Cure for the Common is Bozeman’s favorite local band. That is no exaggeration — it is simply a fact. The electro thunder funk (as they like to be known) group played more than 100 shows last year, and their dedication paid off with wins for both best local album and best local rock band of 2015 in Bozeman Magazine’s readers poll.
Like most local acts, Cure for the Common has gone through more than a few lineup changes since formation in 2008 … or 2009 … or was it 2010? Half the current members only know the origin story through folklore at this point, and the others can’t settle on a date. Some considered the group “formed” when the members first performed live together, others when they first met and others when the crew first began recording for their first album together.
The group consists of either five or six people, depending on whether or not you count Frank Douglas, the man behind the band’s impressive light show. While he doesn’t usually contribute musically, Douglas has been known to take a break from working the lights to sing the occasional novelty song — The Doors’ “Ghost Song” for a Halloween show or Flight of the Conchords’ “Business Time” for a New Year’s Eve celebration. The musical members of the group include two guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist and a drummer drawn to Bozeman’s music scene from around the state. Several graduated from MSU.
After finishing their day jobs, the group gathers for rehearsals at least three times a week, where Douglas helps with feedback. The group also records many of their live shows, allowing them to critique their performances and see where they need to focus. Unlike many small acts, Cure for the Common is not content with taking it one show at a time — they have ambition.
“You can see, every year, we’re closer to full time,” said Garrett Rhinard, the keyboardist. “We’re phasing out the day jobs.”
Joe Sheehan, the drummer, elaborated on their 10 year plan: “We’re trying to play The Gorge by 2024. I think that would mean we had made it.”
In the meantime, the group is trying to get work in commercials or get their music played in airports, “anything to get it heard,” Douglas said. “We’re focusing on the live show, not trying to mail out cds to big labels and get signed.” While the group resists the label “jam band,” which has sometimes been attached to them, they draw inspiration for at least their business model from acts like The Grateful Dead and Phish.
Everyone in Cure for the Common cares deeply about not only their own music, but using their gift to help others. Rhinard said he’d eventually like to form a label to help further promote the Bozeman music scene, and the group regularly plays benefit concerts. They are in the process of setting up a non-profit to give a percentage of their proceeds to “help perpetuate culture and the arts in Montana. We’re growing to the point of being able to do some real good,” Sheehan said. Jordan Rodenbiker, the bassist, added that “one of our goals is to put Montana on the map.”
Living in Montana places a strain on the group. Last summer they spent a month touring festivals in the Southeast and were repeatedly asked questions like “What state is Montana in again?” or “Montana — that’s in southern Canada, right?”
“It’s hard to get to bigger markets,” Sheehan said, “but part of the reason we’re even a band, we even met each other, is because we love living here.” The group has discussed moving to Denver or another bigger city to gain a larger audience, but so far the appeal of the Bozeman vibe has kept them local.
That isn’t to say they can never leave town. The band plans to go back to the Southeast festival circuit again this summer, and at the moment, the group is preparing for a tour across the Northwest with another genre-defying band, North Carolina-based Papadosio.
The tour will kick off in Jackson, Wyoming before coming to Bozeman’s Emerson Theatre later this week, and the band is eager to get back on stage.
“It’s going to be a full Emerson,” they promised. “It’ll be a fun, rowdy show. We are going to deliver 60 minutes of hot fire.”
Cure for the Common will perform on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m.
Tickets to the all-ages show are $20 and available at Cactus Records in downtown Bozeman or online at cftcband.com.
The band’s albums are available at cureforthecommon.bandcamp.com on a pay what you can scale.