Cults eye a Kiwi following

By Kim Gillespie


<inline type="video" id="12406" align="right"/>Jim Jones, Charles Manson, David Koresh - not exactly your usual starting place for a band.

But Cults, who are playing at the St Jerome's Laneway music festival in Auckland on January 30, aren't your everyday band - one listen to their music will tell you that.

The duo, Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin, are on the phone from Offenbach - mid-tour.

They formed the band in 2010 when they were students at New York University after a chance meeting in San Diego.

The pair posted their first recordings on a Bandcamp page. Those tracks ended up on music blog Gorilla vs Bear and their fanbase built from there.

We only have a few minutes so we race through the standard 'why Cults?' question.

Well, says Oblivion, the cults actually came before the name.

"The name followed samples we had [used when] we were working on a project on cults at school."

Cult leaders' powerful words lent themselves to samples and the inspiration for lyrics.

I ask who their favourite (if that's the right word) cult leader is.

Oblivion suggests perhaps Marshall Applewhite, who led the San Diego-based Heaven's Gate Cult. In 1997, police found the bodies of 39 members who had committed suicide in order to catch a ride on a passing UFO.

"That took place a few blocks from my house," Oblivion says.

So that's the name, but what about the music? Their publicity material describes their sound as girl group-inspired bedroom pop with a dark undercurrent.

"I don't know," says Oblivion. "We're definitely very influenced by early-60s, late-50s melodies, but also a lot of West Coast hip-hop - where we grew up."

Sonic Youth are also an influence, but at the moment they're listening to Smith Westerns, Those Darlins ("Screws Get Loose is great"), Girls and St Vincent.

Girls are one of the acts they hope to catch at Laneway, along with Yuck and Washed Out.

Are there any popular, more mainstream acts they admire?

Oblivion likes MGMT and Arcade Fire, while Follin admits to liking Britney Spears, which makes sense considering their bubblegum pop aspect.

They've never heard of Kiwi act The Brunettes, who have a similar sound to Cults, but say they're "really excited" about to coming to New Zealand for the first time.

"I've heard that Auckland is really progressive, cool and beautiful," Oblivion says.

I ask what else they know about New Zealand.

They understand we're all about "good beer and good times ... which is what we're into".

And that translates to the stage too.

I wonder aloud how they recreated their recordings for the live act.

"It was a painstaking process, initially we beat ourselves up about it, but once we got the band together as a five-piece we started to f*** it up - jamming more," says Oblivion

"It felt better to do that live - more of a rock experience."

St Jerome's Laneway Festival: January 30 at Silo Park, Beaumont St, Auckland. Click here for tickets.

- Hamilton News

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