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SoundCheck: Revisiting the Past Reveals How Far the Kursk Has Come

Courtesy of The Kursk

This month’s SoundCheck episode takes a look at the musical evolution of the Kursk. The band will be on KSMU’s Studio Live Friday, November 8, 2019 at noon, followed by Studio Live Social Hour at Tie & Timber Beer Co. from 6-8 pm that same evening.

Five years ago, Springfield indie-garage rock band the Kursk released their first album, Arrow. The band has been around since 2006, with an array of drummers keeping the beat through the years. To celebrate the anniversary, the band will perform a live show of the album from start to finish in January. I sat down with the band to learn more about the musical journey they’ve been on since Arrow’s release.

Guitarist, vocalist and primary songwriter Skyler Smith tells me the Kursk has grown significantly as a band recently, especially on their new album, released earlier this year.

“I think there’s a – just because of our experiences and stuff – there’s a maturity that we’ve developed as a group,” he said.

Clinton Houseman plays bass and keys for the Kursk and feels like current drummer Seth Randolph has helped facilitate that maturity.

“Yeah, it’s always kind of different, even though Skyler and I have been writing together on and off for about 13 years. It is always different when you bring a third element in, but, bringing in Seth has been pretty miraculous for our songwriting process,” he said.

“And what number of drummer are you? Four? Five?” asked Jessica Balisle.

“Five. Apparently,” said Randolph.

“The mysterious case of the exploding drummers, à la Spinal Tap,” said Houseman.

I ask what’s been the biggest shift in the band’s sound after so many drummers…and Houseman’s response was bold.

“Well, no offense to the other four drummers because I love them all, but Seth is the greatest drummer in the world. He’s the best drummer in the world, he’s also excellent with vocal harmonies,” he said.

So with these developments of the band, the Kursk collectively felt like it would be a good idea to showcase their new, matured style.

“In January 2015, we released our first album, which was called Arrow. And this coming January 2020 will be the five year anniversary. Seth was not our drummer on the album. Our friend Tim Labrie was our drummer at the time. And we’re happy with the album, but we’ve moved on since then. We still play some of those songs, but we’ve just updated them in the last five years. And we got to talking and we decided it would be a cool idea to set up this anniversary show, record it, kind of celebrate where we’ve gone over that span of time,” said Houseman.

Arrow was originally recorded over two or three days. Even though Seth wasn’t with the band yet, Houseman felt like it was the beginning of the era the band is in now.

“We worked through all these songs kind of in a manic fury and then recorded them,” said Houseman.

“So, to document the evolution where the songs have come today, we want to basically do a live album,” said Randolph.”
The live album will be recorded at a show on January 10 at the Riff in Springfield. This kind of pageantry isn’t something the band is used to.

“I feel like we’re a pretty humble band. I don’t know what comes across when you see us live, but individually as people we’re pretty humble. We just kind of like to put in the work and keep going forward,” said Houseman.

Houseman tells me that even though they wouldn’t be the first ones to brag about their own work, Arrow has stood the test of time. Maybe part of that has to do with the band working well together. When you hear and see a band really gelling in their work and personal lives, it makes a difference on how you perceive them.

“We get along really well,” said Houseman.”

“Yeah, this band, we get along better than probably most, I think. We’re really easy going,’” said Randolph.

“It’s pretty chill. We’re good at sort of uplifting each other when we need it,” said Houseman.

“Heck yeah,” said Smith.

“Yeah, we do,” said Randolph.

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