Addict Music Interview – Cults
March 7, 2011 by Chris Cummins
As I write this introduction Phil Mitchell is on the TV stood in front of a rusty car in a pair of overalls with Cults debut single ‘Go Outside’ playing in the background, seriously. It’s this kind of exposure that shows how quickly the band have gone from blog band obscurity to Lily Allen’s first signings for Columbia and one being of the biggest prospects for 2011.
Before they headlined their first UK show at Madame JoJos the duo invited us backstage for a quick beer and a chat about their hectic year. Sat in the corner next to the toilet in their cramped dressing room, which was packed with long hairred college kids working their way through the ample rider, Brian and Madelline seemed unfazed by all the fuss and attention…
So what’s going on with this MTV video that just went up?
Madeline: Well MTV is coming back to the light and they are trying to be more about the music and remove some of their reality TV shows and stuff like that. And they approached us, and asked us…they explained it was young film makers paired with young actors, paired with a song by an up and coming band and they were going to make a short film to our music. So they got the producer of Cigarettes & Cofee (Patrick Hoelck) , Emma Roberts and Dave Franco to act in a film to our music.
Brian: LCD Soundsytem done one a few months ago and there are some really cool bands coming up. Basically, it’s gonna be a really positive thing, because MTV getting back into music videos is an amazing thing and they’ve got some really great bands coming up on the next few videos…
M: It’s not really meant to be a music video it’s a short film.
You’ve done one already though haven’t you?
M: Yeah, that was for Adult Swim. They’re like our favourite TV network and they approached us and asked if we would like to make a video and we were like ‘anything you want.’
B: We have our first real video coming out in the next few weeks and then we’re gonna have another one in a couple of months and we’re really excited about that.
Ok, so you just signed with Lily Allen?
M: Yeah we signed back in January.
B: We met a couple of times and she’s awesome. She has a really enlightened perspective with all the things that are wrong with the record industry. She’s super artist friendly and awesome and she’s like the patron saint of the label, but generally there’s a whole bunch of other people who we talk to every day. I think what she is doing is awesome and the label is gonna end up being pretty awesome, she has a great taste in music and she supports artists in a way which is pretty rare these days.
So what’s the association with Gaurds?
M: It’s my brother’s band.
B: And he plays in our band as well
It’s really confusing for us Brits.
B: Yeah we like to confuse people
M: It’s a cult, it’s the Guards cult.
B: Yeah, get ready for a bunch more bands. Everyone in our band has their own band, so there is gonna be like nine bands and hopefully we’re gonna take over everything. All of us play together on a bunch of different projects and we’re just kind of timing out how many we can get out there
So this is your first UK headline show?
M: Yeah here. It’s our first pretty much show in the UK. I couldn’t even call the last one a show as we were all so exhausted, we all just flew in that morning.
Was that with Yuck last night?
B: Yeah, they are a great band. Last night we got a bunch of bottles of champagne for the show and we didn’t end up drinking them because we were so stressed out as our gear broke and after the show we just went back-stage and popped four bottles of champagne with them – it was a really good night.
So how far along with the album are you?
B: The record is done. We have another song coming out in March on the internet and then we have a 7” coming out in April, some more dates in America and then our album is coming out in May, so we’re gonna roll it all out. We’re super excited to get the new material out as it’s been such a long process and we’ve evolved so much as a band.
M: Yeah, it’s been about a year since we even put anything new out.
So is it in the same vein as the earlier stuff?
B: We wrote all of the songs that are on the record around the same time as we wrote the old songs and well before we singed a deal, which is an advantage for us as we could be like ‘hey, here it is’.
M: Everyone is like ‘oh, they’re on Columbia’ is the record gonna be like…but the thing is everyone had pretty much heard the record already when they singed us, so it wasn’t like ‘you have to do this’.
B: We were like this is who we are, deal with it. Which is a good thing you know.
So how did the first single get picked up?
