Interviews
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The Call Up: Dan Whitford (of Cut Copy)

on March 08, 2011, 10:00am

Let’s face it: There are some bands that are relevant, and there are some bands that are not. It’s unsteady footing, often times tough to predict. It may fluctuate depending on timing, talent, and what the world wants to hear, but one thing’s for sure: Staying relevant in the music world is not an easy thing to do. Relevancy can come and go with the changing tide (today’s James Blake could be last year’s Passion Pit). Fortunately for us, we caught Cut Copy, who have remained relatively hot throughout their 10-year career, at their very hottest for a chat. Having just released their third full-length, Zonoscope, to massive critical and commercial success, we got a few words in with the Aussies to see what’s next for Cut Copy.

We at CoS thought the album was a Top Star, and many other reputable critics think the very same. But there has also been a lot of criticism, particularly because this album is “bigger.” The songs are more epic, the tracks are longer, the three-minute catchy synth-pop aesthetic seems to be gone. Once again, we think this is your greatest triumph, but we’ve heard a lot of negative comments about the length of the album. What compelled you to move in this particular direction?

I guess we wanted to create a world for the listener to immerse themselves in, where time becomes irrelevant. In the iTunes generation, people are so used to skipping amongst a whole bunch of different tracks. People’s attention spans aren’t what they used to be, but we’re still attracted to that rather old-fashioned idea of an album that you put on and listen to from start to finish. All our records are like that.

Who were your main influences going into writing/recording Zonoscope? What were you listening to at the time?

Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock, and Paul McCartney’s McCartney 2.

What are your thoughts concerning the criticism surrounding the move to a bigger sound?

I’m not sure I can take “bigger sound” as a criticism. I mean, would it sound better if it was recorded entirely on a four track? I think we were intentionally going for a big sound. The songs seem to dictate or warrant that. I think what we were going for on this record is that it’s meant to be revealed over time, and you’re rewarded on repeat listens. Those are my favorite records to listen to. I think it’s important not to get too caught up in what other people are saying; otherwise, the music will be compromised somewhat. I think you need to show your audience some respect in wanting to grow with you and not repeating yourself on every record. But we certainly went for a different mood on this record. It’s probably less pop-sounding than the previous two…Well, there are still pop music elements, but they’re more of a skewed take on pop music. Maybe more subversive in a way.

With a release of this magnitude, massive touring usually ensues. You guys have 45 dates scheduled, including festival appearances. Is the new material road-ready?

I hope so! Too late now if it’s not! No, I think it’s ready. We’ve already played a whole bunch of Australian dates over the past two weeks, and they have seemed to go down really well.

How will it differ from past shows?

It’s a very different Cut Copy show, visually. We wanted the show to maybe reflect the album more. We’ve taken a lot of cues from theater, as opposed to standard rock shows or club-orientated raves. We spent a lot of time coming up with a concept for the record. We had props built for the stage, and we integrated video content. I guess we wanted to challenge ourselves a bit more and to give people who have been coming to Cut Copy shows over the years something new. We’re pretty excited about it.

Any plans at this time for an extension of your upcoming tour?

Yes. We’ll be touring for the next 12 months, but we plan on capping it there. We want to get back into the studio to make another record sooner rather than later. We’d love to release records at a quicker pace.

Recently, we received information about your “Tale of Two Journeys” mixtape. The release was a little unclear as to what exactly will be on this mixtape. Could you elaborate for us?

I guess we do a mixtape after each release, and basically they are more of an insight into what we were listening to when making our record. They are fun to make, and fans seem to really appreciate it. I think we have to keep the tracklisting a mystery for now, because there is a competition on at the moment to guess what’s on there. I’m sure all will be revealed soon!

Finally, you’re playing at two of the United States’ biggest festivals, Ultra and Coachella. At Ultra, which is notoriously electronic/dance heavy, you’ll be playing alongside everyone from Moby to Underworld. Who are you most excited to meet and/or see perform? Same for Coachella, you’ll be playing day one alongside an assortment of artists from Lauryn Hill to Interpol. Anybody you’re particularly excited to see?

Ultra: Holy Ghost. Coachella: Animal Collective.

Be sure to pick up Cut Copy’s latest, Zonoscope, and check them out on tour!