal melodies! Currently, I am listening to Dan Deacon, Charly Bliss, George Benson, Space Corolla, and Milton Man Gogh.
What are you trying to convey through your music?
A: I just wanna write some hot tracks, dude.
If it don't sound like a hot bowl of mac and cheese, get that outta here.
J: When we wrote our EP I wanted to make people think a lot but not feel so much when they were listening to our music. I think that led to some complicated mathy riffage and some interesting lyrics but it felt a little bit shallow too. We've always wanted to flirt with the intersection of accessible music and technical math rock, and I think we've come closer to that goal on this record. This time around I tried to write a story about two characters in a completely fictional story but still allow my own feelings to bleed in a bit more. I think one worthy challenge in songwriting is trying to write lyrics that correspond to the moods and tones and melodies happening a song or a record. It's like when you see a ballet and the pit orchestra plays to the dancers and vice versa and some instruments or melodies represent certain parts of the story. I think if I could bring that philosophy into math rock it would be really cool. I also think nobody would really care that much haha.
C: For a while I was trying to write riffs that people would mosh to. But then we played this house show where the crowd kinda hovered over this one section of the room and Kai's pedalboard got stomped hard but not in a good way. Rest in peace, Boss Chorus pedal. Nowadays I'm all about those head boppy riffs.
K: Intention to the art, and trying our best! I hope it inspires people to try their best to create good art.
Where would you like to play on tour?
A: The east coast would be tight, but really anywhere is cool with me.
J: I would love to play a packed house show in Philadelphia.
C: I'd love to tour the east coast because that's where I was introduced to DIY and house shows. The midwest would be fun too. I wanna play frisbee outside the American Football house. Maybe do an Audiotree if they’d let us?
K: Well, it would be cool to tour Japan! A lot of awesome math rock bands come out of there. Or maybe somewhere a little more off the beaten path. Russia certainly would be interesting!
Thank you for taking the time to talk with The Math Rock Times, I hope to see you play live someday!
TMRT T-Shirts On Sale Now! Click Picture To Buy