Cults co-leader Brian Oblivion described his main aspiration of being in a rock 'n' roll band as having some form of impact on a cultural change. The group's self-titled debut certainly did so as its lo-fi-pop party tunes had a mentally cleansing effect on many of their fans. While many utilized the songs as 2011's summer themes, Oblivion described fans who took them far more personally and literally as one agoraphobic fan who used "Go Outside" as his inspiration for leaving his home for the first time in over 20 years.
As most sophomore records do, Cults' latest full-length, Static (released earlier this month), embodies a newly discovered spirit. Oblivion describes the transition as having an emphasis on distortion rather than reverb, but what we notice is a refined and far more concentrated attempt at defining their brand of noise. Oblivion's co-star Madeline Follin's vocals are taken from cutesy to confident, and the rock charm of the group is kicked up with Cheap Trick worthy riffs. Embedded throughout the album is also a transition into an ominous tone; one that's far from their original love-sick record, but this can certainly be attributed to the duo's romantic split in 2012. However, the relationship's tension, if it even exists, isn't palpable, but the love this time around is clouded with a sense of uncertainty. Something to which we can all connect.
Two weeks prior to the release of Static we took Cults across the East River to the outrageously eccentric dream world of Acme Studios prop house to get an early taste of the album. Surrounded by a wild collection of antique furniture and taxidermy, Brian, Madeline and crew performed "I Can Hardly Make You Mine", "High Road", "Always Forever", and gave us an extra special throwback burn through "Go Outside".
I was reading a book recently about, it was called Supernatural Strategies of Forming a Rock and Roll Group. In the book he says something about reasons for being in a rock and roll band, and he said reason number one, you want to make money, and he's like, no. Bad reason. There's a million other things you could do to make way more money, way easier. To be more successful in you amorous relationships, and he said the same thing. No, like you think you're going to get more girls, like go into advertising. Do something different or a movies, something that's not so demanding and weird. Then the third choice was you want to impact some kind of cultural change, and he was saying, well there you go. That's the way to do it. Like, Rock and Roll can get into people's homes, and songs can make an impact on people's lives in a huge way whilst being seemingly innocuous. No really knows who's house you're haunting Places that you go are a mystery to me Every time you leave here, I'm keeping quiet I guess that's all you want from me Cause if it's all spinning round at the ball And if your world's feeling crowded and small Maybe you could be the big star in tonight's show But I should've took the high road Now it's such a long way back Instead I took the low road Figured out it's something You can't take back Should've took the high road Now my days have all turned black Instead I took the low road Figured out it's something That we both lack No really knows just what you're wanting. Running round the bend Those things aren't for free Thinking back at home We're waiting on you We've got our own Places to be Cause if it's all spinning round at the ball And if your world's feeling crowded and small Maybe you could be the big star in tonight's show And if it's too late to pick up the call, and if you're torn up And sick of it all Maybe you can only See far in the nights glow But I should've took the high road Now it's such a long way back Instead I took the low road Figured out it's something You can't take back Should've took the high road Now my days have all turned black Instead I took the low road Figured out it's something That we both lack The name of our new record is Static. It's something like, you know, even with the last record we've always been an artwork first kind of band. Like, we'll kind of, we'll sit around and we'll come up with the idea of what the record's going to be before we make it, and I think that that's like a constructive thing for us because for one, like, you know, music wasn't always the first thing that we did. We're kind of visual people. Plus, you know, most of the time it's just the two of us in the studio working on everything, and we don't really jam with a full band so we have to have like an idea of what we're going to do otherwise, we just end up running around in circles. For this record, we knew that we wanted to have more of an emphasis on distortion rather than reverb like the last record, and we knew it was going to be called Static and we had a bunch of TVs set up all over the studio just kind of like blasting, not necessarily the sound of the static, but just like, you know, ornamentation. And we like always kind of stare at them for a weird inspiration. I can hardly make you mine Tell it to you all the time At the end of a long day and when I wake If you could just give me a sign We can leave it all behind So take me away before we break I don't think I can make it Can I owe you one Staring into the days Like a loaded