We Play Rock N’ Roll: An Interview with Madeline Follin of Cults

Olivia Malone

Text: Alex Durán | Photo: Olivia Malone

 

New York City rock band Cults continue to build a cult-like fan base because of their captivating indie-pop melodies and elaborate touring schedule. Their success has gained them the opportunity to create and release music in non-traditional ways. The duo consisting of Brian Oblivion (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Madeline Follin (vocals) broke big via Soundcloud with hit songs such as “Abducted” and “Go Outside.”

Their music connected with an enthusiastic and receptive audience including British singer/songwriter Lily Allen’s record label In the Name Of, who signed the duo and released their first self-titled album Cults in 2011.

In 2013 they worked with guitarist Gabe Rodriguez and record producer/mixer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley, Deerhunter) and released their sophomore album Static (title inspired by actual TV static). Their approach and mindset was different with this album; they wanted Static to sound like a live record. Songs such as “Shine a Light,” “High Road” and “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” consciously give the album a movie soundtrack-type feel to it.

They currently find themselves back in the studio working on new material and getting ready to do what they do best, tour. We caught up with singer Madeline Follin before the band’s live performance at Neon Desert Music Festival in May to talk about what they’re up to these days, as well as vinyl albums and music.

 It’s not your first time in El Paso.

 No, well it’s our second time playing El Paso, and it’s my fourth time here maybe.

Are you guys still in New York?

We’re still in New York, yeah, hopefully forever.

Your music is described as Indie Rock/pop. How do you describe it to someone who’s never heard it before?

When we get stopped to the gas station or a hotel and people are like “what kind of music do you play?” I usually say our standard answer is we play rock and roll.  I feel like most people, normal people at the gas station, don’t really know what indie is so we say rock—sort of girl groupie soul rock.

In terms of theme and sound, is this new record a continuation of your previous album Static?

I think so. I think we have a style and sound that…it’s hard for us to agree on music, you know Cults is the kind of music that we would both enjoy listening to. So yeah, I think it’s in the same vein as both records. From the first record to Static, we felt like it was sort of similar, it was just we knew what we’re doing a little bit more, I would say it’s the same for this record. It’s probably the same but we know what we’re doing.

Can you tell me a little about the song writing process between you and Bryan?

He’ll come up with the loop; he’ll come up with like 20 loops. We’ll sit there and listen to them and sort of combine them together and go over of what we like and what we don’t like and get it to a certain point. Then, once he gets to that certain point were it’s a full song, I’ll sit and do the melodies and lyrics. Then we do the same thing and go over it together.

Any collaborators or featured guests on any new songs?

Not yet but hopefully. We’re not really there yet.

Who would you like to invite? Anybody on your radar?

Yes, Courtney Barnett. I love Courtney Barnett right now she’s one of my favorite artists. I would love to collaborate with her.

When we get stopped to the gas station or a hotel and people are like “what kind of music do you play?” I usually say our standard answer is we play rock and roll.  I feel like most people, normal people at the gas station, don’t really know what indie is so we say rock—sort of girl groupie soul rock.

Speaking of your favorite artists, any recommendations or any good albums?

Definitely, Courtney Barnett, obviously. Let me look my Spotify, see what I’ve been listening to. I love the new M83 record, I’ve really been loving that. I love Pierre Cavalli, it’s like French guitar music…really great!

Do you guys collect vinyl?

Yes, we do. It’s hard though because we live in New York so, you know, there’s not much room. You can’t store anything so you have to be very particular about what you have but, yes.

Any rare finds or recommendations?

I’d say pick up a Pierre Cavalli record. I think it will not disappoint.

Tonight is your first performance in a year, what can we expect?

I don’t know. We’re asking ourselves the same thing but I think it’ll be great, we’re really excited to play and hopefully we’ll be back on the road by the fall.

You have 2 shows after this?

Three now. We’re doing 2 shows in Chicago and a show in L.A. so we’re getting back on the swing of it slowly prepping for the long haul tour.

I think we have a style and sound that…it’s hard for us to agree on music, you know Cults is the kind of music that we would both enjoy listening to

Any surprises tonight?

I feel like tonight is going to be a surprise no matter what because I don’t even think our second record was out when we played at Lowbrow so that’ll be a fun surprise. Different drummer so that’ll also be a fun new surprise.

Tell me about your live band, you guys have had various drummers?

Yes. Whenever we get a show we have about 4 drummers and we send out an email and see who can do it. I think it’s fun it keeps things fresh, you know? Because we’re all really good friends.

Are you currently working on any new music?

We’re in the process. We’re about halfway done before our new record so hopefully would be out or finished by the end of the summer, which is really exciting because I can’t wait to get back out on the road and play shows.

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