Band Of The Week #0090 - Cultdreams


This week’s Band Of The Week is alternative rockers Cultdreams, who have just released their second album ‘Things That Hurt’ via Big Scary Monsters Records. They took a moment to talk to us about the release.

You recently changed the band name, and have mentioned that it reflects the sound of these new songs. When did you start to feel a shift in the sound?
Conor (Drummer): We realised that there was a shift in the sound well before we decided on a new name. We started writing this record in September of last year and had a couple of songs by November, but the main bulk of the writing probably happened between November and February, so the writing phase of the album was pretty much finished by the time we settled on the new name. It was probably then that we realised that the new sound fits the new name way better than our old name did.

The songs feel really weighty, yet ethereal. How do you go about the recording songs in order to achieve this? Do you use pedals, or is it more of a layering of the elements?
C: We usually start with the drums and get loads of really good takes of them, then start to build on top of this. We actually changed the way we record this time round. In the past we've built the album up instrument by instrument then recorded all of the vocals at the end, but that was tough on Lucinda having to do everything at the same time, so this time round we tackled it song by song. We started by building a core guitar sound—that yes, involved lots and lots of guitar pedals. I remember day one of guitar, I took Aubrey the Dog for a walk around the block and when I came back there was a sea of guitar pedals on the floor of the studio and Lucinda was talking to Bob about how we wanted Chorus on every single part of the album. 

There are strong references to struggling with mental health littered throughout Things That Hurt. What makes you feel brave enough to be so honest with these struggles? 
Lucinda (Guitarist): I think when it comes to lyrics I just write what comes naturally. I use songwriting to empty my head. I guess I don’t really think about them being overly honest, it’s just emptying all the stuff out of my brain. I’ve never been one to use metaphors, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not really my approach to writing lyrics. A lot of my favourite songwriters are the ones that are the most frank and sincere and stark, and I take a lot of inspiration from that when it comes to writing my own lyrics. 

How much in the lyrical content is real life or dramatization? There are some heavy stories that are played out in Flowers On Their Grave and Toxic, for example.
L: None of it is a dramatisation, it’s just things I’ve experienced and things that have happened that I then reflect on and write about.

In what kind of timeframe were the songs written, and then recorded? Did any of your old demos from living in different countries make the cut? 
C: All the tracks were written probably between September '18 and February ’19, and the we recorded everything in Leeds over the space of 10 days. All of the music was from ideas that were brand new, and sent over through voice memos and Whatsapp, and a lot of the lyrical content was stuff that Lucinda has had collected for a while that fitted in with the mood that we were going for with this album.

How did the collaborations on ‘We Never Rest’ and ‘Don’t Let Them Tell You Otherwise’ all come together?
C: We have been friends with Katie and Dave from TWIABP for years now, we first played with them on their first UK tour, and had the pleasure of doing a full UK/EU tour with them last year too. We have always been a massive fan of collabs and have tried to include at least one on every single release we’ve ever done. When Lucinda first wrote the lyrics to this, it was sent over to me with the notes saying "I think this would be perfect to have a collab on, so I could do some shouts over the chorus". The first people we thought of were TWIABP because they’ve been one of our favourite bands for years now and having toured with them we knew it would be a perfect fit for the sound we wanted. Luckily they both agreed and sent the audio over within a couple of days and it sounds so incredible. It’s pretty much exactly the same story with Dan on Don’t Let Them Tell You. We both went to music college with him a few years ago and always said that we really wanted him to play saxophone on a track for us but it has never worked out until now. It was a really fun process recording this track because it was something we’d never tried before and I think the outcome has been great, and it’s now one of our favourite tracks on the record. 

Between SAD and Seafoam, you had quite an intense touring schedule. Will you do things differently this time round?
Hopefully our tour schedule will be even more intense this time round, but in different ways. A lot of the touring from SAD and into Seafoam was very, very DIY. We did self-booked tours driving for 16 hours in a pick up truck in the States, cramming ourselves into vans with not enough seats and staying on venue floors and in some well dodgy places. So hopefully now we're at a point where we can do things a bit better and treat ourselves with more care that we definitely deserve. We always want to do as many shows as is possible and play in every single place that will have us, but I think now we’re also learning that taking the right shows and the ones that can afford ourselves a certain amount of comfort on tour is just as important for your wellbeing as playing a million sick shows.