Cut Copy In Ghost Colours

Cut Copy In Ghost Colours
When they appeared in 2004 with their first LP, Bright Like Neon Love, Melbourne, Australia’s Cut Copy were a go-to party act that emitted a sound nestled between New Order and Daft Punk. Flash-forward four years and the trio have built on their simple, club-focused pop and fashioned an album that’s painstakingly relevant and tireless. With DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy in the booth, Cut Copy have sharpened the electronic ingredients with their producer’s expertise, throwing in traces of Italo house, French touch and disco amongst their prominent New Romantic pop and shoegazing tastes. What’s extra special about In Ghost Colours is its consistency. As much as they like to party, these three men consider the come down and romance, spreading different moods throughout the album, with each song packing as many hooks as the next. The anthemic trio of first-rate singles — the muscular pulsations of "Lights & Music,” the My Bloody Valentine-infused "So Haunted” and the fired-up "Hearts On Fire,” which employs a cheeky Peter Hook bass line and chopped up, Black Box-style vocal samples for full effect — are interspersed, giving the album increased impact. As danceable as it is, what Cut Copy have created is the utmost flattering homage to their influences and as perfect a pop record, or "psychedelic disco mix-tape,” as anyone could ever ask from them.

Congrats on the album making it to number one in Australia. Were you surprised at all?
Yeah, totally. We’re still in shock and it’s been a week now. It’s kinda funny because we’ve never really thought of ourselves as a chart type band here in Australia. When we started out there wasn’t really a scene for our kind of music, so we struggled to get onto the radio and onto festival bills. It felt like until we went overseas and then came back to Australia our audience started to expand. I guess more than anything it says what’s happening in Australia at the moment — this indie crossover dance music, or whatever they’re calling it, is beginning to catch on. I mean, the new Presets album is coming out this week and it should probably do the same thing. Yeah, there are some very exciting times here in Australia for sure, and I think at the moment the rest of the world is looking over here for some good dance music.

I’d say that has a lot to do with your label, Modular.
Yeah, I mean they signed the Avalanches in the late ’90s, and they were probably the only label willing to take a gamble on them. And that definitely paid off! They're just a very forward-thinking label.

The funny thing is that whenever I mention you guys are Australian, everyone seems surprised. Do you get that a lot?
Yeah, totally. But even just with our accents. People always ask, "You’re from London, right?” And when we tell them we’re Australian they just refuse to believe us. [laughs] I guess because Australia’s had such a rich history in rock music, and maybe our kind of music takes cues from American indie music and French house, more European sounding that we’re not some punk rock band from Australia.

That’s an interesting point, because even within this magazine, you’re kind of a puzzle. We feature you in the "Frequencies” section, which is electronic-based music, but you’re just as much a pop band as you are anything else. How would you define Cut Copy?
It’s certainly become a band. When Cut Copy started out it was just Dan doing a studio production, dance music thing back in 2000, and then put the band together to write [Bright Like Neon Love]. We had toured the last record for three years and became really comfortable with our instruments. Certainly when we were writing this album, Tim Goldsworthy really wanted to capture us as a band, which is what we wanted to push. We actually weren’t listening to that much dance music. We were listening more to shoegazer, Krautrock and ’70s California pop music. Tim was obviously into the disco stuff and introduced us to a lot of it, but yeah, I think Cut Copy is a band, first and foremost, as opposed to a bunch of studio producers.

So Tim Goldsworthy was responsible for bringing the dance element into the studio?
Well, we knew that he had a whole grip on the disco thing from his background, but what surprised us was how more excited he was to work on the guitar tracks and adding texture to those songs because he was such a huge My Bloody Valentine/shoegazing fan, which we didn’t know going across. That kind of came as a surprise to us, but it was that type of experimentation he pushed on us… It wasn’t like we just arrived at the studio and he had this concrete idea of what we’d do. It was more like, "Okay, we just got this new piece of gear, let’s plug it in and see what we can get out of it,” which is something we found really interesting because we’ve never worked like that before.

In Ghost Colours was a long time coming. What led to such a delay between albums?
A lot of it came down to touring and there’s such a delay in release with Bright Like Neon Love, because it came out here in 2004 and then in North America a year later, the UK a year and a half later. And then it just came down to touring; all of these tours came up that we just couldn’t turn down. The record was still finding a new audience every day, and even still, we could have done another American tour and kinda kept going. I still feel that people are still discovering our first record. It’s not like it dropped and became big or anything; it was really a hard flog for us over a while. We literally did about three years of touring that record. We started writing [In Ghost Colours] in about mid-2006, and the writing came really quickly, and then we just worked by other people’s timetables; we had to wait for the DFA studio to be free for us to go over there and record, and then we had to wait for it to be free to mix the record. And then when you have to deal with international labels synching release dates, it got pushed back another three months. It was all a lot of boring stuff, that I don’t think we were prepared for. We were kind of sitting around waiting to get stuff done and get the record out. But, I guess that’s just the nature of the game.

The album sounds like there is a lot more diversity flowing through the band now. I remembered first writing about "So Haunted" thinking the first part was more in line with droning pop bands like My Bloody Valentine than anything else you've done previously. Were you looking to diversify?
Yeah, we certainly wanted to evolve and push our songwriting a little more on this record, with the arrangements and just enhance the sound of Cut Copy and, like I said before, make it sound more like a band. Just push ourselves with songwriting. And we all come from that background of listening to My Bloody Valentine, and those early ’90s noisy guitar bands, so that’s always been a big part of Cut Copy, especially in our live show, which was always sort of an interpretation, like a garage band. I guess it was all about putting the songs first and seeing if we could take them into an interesting direction.

You guys have also become go to DJs. You put out a Fabriclive mix as well as the free So Cosmic mix. What’s your objective as DJs?
It all just comes down to track selection. For us it’s just about trying to make it as interesting as possible and not just the complacent rotation of 12-inches reflecting what’s happening in dance music at the moment. The Avalanches are probably our biggest influence on music, and their DJ mixes are always so musical and we’re always blown away by them, mixing My Bloody Valentine with David Bowie. It’s amazing listening to it when you’re out, but also at home.

What was it like touring with Daft Punk?
It was pretty surreal at times. When we started out, we kind of joked about supporting them one day. When we got the call to do it, they’re such an amazing team and a huge influence on us, just to be able to share the stage with them was certainly quite an honour. But also, Dan had met Thomas [Bangalter] while he was mixing the first album in Paris, so there was a little bit of history. Just being on that whole tour in Australia where they ended the tour, being there for the last shows was very special. They were huge, crazy shows.

Did you get to mess around in the pyramid or try on the robot costumes?
Umm… robot costumes were off limits [laughs] but the pyramid we got to walk around and take a look at what goes on in there. It was great to get up close and personal with it. I’ve got a good album in my iPhoto library of it all. (Modular/Fontana North)