Illustration by Gemma Smith
Cults are a New York duo with a 60s guitar pop sound. Their debut album is out in May and I can’t wait. Go Outside has transported my moods from dreary, coffee needing blah, to jigging around on my wooden seat, dancing with the cat, joy. The harmonies are pure dream pop. Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin first posted three songs last spring anonymously on a Bandcamp account and have since received great support from the likes of Gorilla Vs Bear and NME. They’ve also supported Best Coast among others.
Could you introduce yourself please?
MF- He’s Brian Oblivion.
BO- She’s Madelline Follin
Could you describe your music?
On the surface it’s girl group inspired, bedroom pop, upbeat and uplifting but beneath that lies murkier realities. We wrap sinister tales in a sugar coated shell.
Why the name ‘Cults’?
BO- I think that the most startlingly beautiful things in life are pretty but desperately flawed at the same time. Cult leaders are a fascinating example of this so I guess our name came about is a result of this fascination.
Where are you both from? And where do you live now?
MF- We’re both from California, I grew up in San Francisco and Brian grew up in San Diego and we moved to New York together to go to film school.
How have these locations influenced your music?
BO- I suppose growing up in California we were tied trough our local history to some of the world’s most notorious cults. Charlie Mansion and his “Family,” spend a lot of time in LA and were responsible for Sharon Tate’s murder there. Jim Jones set up shop in San Fran, David Byrne’s Children of God were roaming California too. The inspirational, moving speeches that appear, ghost-like, behind our music are taken from speeches made by these guys. New York provided us with independence and the creative space for us to start making music in.
How did you get together…?
BO- By complete chance. Madeline’s brother is in a band that I was tour managing at the time, and she happened to be in San Diego the night they were playing. Then we did this drive from San Diego to San Francisco to pick up Madeline’s stuff. We were playing each other music from our iPod collection, and discovered that we loved all of the same stuff. Cults grew from there.
You are upbeat and 60s in your sound, are you particularly interested in ‘past pop’?
MF – Our sphere of musical influence is pretty diverse, we’re not bound to one particular era or genre. We’re as interested in and as influenced by The Wu Tang Clan and hip-hop as we are rock n’ roll or music from the 60s.
What’s the inspiration for your music?
BO- A lot of our songs are about what we’re going through right now – the fear of growing up and facing adult responsibility. These kind of fears are inspiring. Fear is what makes people join cults in the first place – wanting to escape competition and success and be a part of something bigger, communal. We also want to live our own lives with our own schedules and expectations, so in a way this band has become our own cult.
How do you create ‘your’ sound?
BO- Its spontaneous and real. We’re not sound technicians, we made our first track in our apartment. I layed down some demos and Madeline started singing along. You can suck the life out of a song by making it perfect and we never want to do that.
Do you write your own music?
MF- Our album, like our original demo is self written, self- produced.
What are your musical backgrounds?
BO- I’ve been in bands since I was 13, including a Slayer covers band.
MF- My stepdad owns a studio and I’ve sung on an Adolescents record – there was even a song I did with Dee Dee Ramone singing as well. But for me it wasn’t a big deal, Dee Dee was just one of my stepdad’s friends.
Did you expect Go Outside to be so massive?
MF- Not at all. Most people didn’t know the first thing about us when they heard that track.
Is it true that you actually want to keep an aspect of mystery around yourselves, which is why we don’t know very much about you?!
BO- Absolutley. Bands have become way too handy at promoting themselves. It cheapens the music a bit. It’s like Coca Cola or some brand. There’s nothing left to ponder if it’s all filled in – you can just consume it and throw it away.
But do you foresee yourselves coming to the UK more; perhaps the festivals this summer?
MF- Totally ! We love the UK. You have some world class festivals going on that we would love to get involved with. There is a great vibe here.
Do you enjoy touring? What’s it like for you?
BO- Yeh it rocks. It’s always nice to see witness the way fans receive you music at first hand.
What do you see as the future for Cults?
Unlike many of our historical counterparts ours will have a happy ending!
Best Coast, Brian Oblivion, california, Charles Manson, Columbia Records, Cults, David Byrne’s Children of God, Dee Dee Ramone, festivals, Gemma Smith, Go Outside, Gorilla Vs Bear, Helen Martin, interview, Madeline Follin, music, new york, NME, pop, San Diego, San Francisco, Sharon Tate, single, tour, Wu Tang Clan
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