Not So Static

23 January 2014 | 11:04 am | Annabel Maclean

"Going to college in New York is definitely not like the normal college experience because you live in an apartment in a big city and you’re going to bars…"

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After Cults released their self-titled debut record in 2011, the indie-pop duo headed off touring for a year-and-a-half straight. Following the long stint of touring and the joint decision to end their personal relationship and focus solely on being together for the purpose of their work, Oblivion and Follin had a well deserved break. The duo then embarked on the recording mission for their recently released second record Static. But, the rehearsal process wasn't without its hiccups, with the duo's practice space flooded due to Hurricane Sandy last year. “We've always been really good at letting things go and seeing the positive in things,” Oblivion says. “Even when the hurricane had happened, we knew that our practice space had flooded and we were depressed for like three hours and then we realised 'we're in the city with no power, like how crazy is this?' and we got in a car and there were no stop lights so we were driving down the road, we'd never have got to do that if that hadn't have happened. So the Hurricane Sandy experience in general was one of the most fun weeks I've had in recent memory.”

The duo worked alongside Shane Stoneback (Sleigh Bells, Vampire Weekend) and Ben Allen (Animal Collective) to produce Static. “I was actually just at Shane's [Stoneback] studio five minutes ago,” Oblivion says. “Shane is like my best friend in the world. I spend way too much time at the studio with him fluffing around with weird gear when we're not working.”

“Working with him was a dream,” Oblivion says. “It was just good to hang out, just a bunch of friends making music. We tried for the first time to have a different person – Ben Allen – mix the record which was a good decision because mixing is such a difficult process and there's so many decisions that have to get made, sometimes it's nice to work with a stranger because they won't be so sensitive about everything and you feel pressure to be professional and to get things done.”

Oblivion and Follin even went up to Atlanta to do the mixing and vocals from Allen's studio and they came back with more than just a studio experience. “Ben Allen's wife was going to have a kid any day while we were recording with him,” Oblivion begins to explain. “She actually had her kid on the last day of mixing so the last song was mixed with the assistant at the studio. Ben wasn't there. We took him to his last strip club experience ever – he said once he had a kid, he couldn't do it anymore. Atlanta strip clubs are insane, people throw thousands of dollars.”

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Static is inspired by the duo's experiences living in New York opposed to their home of California, a stand-out affair for the duo. “It's been so different,” Oblivion says. “When we first moved out here, we moved out to go to college. Going to college in New York is definitely not like the normal college experience because you live in an apartment in a big city and you're going to bars… these days I live alone in Chinatown and Madeline lives in the East Village. I think New York is much more meditative now.”

Static is a more rhythmic and live-sounding record compared to the duo's debut. “Drums is the only instrument that I don't play on the record so I became obsessed with them,” Oblivion says. “If you look at the credits, there's like four different drummers on this record. The last record being made on our laptops and being electronic, it was very to the note - every beat hit exactly when you expected it to. With this one, there's more life happening. There's mess-ups that we left in and I find that so much more endearing.” And, from a lyrical point of view, Follin says her writing was much the same as it was on their debut record. “It was exciting for me to think about how all of the songs would translate live,” she says. “I think the songs that we write for our show, we have to be having as much fun as the audience.”

Although the duo both agree Static won't see them touring for a year-and-a-half straight again, they will be visiting Down Under soon. “I'm not sure what we can say about it but I can tell you that we are coming to Australia in April and it's the thing we're looking forward to most over the next year,” Oblivion confirms. “Australia is our favourite place in the world.”