gun Well I can hardly make you mine Tell it to you all the time But you never wanted what you had to take So I could never give you up I guess that this is just a crush For the end of a long day And when I wake Well I know you're not the one and the only But we both know what it's like to be lonely Well these fantasies they left us wanting But just bring all your love back to me I guess for now it's just how it will be I don't think I can make it Can I owe you one Staring into the days Like a loaded gun I don't think I can make it Can I owe you one Staring into the days Like a loaded gun A song like go outside, we get emails from people saying that they, like one dude emailed us saying that he works in a dark lab with bacteria all day. He doesn't see sunlight all day long, and that he'd listen to our music and it would make him feel better about his like, very important and smart job, and that's like, that's amazing, and then one dude, one dude was agoraphobic and hadn't left his house in 20 years and listened to that song and was like, this is the time to do it. So you never know, you know. To think if you're just emotionally, like honest as a band and smart about what you do, you just hope that people are going to take the songs and turn them into whatever they need to be for them, you know. Like, it's cooler to not have an agenda. I mean, you want to have an agenda, but you almost don't want to talk about it. You just want people to make up their own history or their own feeling of what it is, but hopefully, they take something like that from what we're doing over here. I, I really want to go out I really want to go outside and stop to see your day You, you really want to hole up You really want to stay inside and sleep the light away I, I really want to go out I really want to go outside and bathe in light all day You, you really want to hole up You really want to stay inside and not care where you lay Well, I know what's good Exactly cause I have been there before Yeah, I know what's good Exactly those things night cannot behold I, I really want to go out I really want to go outside and stop to see your day You, you really want to hole up You really want to stay inside and sleep the light away I, I think it's good to go out Cause if you don't you'll never make a memory that will stay I, I think that we should break up I think I want to live my life and you're just in my way I was more nervous about recording the first record after the EP than I was about this record. Just because we had only come out with a few songs and then we had been touring on, maybe we had been playing a 6 or 7 song set for a year straight. And it was just, that was like the real make or break moment, you know. Like it was, we had gotten this good will from people from off this thing that we offhandedly did in our apartment over a weekend, and then we had to make like a real record, which is like a big scary word, and we did it and this time around it felt like, well we've done that before. We know how to do that. You and me always forever We could stay alone together You and me always forever Say you'll stay, never be separate You know you've got me in your pocket You don't just have to wait around You know I'll keep you in my locket Just come here and we can settle down You and me always forever We can stay alone together Heard you say things could be better Don't leave don't get away right now You know you've got me in your pocket You don't just have to wait around You know I'll keep you in my locket Just come here and we can settle down Oh darling it's so lonely to think of us apart You know you've got me in your pocket You don't just have to wait around You know I keep you in my locket Just come here and we can settle down You and me always forever We can stay alone together You and me always forever We can stay alone together You and me always forever We can stay alone together You and me always forever We can stay alone together Cold sort of feeling it all turned to gray The air is much colder and there's not much left to say
Cults' twinkling experimental pop arrived in a shroud of mystery early in 2010, when the group posted three songs on its Bandcamp page. One of those songs was "Go Outside," which mixed dream pop haze with girl group harmonies (and, fittingly, samples of Jonestown leader Jim Jones) and earned the band acclaim from publications including Pitchfork and NME. Eventually, Cults' core duo was revealed as guitarist Brian Oblivion and vocalist Madeline Follin, who were also a couple. Later in 2010, Cults released Go Outside as a single on Forest Family Records and performed shows with bands including Best Coast. Early in 2011, the group made its U.K. debut and signed to Columbia Records; Cults' self-titled album, which featured production by Shane Stoneback, arrived in the middle of that year.
Their sunny pop tunes were well received by critics and fans alike and they went on to tour heavily across America and Europe. The duo ended their relationship in the wake of their debut, yet continued to progress with the band. Together they wrote material during 2012 for their second album, which focused on their split and the pressures of growing up. The result was their sophomore record, Static, which arrived in October 2013.