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TAS In Session (Lollapalooza and NYC Preview): Cults


Cults' brand of retro-gazing pop isn't necessarily revolutionary, but Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion's nervy confidence and assured, sparkling songs make the band one of the more intriguing newcomers of 2011. The duo play Central Park's Summerstage with Friendly Fires and The Naked and Famous this Sunday, August 7, following their Lollapalooza appearance on Friday.

The former film students from San Diego, who recently caused a little video controversy by inserting themselves in the midst of Jonestown madness in their own "Go Outside" video (there's another MTV-generated one too), are already plotting a second album. Oblivion is determined that the new batch of songs will sound different than their self-titled debut, released earlier this year on pop star Lily Allen's Sony Records imprint, ITNO (In The Name Of).

Just recently Cults' Follin and Oblivion, plus drummer Mark Deriso, bassist Nathan Aguilar and guitarist Gabriel Rodriguez, dropped by The Alternate Side for session and interview with The Alternate Side's Alisa Ali. They not only talked about their love of film and Madeline's childhood agoraphobia, but rolled out great versions of songs like "The Curse" and "Abducted."

You can listen to the full interview with Cults on TAS on 91.5 WNYE this Friday, August 5, at 11 a.m. EDT and via our audio archive.

Alisa Ali: Your album was so highly anticipated because you guys released a great song called “Go Outside” last year. But you made us wait [for an album]. What was the delay on that?

Madeline Follin: We’ve been anticipating it as well. We just wanted to take our time and not rush and record songs that we weren’t totally or completely happy with.

Brian Oblivion: It takes as long as it takes!

Alisa: So you didn’t feel any pressure to put out a full-length?

Madeline: I think in the beginning we did but we sort of put that to the back of our minds and didn’t listen to anything.


Alisa: Now “The Curse” isn’t on the full-length record, is it?

Madeline: It’s not. It is on the iTunes bonus though, so if you download the record from iTunes, you can still have it.

Alisa: One thing I read that keeps coming up, a lot of people say that there’s not a lot about you on the internet.

Brian: Nobody loves us.

Alisa: That puzzles music critics because they want to look up stuff about you and know things about you. But there’s not so much. You didn’t have a MySpace page. Was that intentional?

Brian: We’ve been calling the people from Google every day telling them how important we are. We offered them ridiculous amounts of money. To this point, we’re going with it. It doesn’t matter to us. I think it’s better for us.

Madeline: We don’t want anybody to find us.

Alisa: It is funny when you do Google “cults,” what comes up.

Madeline: Our band. (laughs).

Alisa: About seven down, after Jonestown Massacre and things like that.

Brian: Yeah, it’s confusing because people say, “Oh, you’re so hard to Google.” But think about the band Girls, man!

Alisa: I was talking about that on my show the other day. Live Girls! Ten down. "Girls album" doesn’t work either. You put out the song “Go Outside” last year and were you a bit surrprised about the reaction you got?

Madeline: Oh, yeah, definitely. We were not expecting anyone to listen to it or like it.

Brian: We thought Mark was going to hate it.

Mark Deriso: I do.

Alisa: It’s funny that based on that one song you guys have gotten pretty far. You had a bunch of different record label courting you, including one UK pop star who was starting a label?

Madeline: This is so. And we ended up signing to this UK pop star’s label.

Alisa: Columbia?

Brian: But also it’s the company ITNO [In The Name Of] which is owned by Lily Allen.

Alisa: Do you know her?

Madeline: Yes, we’ve met her a few times. Our drummer is pretty pissed that he hasn’t met her yet.

Alisa: Do you like her music?

Madeline: Yeah! It’s awesome. It’s bad a**.

Alisa: You’re not originally from New York, are you?

Brian: No, but I’ve been here for about five years. Everyone says, “Oh, you’re not a New Yorker.” The threshold is ten years, I think. One of the first shows I played in New York when I was 17 was with Gabe our keyboard player in a pizza place around here.

Madeline: A Fordham pizza pie factory.

Brian: I spent some time in jail with a guy from Fordham. He was cool.

Alisa: Stealing pizza?

