words by Erin Wolf
Texas may not readily be the first in line to lay claim to bands of a darker state of composition, but turns out, once one name is pulled up, a bunch of others magnetize. Dallas, Texas trio Nervous Curtains and its leader, Sean Kirkpatrick (the pAper chAse, the Falcon Project, Spoon), are part of that cold breeze that is slightly stunning the sun-baked atmosphere of their environs, their heavy keys and percussion wallop (compliments of Ian Hamilton and Robert Anderson) droning and electrifying simultaneously with the sting of sinister lyrics. And of course, dark knows dark, so Kirkpatrick readily lists out his likeminded fellow Texans. Read on for those and take a listen to Nervous Curtains’ latest album, Fake Infinity, here. Milwaukee’s own Latest Flame Records released it and is welcoming the band to Milwaukee tonight for a show at the Riverwest Public House. Kirkpatrick gives the details.
How long have you been playing music?
I started playing piano in 1982. Then, I joined my first rock band in 1989. I’ve been playing in bands, ever since.
How did you learn of Latest Flame Records?
I had a copy of the great album by the Belgian band Hitch which was released on Latest Flame. When I was looking for somebody to help us release our first record, I scanned my record collection and jotted down all the addresses I could find. Dan Hanke was the first person to respond favorably, and we hit it off.
Your musical projects are always piano-keys-centric — do you feel that gives you even more creative license?
People can be creative with any instrument. Keyboards are just interesting to me, and there is quite a lot that can be done sonically and texturally with piano, synth and drums. So far, I don’t feel like we’ve hit a wall with our sound. It’s still expanding. We’re pushing it out. If I ever start to feel bored with how things are sounding, we’ve got more options to explore.
What’s the focus, lyrically, on your newest music?
It’s all centered around the after-shock or hangover beyond the flashes of euphoria experience in younger days. It’s about when Utopian ideals don’t pan out in the real world. There’s something about vacillating wildly between feelings of glorious success and total failure. I write about the brain, parasites, possession (physical and spiritual), autism, and the absolutely wicked summer heat. There is a subtle reference to the video for ZZ Top’s “Rough Boy”. The album closer tells you to “kill your dreams before they kill you.” I consider this great advice for anyone, especially artists and musicians.
A reviewer in your hometown wrote of the new album, “There must be something dark in the water supply. Lately, it seems that a good number of local releases are trying to out-somber one another.” That true? Who else in your city is writing from the underground?
Haha. I think I remember seeing that. Pinkish Black is another synth and drums group that is absurdly dark, heavy and amazing. Their debut LP comes out next month on Handmade Birds Records. The Angelus is a southern gothic guitar-based group that put out an excellent and somber album called On a Dark and Barren Land last year. True Widow has a somewhat doom-y element. Shiny Around the Edges is a good band with some Swans-type elements. I can’t think of any others at the moment.