Manhattan melody-makers Cults to perform at The Blue Note

Brian Oblivion of Cults talks major labels, ceaseless touring and Beyoncé

By Patrick McKenna | Feb. 11, 2014

Tags: Concerts Downtown Columbia Music

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For bands, change can lead to positive stylistic innovation, or a downward spiraling that leaves band chemistry incinerated. Even after a Jack & Meg White-esque relationship breakup between the two members and a change from small indie label In the Name Of to major label Columbia Records, Cults, the New York City-based experimental indie-pop group, has proven change won’t stop its success.

Since the band’s breakthrough track “Go Outside” was named “Best New Track” by Pitchfork Media in 2010, its popularity has skyrocketed, with its Passion-Pit-meets-Phil-Spector doo-wop sound winning over indie rock/pop fans nationwide — including their current touring companions, the Pixies.

Made up of singer Madeline Follin and multi-instrumentalist Brian Oblivion, Cults blends its twinkling electro-pop vibes with Follin’s ghostly, retro sounding vocals into an exotic pop concoction.

In anticipation for the duo’s show tonight at The Blue Note, MOVE talked to Oblivion about the progress their band has made, opening for the Pixies and a certain queen “B.”

[MOVE]: How's the current tour going? [Brian Oblivion]: It’s been incredible. It’ll probably go down as my favorite tour we’ve done thus far. The venues we’ve been playing are fantastic. Everybody on the Pixies crew has been making the environment very laid-back.

[M]: What's been the high point of the current tour? [BP]: Definitely going to the United (Record) Pressing plant in Nashville. They’re one of the major producers of vinyl in the country, and they have an upstairs area that’s housed Motown greats like Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson back when a lot of hotels wouldn’t accept black performers. It’s like a living museum; everything’s been kept the same.

[M]: How do you feel about playing smaller venues in college towns like Columbia? [BP]: It’s just a totally different mindset. There’s something freeing about being in front of so many people; you feel like you’re in your own world surrounded by that many. When you’re playing a small show, you have to engage the smaller audience more and almost have a conversation through the music. The intimacy is always there, and always different.

[M]: Are you guys currently working on any new material? [BP]: Honestly, we never actually stop working on new stuff. We’ll start with random loops we make while on tour, and once it’s time to write, we have a great backdrop to work off of. We’ve been working on a record now and we’ve been finding new ways to incorporate life experiences and emotions into our music. Our first record was our punky, rebellious sloppy one. The latest one has a more grown up, aggressive vibe. Almost more confidant.

[M]: What bands do you admire the most that have gone through the same indie to major label route your band has? [BP]: Sonic Youth is a huge inspiration. Tom Waits, Nine Inch Nails. The Pixies — that’s a band we obviously idolize. What they’ve accomplished in the past, and the fact that they’re still great so many years later … that’s amazing to us.

[M]: What's your favorite record of 2014 so far? [BP]:: I guess no one has really set the bar higher than Beyoncé. That album has her as queen of the year so far, no doubt.

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