Cults Is Back — Older, Wiser, & Nicer

14_Cults_1Photographed by Dan McMahon. Illustration by Ammiel Mendoza
Since arriving like a veritable breath of fresh air with “Go Outside” back in 2010, Cults have toured the world, released a hit album, and transformed into an indie-pop juggernaut. Founded by New York-via-San Diego transplants Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin, while they were still students at The New School, the band joins ‘60s melodies with fuzzed-out guitars for a sound that’s bubblegum-sweet without losing its bite. Now, the duo is readying its sophomore album, Static, for release after years on the road. Filled with more complex arrangements than the first record, Static is still packed with the hooks the band is known for. We caught up with Oblivion and Follin to chat about the band’s sophomore album, free time on tour, and the first shows that inspired them.
14_Cults_2Photographed by Dan McMahon. Illustration by Ammiel Mendoza.
Take Two
Oblivion: “In a way, we wanted to make a companion piece to the first record. For us, the first record was all about freedom, starting a new life, and separating yourself from people who aren’t good influences. But, after two years of touring and experiencing a more solitary existence, we wanted to write about the other side of the coin, where you learn to appreciate the things in life you take for granted and try to hold onto the positive influences around you — basically not be such a jerk all the time.”
Cranking It Up
Oblivion: “We played the new songs for the first time last weekend, and I asked our sound guy afterward how it sounded. He was like, ‘It sounds great, but everyone gets twice as loud when you’re playing the new songs, and it’s really hard for me to mix.’ It’s a weird kind of nonverbal way of showing our excitement about playing the new stuff: We just crank it up, which is probably not a good idea.”
City Living
Oblivion: “I just moved down to Chinatown, and I have this little ledge where I smoke cigarettes and [watch] those sightseer busses that drive by all day on Bowery. Everyone stares at me like I’m some weird animal.”
Formative Shows
Follin: “Seeing my brother [Richie Follin]’s old band, The Willowz, because I was still so young, really influenced me. When I saw him, I felt like I wanted to be up there, too.”
Oblivion: “I remember seeing Deerhoof at a little punk collective in San Diego called The Ché Café. Those guys are just true legends. I saw them again at [New York venue] Le Poisson Rouge a few months ago, and it was the same experience. They’re disengaged engagement is very attractive.”
On the Road
Oblivion: “Oddly, the memories that I can go back to most vividly from tour are the moments when we have some extra time — not necessarily the shows. Whether that’s going go-karting or playing a really shitty game of golf. Anytime we get to do something that’s outside the norm, we get reinvigorated, but it’s rare that we get to do that. We’re lucky if we can just get a good regional meal.”
Follin: “We call up whoever we know there and have them take us to the best food.”
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