Who: Cults with Guards and Writer
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer St., Denver
The Cults never set out to be an indie pop band.
Band founders Brian Oblivion and Madeline Folin were serious NYC film students, but one blog posting changed their lives and put their very danceable music on the map.
Now Cults is a red-hot act on the indie pop scene. The duo’s knack for fusing ’60s girl-band sounds with modern beats is catching on.
Monday, the Cults rock Denver’s Larimer Lounge.
The Cults have a heavy-duty tour schedule, and Oblivion and Folin are still taking in their newfound fame.
“It’s been insane,” Oblivion said. “We just came back from a photo shoot with Mick Rock. He took all these famous photos of David Bowie and Queen.”
The Cults have come a long way in a year-and-a-half.
“We were both film students,” Oblivion confirmed,” I went to NYU and Madeline went to the New School. I had never planned on making movies — I was studying sound for film, special effects and scoring.
“Madeline was leading up to producing movies. I thought for the next 40 years I’d be sitting in a dark room writing music for films.”
However, Oblivion and Folin needed a break from their intense studies, so the duo decided to write a few songs “for fun.”
“We were working on 20 page essays and listening to boring lectures, so we wanted to do something that was our own thing,” Oblivion said. “We wrote our first three songs — and we’re still trying to trace where it all started.
“We posted the songs on Bandcamp, but we didn’t have pictures or bios. Before we knew it, they was posted on the blog Gorilla Vs. Bear and things got crazy.”
All of a sudden Oblivion and Folin went from musically minded film students to internet pop stars.
“This is pretty surreal,” Oblivion said. “We started to write more songs to pursue this and dropped out of film school. Our teachers said, ‘Go do it.'”
Fans were also clamoring for more of the Cults’ sound.
The group’s flair for fusing vintage ’60s sounds with modern rock beats was striking a chord with listeners.
“We both grew up being really passionate about ’60s throwback girl bands,” Oblivion said. “We both listened to a lot of The Shirelles and Lesley Gore. That definitely had an influence on our music.
“But we also listen to modern bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. I’m also a fan of ’90s music, and it’s guitar noise bands and hip hop, so it all comes together in this big melting pot. There’s a sense of immediacy and fullness to our music, along with aggressive drum beats.”
The dance rhythms and retro-fused melodies are creating an infectious buzz for the band. The internet chatter also landed the Cults a record deal with an international artist.
“We’re on Lily Allen’s label. It’s pretty bizarre,” Oblivion said. “Early on, we got an email from a guy at her label. He said he wanted to fly us to London and I thought it was a joke.
“I’d never been out of the country so I went there and it ended up being super awesome. They gave us creative control — we produced the record and we select the videos. Everything’s going great.”
All of a sudden, the Cults’ lives changed. The duo was asked to play prestigious gigs, such as Coachella and tour with top-name bands.
“Everything’s been moving at a break-neck pace, but we’ve never been rushed,” Oblivion said. “We started out playing in small coffee shops. We even turned down some larger stuff, because it was early on and we weren’t ready.”
Everything was leading up to the release of the Cults self-titled record. The debut album dropped in June and the buzz just keeps growing.
“I think this is more of a dance record — people are so programmed to what’s on the Top 40,” Oblivion said. “This record is about what you want to do. The songs are about angst and rebelliousness.
“It’s about independence and finding ways to be happy, even in a bad situation. I hope the songs are inspiring. We changed our lives, so people should know they can do whatever they want.”
The Cults wanted the songs to come on full force, so the act expanded its line-up for the live concerts. Denver will see a powerhouse five-piece band cranking out the Cults’ new tunes.
“We do a pretty good job of capturing all the sounds of the record,” Oblivion said. “For the live shows, we change them up to make them danceable and harder-hitting.”
The Cults already have serious tour plans and they’re thinking of ways to fuse their film expertise into the band.