Thirteen years in, Australian electronic band Cut Copy continues releasing albums so reliably solid I've given up fearing a misstep. Instead, I'm content to just cue up each new album on release day and let the new tracks wash over me like a sunbeam.
I bring up the sun because of its special place in just about every track on the new release Free Your Mind, on which they're "on a journey to the morning sun" and "shine[ing] brighter than the sun," and "are true believers when the sun goes down" and "like the sun, we're rising and we won't come down." They must've imbibed a straight diet of Ibiza acid house and put their Primal Scream albums on repeat to create this homage to the summers of love in ten psychedelic dance tracks (and a few spoken word interludes). To trot out a very tired joke, they're copying, cutting and pasting the sounds of 1967 and 1989 into something that is, while not altogether innovative, definitely a fun tribute.
But while their new output is all "free love" and "letting go," the mechanics and rigors of touring are still the same – that is, exhausting. I spoke with guitarist Tim Hoey before the group's Indy date about finding time to write during their world tour (or not), evolving their songs onstage and releasing new tracks for Record Store Day.
They'll play at the Vogue next week.
NUVO: At this point in touring an album — about 8 to 10 months after touring a new release – a lot of artists I speak with are already in the headspace of their next creative project, their next album. Is Cut Copy like that?
Tim Hoey: I think you go through periods of thinking of what you're going to do next. I think touring is a means of research, where we'll spend a lot of time in cities buying records and new gear and stuff like that. Sometimes, when touring, playing five or six shows a week, it's hard to even think about doing any kind of music, apart from the shows. On this tour, we've had some days off in Brazil and Barcelona, which is good for us to recharge our batteries and stuff like that. I guess we're always thinking about the next record, but we haven't really sat down and discussed it internally, or recorded anything for that matter. I think we're more of a band that has recording time and touring time, and we don't mix the two together.
NUVO: How have songs from Free Your Mind evolved as the tour has continued?
Hoey: I think we've really noticed people's reactions, from when we start touring this record in October to now, about how much better the newer songs are sounding live. A lot of feedback of people [saying that seeing us live] puts the album into a new perspective for them. It's cool to get that kind of feedback. I think everything seems to be going well. People are turning up to shows and seem to be appreciating everything. It's certainly a lot tighter now than what it was in, say, October, when we first started.
NUVO: Tell me about those two tracks you put on the Record Store Day release. Do those have a place in your live set?
Hoey: Not in this stage. We actually decided really late to do that RSD release. We had material left over from the Free Your Mind sessions that we didn't know what we were going to do with, and then the opportunity of RSD arose, so we decided to put those two tracks out. We haven't incorporated them into the set mainly because we haven't had time. And because they were B-sides from the record, we didn't really know if people wanted to hear them! The big thing was just focusing on songs from the record.
NUVO: I was talking to a band the other day who has made a transition from straight folk instrumentation to electronic dance music. They were talking about how they feel like they have less room to experiment onstage since they're more tied to samples and tracks that by their very nature are more precise. Although your style hasn't drastically altered, do you ever wish you had more room to experiment?
Hoey: I think that it depends from track to track. Obviously Dan [Whitford] uses a sequencer and a sampler live, so triggering those loops and playing those parts more or less stays the same each night, regardless of the environment we're playing. But we'll be able to, before we get out on the road, maybe change the songs around, or some of the material around. It gives us a little bit of freedom as far as what we're doing live. ... Some songs, the final sections of songs, they go up in a more, for want of a better term, jammy kind of aspect, but we're certainly not doing a hell of a lot of improvising up there, more because of the nature of the music than anything else.