Cults is back with ‘Offering’ after almost four years, and the melodic, confident record is just what the doctor ordered. Here’s what it took for them to get there.
Cults has traveled the world to play concerts, but at the end of the day, they just want to hang out in their apartments and eat noodles. Don’t we all? Below, we chat with Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin about their most memorable shows, the making of their new album Offering (Oct. 6) at a Port Authority-area studio, and chilling with Lily Allen.
Madeline: We’re super excited to be back.
What did you do over the hiatus?
Madeline: We’ve been on tour since we were 20, and have never really lived normal lives. We took some time to do that…
What? Did you, like, work in a coffee shop?
Madeline: I wanted to! I was thinking about it. We learned how to be human adults while still also working on the record. We did meet Monday through Friday and treated it as a real job. We took it slow. We worked in a studio [near] Port Authority. [Laughs]
Port Authority? Did you go to Shake Shack at least?
Madeline: Quite a bit.
Brian: We blew our speakers having a Shake Shack birthday party…
Madeline: We had a party for our guitar player. It was really fun.
Brian: In Port Authority, yeah. We were cranking Top 40 hip-hop and broke my thousand-dollar speakers.
What was it like to make Offering?
Brian: Experimentation was part of it. It’s like we made two records, then we made a Cults record. The first stuff we did felt too much like what we’d done before. We tried different things then by the time we got to a song, I think “Gilded Lily,” it was like, “This sounds like our band!” They say in the end, you become yourself. Once we found a way to take the ingredients we’d been messing with and work them into who we are, we were able to write really fast. I think we wrote the whole album in less than six months.
Let’s talk about tour.
Madeline: I’m excited about touring. Taking time off was great, because now I’m super pumped.
Brian: We’re going to make friends, hopefully.
That’s the headline: “Cults Just Wants To Make Friends.” How do you put together a setlist?
Madeline: There’s going to be some serious arguments. There are songs I really want to play and there are songs he wants to play. Before, we had to play everything, learn a cover, fill the time.
Brian: The first time we played Germany, it was before our record came out and we played a basement. After our set, the promoter comes sprinting backstage and he looks at us and goes, “You’re gonna play more, right?” And I said, “No, man, we don’t even have our record! We only know like 7 songs.” He said, “Okay…it’s normal for German bands to play 2-3 hours.” [Laughs]
Madeline: People came to the merch table and were like, “We don’t want to buy anything. You didn’t play that long.”
Brian: “It was a good concert. But much too short. We did not enjoy it.”
Did you get paid for the gig?
What are some other memorable shows you’ve played?
Brian: We played a show in Bali last week!
Last week? That’s a next-level warm-up show for tour.
Brian: We have a policy where if we’re offered a show where we’ve never been, we say yes.
Madeline: We also played Rough Trade in Brooklyn once, and we lost the keys to the car that day.
Brian: That’s true.
Madeline: We had to tear that record store apart.
Brian: I think they were like, in my backpack.
Madeline: We did find them in his backpack.
Do you have a backstage ritual?
Brian: She does these vocal warmups that we’ve all learned to mock over time. [Sings] “Day and niiiight, day and niiiight.”
Madeline: “Arrivederrrrr-ci.” Some made-up words. And we pee 50 times.
Who would you want to go out and tour with?
Brian: The Cure. That would be the dream. We got to tour with Pixies, which was unreal. We would have done that gig for a full year.
You both live here in NYC. What are your favorite things about the city?
Madeline: I love the convenience. You can get home from a gig and get food whenever.
Brian: The people. New York feels democratic to me. You can sit at a bar next to a billionaire and someone who has $30 in their bank account, but everything’s cool. But yeah, it’s mostly the convenience.
Madeline: I eat Han Dynasty a lot.
What was it like to meet with Lily Allen when you were starting out?
Brian: Well, we hung out with her before we signed to her label. That was surreal to be 20 years old, and she just emailed us and was like, “Come to London.”
Madeline: “Hi. This is Lily Allen. Do you want to come to London next Monday?” We were like, this is a joke. We’re getting Catfished right now.
What’s something you’ve been passionate lately outside of your work?
Brian: Collecting keyboards. I spend an insane amount of time searching out deals for keyboards on Craigslist.
Which band would you drop everything to join if you were asked?
Brian: We just had this conversation! Our drummer said Black Sabbath, for her it was The Cure, for me it was Spiritualized, and for our guitar player it was, weirdly, Preoccupations.
Finally, if someone hasn’t heard you before, what songs should they listen to first?
Brian: “Always Forever,” “Took Your Picture” and “Offering.”
I love “Go Outside.”
Madeline: My dad says he wrote that song and should get credit, because he always told me to go outside and play. [Laughs]