Last year, after a 10-year run that started in seventh grade, the founding members of Reverse the Curse relocated to Columbus from Hiram, a tiny rural Ohio town near Kent.
Their purpose for coming here: to record an album that would raise the bar in every capacity. With Existent, out this Tuesday via Paper+Plastick, they’ve accomplished the musical part of that equation. Now the career side kicks in.
“We put way too much time and effort into it for it not to be heard,” drummer Joey Regets said.
With keyboardist Andy Cook and bassist Connor Johnson already based in Columbus—not to mention producer Eric Cronstein, with whom they planned to recordExistent — the move made sense. So Regets and singer-guitarist Ed Starcher completed the group’s exodus to Columbus and got working.
And boy did they work. Starcher literally lived at Cronstein’s Tone Shoppe studio on the South Side for about two months, a process that cost him a few pounds and countless hours of sleep.
“I always wanted to do that, and I never thought I’d get a chance to actually do it,” Starcher said.So I couldn’t be lazy about it.
The resulting LP sounds like the product of slavish devotion, and not in that overcooked Chinese Democracy sense. Existent is a deep, dark rock record that finds Reverse the Curse discoveringits ownsingular voice. The post-hardcore basement music of 2011 debut Hither and Yon is still in the mix, but it’s accented by a wide swath of dusky ference points.
At points, it sounds like Queens of the Stone Age at their bleariest, Deftones at their dreamiest, Afghan Whigs’ back-alley bar rock and the shambolic old-man blues of Tom Waits.In another sense, it sounds like nobody but Reverse the Curse.
“After the last record, the more weird songs, people encouraged us to go that way, which is the way we wanted,” Starcher said. “People liked when we got weird, I guess.”
They’re hoping a lot more people like it soon. Thursday’s release party at Ace of Cups kicks off smattering of live dates to promote Existent. They’re hoping to haul ass across the U.S.A. — fancy new stage setup in tow — and branch beyond the DIY scene that raised them.
“These songs were meant to be played on a stage,” Regets said.
The ambition is reflected in Existent’s lyrics, which critique the unambitious lifestyle of today’s twentysomethings.
“It’s a record about disguises. It’s all about coming of age and being disguised in whatever way you choose,” Starcher said. “Usually everyone in the band thinks it’s like this positive thing. To me it kind of comes off lazy, like it’s kind of the adult male or female being like, ‘I’m just here.’”
The charge forward will be without Johnson, who opted out of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle last month. His replacement, at least for now, is Tin Armor bassist Matty Golightley. It’s an inconvenient and bittersweet time to part ways with your bandmate since age 12, but Starcher and Regets are too optimistic about the future to focus on the past.
“I think we’re the best band we’ve ever been right now with the current lineup. That’s kind of all that matters to me,” Starcher said.“I mean, things change. I’m just too excited to be doing what we’re about to be doing to be bummed out.”