Q&A: Family Curse’s Erik Bradshaw On Getting The Band Together, Cleveland, And Why 1979 Was The Best Year For Music Ever


Aside from being a go-to pundit on the eBay vs. Discogs debate and a heck of a dust-kicking commentator on punk forums, Erik Bradshaw is the expertly spazzy and spindly singer for local skronk-irkers Family Curse. Peeling paint for about a year with one single under their belts, they will hit the 285 Kent stage tonight, tooting for their brand new split single with L.A. band White Murder.

Why does Family Curse exist?

Seriously? You’re going to drop the existential bomb in the first question? All joking aside, somebody once said that a band should be like a gang. We’re more of a terrorist cell. Who’s laughing now, Amerikkka?

How did the band come to exist?

The same way that all bands do: In a bar, over drinks. My previous band, Golden Error, was over and out. I started singing in Ken’s band, Glooms, but that ground to a halt after a few months. Undaunted, we decided to start a brand-new concern. I recruited former Golden Error bassist, Jordan, and we found our drummer, Sam, bucket-drumming on St. Marks with a No Use For a Name (or was it Man is The Bastard?) t-shirt on. We took pity on him and told him we were going to make him a rock star.

Yet you’ve had one drummer switcheroo so far. How has it changed the sound of the band?

Unsurprisingly, all of that went to Sam’s head, and he decided to move on to greener pastures, as did Jordan. So we actually had a complete rhythm section change last winter. We brought Joey and Chris into our little cult. Sam was a heavy-hitting metal drummer, prone to odd time signatures and explosions of crazy beats. Chris is more of a straightforward punk drummer, but he’s played in free jazz groups, so he’s got swing. Joe is solid as a rock on the bass geetar.

In June, you recorded in an interesting place. Can you detail that studio’s history and the recording session? How did it go, are you happy with the results, what/when will they be out?

We recorded a full-length with the estimable Jeremy Scott. His Civil Defense studio, located in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, was still being constructed, so we recorded down the street at a space shared by a few producer/engineers, most notably Martin Bisi. His “Before Christ” studio is where Sonic Youth recorded Bad Moon Rising and EVOL. It’s basically a huge cavernous room. I think the sessions went pretty well. Ten songs will appear on an LP this fall. The album is called Twilight Language, and it’s slated to be on Dead Beat Records.

How do you know White Murder, and what are they like? Your drummer, Chris Kulscar, is from Cleveland, where you spent some time. What’s “so Cleveland” about him? And tell everyone how great his former band was. Speaking of which, please detail the former bands of your other bandmates.

A brief history of the Family Curse/White Murder connection: Chris and Mike (White Murder bassist) used to be in This Moment in Black History. Chris still is (he sings). Mike and I used to be in a band called Tokyo Storm Warning. Hannah (White Murder singer) and I were in a band called Sophie Mol (I drummed). This all happened in Cleveland, Ohio. A few years later, out in L.A., Hannah and Mike came together in a failed murder plot. As penance, she also plays violin in the Spector-noir ensemble Jail Weddings (ed: great band, dig them!). Meanwhile, Ken and Joe were rocking away in Blood City and Mt. Olympus, respectively. We formed like Voltron in NYC, and the rest is a mystery.

You’re originally from… where? But you lived in Cleveland for a while. How do you think Cleveland mutated your musical taste; and how has living in NYC affected it, if at all?

I’m from around. Ah, Cleveland. Home of Murder Alley, The Torso Murderer, and The Pagans. How will living in a post-industrial anti-paradise affect your music? Look at the Electric Eels (poor bastards).

If you want to hear what Cleveland feels like, listen to the Easter Monkeys (ed: Indeed!). If you wanna know why falling in love in a toxic wasteland can be the most beautiful thing ever, then listen to “Heaven” by Pere Ubu. Regarding myself, how could seeing Lightning Bolt on heroic doses of mushrooms at my favorite place to see a show in the whole wide world (still), Speak in Tongues [in Cleveland], not irrevocably alter my brain? Answer: It can’t.

And that’s not even getting into the re-animated, possibly eternal, phenomenon that is The Black Eye. (ed: That’s a bashed-in punk house in a rough part of town, as they say.). Cleveland has some of the best weirdos and most devoted music freaks I’ve ever met or will meet. Somebody bless ’em.
New York? Looking around, for the most part, I see a bunch of people who probably shouldn’t be involved in underground music. They should just skip ahead to the part where they’re “over it.”

Do I sound like a dick? Good. Cry into your hoodie or produce something that will knock socks on asses.

You have a staunch claim that 1979 is the best year for music, ever. Either explain, or just list your 10 favorite records from that year.

Sometimes I think it was 1978, and 1967 and 1981 were pretty choice too. But 1979 was the year that the dominant rock ‘n’ roll paradigm exploded. The two most radical and exciting musical “movements” (for lack of a better word) of the ’70s; that would be Krautrock and punk, collided to create what was truly a new kind of rock music. Someone called it post-punk. We’re still dealing with the fall-out.

If your honor needs evidence, exhibits A thru Z include such hep platters as Swell Maps A Trip to Marineville, Public Image Limited Metal Box, Gang of Four Entertainment!, The Pop Group Y, Joy Division Unknown Pleasures, Wire 154, and other crap like debut full-lengths by The Fall, The Slits, The Raincoats, The Mekons, and This Heat. And that’s just one tiny little island! (See also: the Messthetics CD comps.) Take a look in our own backyard and you’ll find underrated early hardcore punk samplers like Beach Blvd. and Tooth & Nail. The Contortions Buy. Germs (G.I.). First Wipers LP. Chrome Half Machine Lip Moves. Sods (from Denmark, note to Iceage fans) Minutes to Go. Singles by Count Vertigo, Really Red, Mud Hutters, SPK, Cabaret Voltaire, Scars, Dish Rags, Black Randy… just tell me to shut up already. Every year is great for music if you keep your ear to the ground.

On Friday at 285 Kent, you’re playing with the duo Fergus & Geronimo, who are reportedly performing as a 10-piece band. Given your stage acrobatics, what would be the maximum amount of people you would be able to play with on stage?

We considered going full-bore with a Gogol Bordello-esque stage show, but then figured we couldn’t afford the dancers’ stipend, much less the fire-breather’s.

What are just some of the curses on the families of the members of your band?

Check the blood. It’s all in the blood.

Family Curse plays tonight at 285 Kent with Arto Lindsay, Fergus & Geronimo, the People’s Temple, and Mannequin Pussy. Habibi DJs.

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