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Curley Back in a Band

Whigs bassist finds time to
compile Staggering Statistics

By Chris Varias
The Enquirer

When John Curley fired Greg Dulli from the Afghan Whigs he couldn’t make it stick.

“We fired each other a couple of times, but all the fiery band breakups never lasted more than a couple weeks,” Curley recalls when asked about the dissolution of perhaps the biggest rock band ever to come out of Cincinnati. “The adult conversation was the one that lasted.”

That conversation began in the spring of 2000, when the Whigs regrouped to begin working on a follow-up to what would prove to be the band’s final record, 1965, released in 1998. Curley had a wife and infant daughter at home, and the idea of entering into another cycle of recording and nonstop touring had little appeal to the bassist.

“The band was a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week commitment. It was time to do other stuff, which in my case meant being a dad,” Curley says.

Since the end of the Whigs, Curley’s twin pursuits have been family life and Ultrasuede, his Camp Washington studio where he has recorded critically lauded albums by the Greenhornes, Shesus and several other local bands. However, Curley’s desire to play music never subsided; he just wasn’t interested in the grind of living on the road.

“I talked to (Ass Ponys drummer) Dave Morrison a couple of years ago about playing, nothing more than getting together with friends, drinking a few beers, and having fun, and we started playing with Austin Brown. Dave’s pretty busy, he has a kid, so me and Austin kept doing it,” Curley says.

Curley and Brown – a guitarist and prolific songwriter who seems to have been playing in about a half-dozen bands at any given time over the last five years – picked Dave Cahill as Morrison’s replacement and named the trio Staggering Statistics. The jam sessions yielded songs, which in turn led to local club dates.

“It spirals away from you,” Curley says. “Even if your goal is informal, sooner or later you begin writing songs that you want to play for other people. Then there’s a little thought in your mind: we could get signed (to a record deal). You stand in the room with ether long enough and you start getting overcome by the fumes.”

Brown says everyone entered into the band without grand aspirations for what it could be, which has helped the music. “I’ve always tried to over-think the things I’ve written in the past. Everything here is about having fun as opposed to reinventing the wheel,” he says.

Staggering Statistics, whose current lineup features Joe Klug on drums, recently recorded its debut CD at Ultrasuede. Brown says he expects to have burned copies, if not the finished product, ready for Friday’s double bill with the Fairmount Girls at Northside Tavern (10:30 p.m.; 4163 Hamilton Ave.; 513-542-3603; 21 and up; no cover).

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