M: Just the internet. I put it up on my Facebook. At first I was totally embarrassed and just sent it to like one person and was like ‘don’t tell anybody’. And then I was like, I’m gonna put it up on my Facebook and one of my friends sent it over to Gorilla Vs Bear and then it was on Pitchfork… it was weird
Did you record it in your bedroom?
B: Yeah, we recorded it at our house. I remember the day she told me it was on Gorilla Vs Bear. I was in class and she texted me like ‘OMG we’re on Gorilla Vs Bear’, which is a blog that I follow really actively, and I was like ‘Teacher, I need to leave’. I just went straight home and ditched class for the rest of the day.
So have you gone into the studio yet with new material?
M: We do a little bit of everything. We did a lot of it at home and then went into the studio to do vocals and a few other things.
B: like 90% of everything we done on the record was done at home just with a laptop then we’d go into the studio and do guitars and vocals, but we do all the drums, bass, synths and organs at home because it’s just what we’re are used to. I couldn’t figure out any other way to do it.
The engineer we worked with Shane Stoneback, he did Vampire Weekend and Sleigh Bells, and he’s like a total genius. So we took all that stuff to him and then he managed to turn it into something that is so beautiful and take it to another level. We’re musicians but we’re not recording engineers, we have ideas but it’s hard to execute them so he fitted in seamlessly and was perfect at making everything come across really great.
M: The album has been done for a while, we need to stop thinking about it. There’s so much stress every time we listen to it, we’re like ‘oh maybe we should of changed that’.
B: We’ve listened to it so many times, that I’m like never listening to this again. Working on an album is like having a child. You finish it, then you listen to it and you love it. Then two days later you’re like ‘maybe we should turn up the guitar on that part’ and then you turn it up and the vocal disappears. ‘I think I’ll turn up the vocal and the guitar’ and then the drums are gone, so we leave that up to people like Shane who really know what they are doing. It’s so hard to let go. It’s like watching your kids go to College.
Normally I would mix songs in like 4-6 six weeks. I’ll just sit and work on them non stop. But we mixed all of our old songs in less than an hour each I just sat down and worked on them and at a certain point Madeline would say stop. And that’s the spirit we’ve been trying to keep up, that first influence that spontaneous reaction. It sounds great when you first here it in that first rush of creative energy and its like stick to that, because if you analyse it too much you can mess it up.
So how did you get the rest of the band together?
B: It was super natural, once they heard the music all of our friends were like; ‘that’s awesome I wanna play in your band.’ It was a really hard process to figure out how to take this project that Madeline and I had made in our house and turn it into a band. We went through a bunch of different ideas and ended up like playing the backing tracks and stuff, and then was like OK, we need to be a band. So, we got all of our friends and had already booked like six shows and cancelled every single one of them. And then we played a few secret shows.
M: Yeah, we once played under the name Radion Jane Highwater Bong Boys, that was one of Gabe’s creations.
B: We played another show under the name The Cult UK, we didn’t play Sanctuary though. So we got that out of the way and done our first show and it went really well. We were really careful we didn’t come out and it sucked. I think that’s the problem with a lot of internet bands. We’re still working on it because we are like a recording project and not necessarily a band.
You manager is giving us the evil eye, I think we better leave. So finally, you’re influenced a lot by the ’60s…
B: I think with the record you’ll know we don’t want to feel like a throwback band we want…
Kind of like Tamala Mowtown played by a shoe-gaze kid?
B: Yeah, that’s exactly what we want. It’s inevitable that kind of vibe is going to suit the music because it’s the music we love, but we also love Hip Hop, shoe-gaze… we have our hearts in all different kinds of music and I hope it all finds its way in there. There is nothing that would depress me more than being a throw back band.
M: Can all of you just honestly chill on your drinks right now please.
B: They all want to get wasted before the show.
M: Can you put that on the interview? That they’re a bunch of alcoholic assholes.