Madeline: He was stealing kids’ lunch money.

Alisa: You do get around. I like that you’re hanging in the Bronx. Some people just stay Brooklyn.

Madeline: We definitely don’t just stay Brooklyn.

Mike: I stay in Brooklyn.

Madeline: He’s trying to ruin our image.

Alisa: And the image you’re trying to portray is?

Madeline: That we’re from Manhattan.

Brian: Cary Grant. (laughs)


Alisa: I understand, Brian and Madeline, that you’re also film students.

Madeline: We’re actually dropouts (laughs).

Alisa: Is that because you wanted to focus on music?

Brian: I think we always secretly wanted to focus more on music but we were too afraid to really pursue it. I think film for us was something we could get a job in.

Madeline: I hate school.

Brian: I always say that when we dropped out my teachers were like, “Oh my god, I’m so jealous! Go, get out of here, see the world!”

Madeline: Fly little birdie.

Alisa: How far did you get in film school?

Brian: Junior year. Madeline: We were close. We probably would have been graduating … today. Was actually the graduation.

Alisa: Well, this is much cooler. Did you enjoy film school?

Madeline: No.

Brian: Yes and no. We’re being little brats. I enjoyed it. But after a while art school just wears on you. You spend so much time ripping apart the things you love and you don’t remember what’s good anymore.

Alisa: Did you make any films?

Brian: Well, I was studying sound for film. I kind of had a different thing.

Alisa: So that was a natural progression for you.

Brian: It was second best. But now I get the real deal.

Madeline: I wrote a lot of papers analyzing every movie. Did a lot of analyzing.

Brian: Film theory really. Not making ….

Madeline: No, they don’t offer that at New School. It’s a small school.

Alisa: Considering that the two of you were film students, I thought there would be a lot more videos for you guys.

Madeline: Oh we have one out. And we have another one coming out.

Alisa: I saw the [MTV] video for “Go Outside.”

Madeline: Oh, that’s not our video.

Alisa: Do you know what I’m talking about?

Madeline: Yes, that was awesome but we have an actual “Go Outside” video [that we're in].

Brian: Prominently. I like acting. But not “acting.” Band rock out - none of that.

Madeline: Or in the rain and I’d be crying in a nightgown.

Brian: And no more pretty people in the videos. That’s over.

Alisa: Then you guys can’t be in your videos.

Madeline: Just wait until you see the “Go Outside” video (laughs).

Brian: It’s a tough racket these days, music videos. MTV’s bringing them back though! I’ve had words with the head of MTV.

Madeline: We’ve come to an agreement.

Alisa: When you went to film school, was there a particular genre of film that you liked best?

Brian: Seventies slice-of-life movies like “Scarecrow,” “Being There,” “Panic in Needle Park,” “Five Easy Pieces.” Me and Mark, 70s, slice-of-life, all day.

Madeline: And I was into Tom Hanks (laughs).

Mark: “The DaVinci Code?”

Madeline: All Tom Hanks. I haven’t seen it. I didn’t know Tom Hanks was in it, so I’ll rent that tonight.

Alisa: You’ve seen the documentary about the Jonestown Massacre and you sample a little of Jim Jones on “Go Outside.”

Brian: We wanted to song to have the push and pull of why don’t you do something with your life and the other part of yourself telling you that you’re not good enough, that you’re lazy and can’t do anything. He was the most crazy, controlling, horrible figure you could think about. In the beginning he says, “Don’t fear death, it’s living that’s treacherous.” That’s the opposite attitude that we’re trying to go for. It’s this voice and you hear it and reason with it. Then you listen to the song and hopefully you come to your own conclusion.

Alisa: Have you every wanted to just sleep your days away and only come out as night creatures?

Brian: Definitely that, but Madeline was also agoraphobic when she was a kid.

Madeline: I really was.

Alisa: How did you get over that?

Madeline: I went outside. It wasn’t like I was stuck inside the house; I was just afraid to leave the house. I was eight years old. I thought the world was going to end and I was going to be hit by a car. I still have [that fear]. I’m a psychopath (laughs).