Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Cults plan to revisit Northampton

By Lindsey Tulloch

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Cults are taking Northampton by storm – but don’t panic.

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The indie-pop band Cults will be gracing the Pearl Street Ballroom with its presence this Sunday at 8:30 p.m., and based on the prolonged hype surrounding the band’s first album release, it’s sure to be a memorable show.

While the fan base is assuredly not a cult (in the traditional sense), Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion have amassed a considerable following. They first attracted attention back in early 2010 by posting a three-song EP on the website Bandcamp, a platform that promotes emerging independent artists. The response they garnered was so positive that it wasn’t long before they released their full-length, eponymous debut – a  project they’d previously been working on just to share among friends.

Little did the couple know, they were destined for something much bigger.

Follin and Oblivion, both 23,  are originally from San Francisco. They also both studied film at The New School in New York. After moving there for school, they decided to stay on the East Coast and establish more permanent roots in the Big Apple.

What’s really got people talking is the fact that both members are only in their early 20s, and yet their music is infused with sounds from the ‘60s and ‘80s. In an interview with Pitchfork, Oblivion explained how he and Follin began the delicate balance of sampling and genre-blending.

“When we got together and started dating, we had the problem of finding music to listen to,” said Oblivion in the interview. “We met up on the common ground of Motown and soul music.”

Equally intriguing is the band’s choice to include snippets of British cult leaders and members talking. Oblivion shed some light on this unique decision as well.

“A lot of the idea of the band and its name is the idea of liberation, of choosing your own way of doing things,” he told Pitchfork. “I wanted to incorporate these speakers saying beautiful things even though they’re bad people.”

The album follows through with the idea of beautiful juxtaposed with dark and ugly, and capture as a counterpoint to release. The single “Go Outside” may be a cheerful-sounding tune introduced by melodic percussion, but the voices of the cult speakers are still floating hauntingly in the background.

Though this album is the first foray into the commercial world of music for both members of Cults, Follin revealed that she was actually offered a record contract when she was just 9 years old.

“It was pretty funny,” recalled Follin in the Pitchfork interview. “My stepdad’s band was recording, and I just got on the mic … some record company offered to sign me, but my parents wouldn’t let me.”

The couple was a little overwhelmed by the immediacy of their positive feedback, especially at first. They found it bizarre that fans were so interested to know more about them as the figures behind the music.

“As cheesy and cornball as it sounds, at the end of the day, it’s all about the songs,” Oblivion told Pitchfork. “We want to make classic music, and where we live or how old we are and what records we’ve played on before is all interesting, but that doesn’t really matter.”

Now, two years later, Follin and Oblivion have settled a bit more into their newfound celebrity. They’re just about to wrap up a tour that’s taken them all across the United States, Canada and Australia, with a few quick stops in Asia. In the past, they’ve also toured much of Western Europe.

And they’re no strangers to Massachusetts, either. Cults has played a number of shows in Boston, and the duo even visited Northampton once before for a show at the Iron Horse Music Hall in June 2011.

For Sunday’s show, Cults will be playing with Spectrals and Mrs. Magician. Tickets are $12.50 on the Northampton Box Office website www.nbotickets.com or $15 at the door.

Lindsey Tulloch can be reached at [email protected]

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