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Interview: BOTW Cults Talk About Their Sudden Success

Band of the Week, Cults are on a non-stop tour to promote their self-titled debut album and we were lucky enough to catch up with them in Shoreditch for some Courvoisier, sun, and when it’s time to admit you were in a cult.

PlanetNotion: You were studying film at the time the band began (Brian at NYU, Madeline at New School) were you taking the music seriously or was it just a side project?

Madeline Follin: It started as just something to do for fun. But by the time people started paying attention…

Brian Oblivion: …We quickly became our main priority.

PN: Was there a moment that you realised the band was becoming something big?

MF: We didn’t send it out to any press or blogs or anything. We just had an email that was connected to our bandcamp. I was in class and I saw a bunch of emails saying, ‘Oh my god I love your music, blah, blah, blah’ and I was like, ‘What? Why are people emailing us?’ And then I realised that Gorilla vs Bear had posted the link to the bandcamp and Pitchfork had posted it as well.

PN: Did the mystery behind the band lead to being called Cults?

BO: It just kind of came out of some mutual fascination with the idea of cults. I used to go to these weird…

MF:… oh I forgot to tell you that I told everyone that you were in a cult. Because you were in a cult, sort of.

BO: Eh, sort of. Not really.

MF: It was a cult.

BO: It was more of a hippie thing, but there was this group of people in San Diego called, The Rainbow Family. And it was all these people who would meet up once a month at the full moon. It would start with kind of a weird prayer, and then everybody would just take a lot of acid and sit by this fire on the beach and talk about shit.

MF: That’s a cult right?

BO: It was more a social club with a slight religious bend. I guess no one who is in a cult thinks they are in one.

PN: How has living on both sides of the States affected your music?

BO: I think sometimes people ascribe too much importance to geographical location because there are scenes. Right now, everyone I know in California is playing roots Americana, and everyone I know in New York is playing rock and indie. But we never really had any other connections to other bands until this band started.

PN: People have been comparing you to 60s girl-pop. Do you think that’s correct?

MF: Definitely. It’s our favourite kind of music at the moment so it probably snuck its way into the music.

PN: Which bands were you listening to when recording?

BO: It’s not really the music so much that influences us as much as the sensibility. It was pretty rebellious for its time. It was the start of youth music, everyone going crazy and parents were being all, ‘I don’t know about this rock n’ roll’. And there’s so much spirit there.

PN: What have you found most difficult about touring?

MF: Well, having to eat crappy food all the time, sleeping in hotels every other night. It’s sort of nerve racking to show up to a venue in a city you’ve never been to before and be like, ‘are people going to be here?’

BO: Especially because I feel like since we’ve had such a quick elevation we’ve assumed a lot of responsibility or expectation. We get play a lot of nice venues and it’s sort of like, ‘I’m in Cleveland…. Nobody’s goin’ to come!’ Mostly we’re wrong, but sometimes we’re right. We’re also insane perfectionists about our show.

MF: So every night after the show we’re like…

BO: …Screaming at each other.

MF: ‘Why’d you do that? That was so stupid! Don’t ever do that again.’

BO: But then after an hour we’re like, ‘Ok, what went wrong let’s fix it next time.’

PN: What venue do you like most?

BO: Mid-sized. Small venues, you have stare at people in the eyes and it’s really uncomfortable.

MF: Bigger venues and big stages always make me nervous because I feel like I should be doing a Ke$ha, running around stage and waving at people. I really like Music Hall in Williamsburg.

PN: You two are performing at Lollapalooza in Chicago, are you excited?

OB: That’s going to be really big. I’ve been before; my parents live in Chicago. All of our friend’s bands are going to be there so it’s just going to be amazing. I hope we get to stick around.

MF: We don’t. But we’re going to be here for Glastonbury for the whole thing I think.

PN: What’s next for Cults?

MF: We’re touring pretty much for… a really long time. And then hopefully we want to get back in and start recording.

PN: Any ideas for the next album?

BO: This time I think we’re going to work with a full orchestra. It’s part of this whole thing of letting go of control. I’ve realised that that’s a much healthier way to be.


-Stevie Pearce

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