In contrast to the many goth rock bands of the ‘90s and 2000s that have been heavily influenced by electronica, the New York-based Curse has favored a more organic, less programmed, and very guitar-based approach. Curse sounds like an honest-to-God band (as opposed to simply a group), and their recordings sound played rather than programmed. Plus, Curse tends to be rootsier and earthier than the more high-tech goth outfits. Curse has the sort of haunting melodies and darkly romantic lyrics one expects from goth, but the New Yorkers also show their appreciation of blues-rock, folk-rock, and jazz. Curse's roots are not only Bauhaus and the Sisters of Mercy -- two of goth's most important bands -- their roots are also in the Doors, Alice Cooper, the Velvet Underground, and Siouxsie & the Banshees. And on their more folk-minded offerings, Curse almost becomes an unlikely combination of goth and the Indigo Girls. Curse should not be confused with a punk band known as the Curse, whose Teenage Meat CD was released by Other People's Music in 1997--the goth rockers simply go by Curse, not the Curse. Nor should Curse be confused with the artists who recorded The Downright EP for the Bipolar label in 2000.
Two of Curse's members -- lead singer Mikaela Pearson and drummer Robert Lacyk -- are former members of Caledonia, a New York-based goth outfit that was never well-known but had a small cult following in and around the Big Apple in the late ‘90s. The promising but underexposed Caledonia recorded one album, Spires, in 1998 and broke up the following year -- then, in 2000, Curse was formed when Pearson and Lacyk joined forces with bassist Theodora Michaels and her husband, guitarist Kevin Michaels. Theodora Michaels (Thea for short) had been with Ultraviolet and Shrieking Violets (two N.Y.C. bands of the ‘90s), while Kevin Michaels had led his own Kevin Michaels Band. Pearson, meanwhile, had a résumé that included not only Caledonia, but also, a few other New York bands (including Invisible Cities and Spiderlily). In 2001, Curse caught the attention of producer/engineer Wharton Tiers, who has worked with Helmet, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Biohazard, Nick Cave, the Swans, Shudder to Think, Ciccone Youth, and quite a few others. Tiers went on to produce Curse's self-titled debut album, which they released on and their own label, Cursory Rhymes, in late 2002. Around that time, Curse also put out a single that contained the Doors-influenced "Graveyard Shuffle" and a remake of David Amram's theme from the 1959 film Pull My Daisy; in addition to playing acoustic piano and French horn on Curse's remake, a 71-year-old Amram wrote the single's liner notes.