It’s a good time to be in Cut Copy. Guitarist Tim Hoey sounds very pleased with himself. And well he should be. The Australian band have just released their third album, Zonoscope to critical acclaim and are about to launch a world tour. The record is a decadent mix of electronic wizardry, thumping beats and strong melodies which draws on influences from the past four decades including Fleetwood Mac, New Order and Primal Scream.
The band started working on Zonoscope towards the end of 2009 but it wasn’t until they moved to a vacant warehouse that the album started to take shape. “When we saw it, it was perfect- an old abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of Melbourne. It was basically this big open cavernous space with old vintage recording equipment that didn’t work. We built this makeshift studio in the middle of the warehouse.”
An empty building like this might be tempting to be turned into a party venue, especially for dance musicians, but Tim assures me Cut Copy had other things on their mind. “It was strictly work. It was very secluded and shut off from the rest of the world and we didn’t have phones or internet. So we were creating our own world within this space. We liked the idea of being shut off from everything.”
As well as eliminating distractions the band found that working in a disused building had other benefits. “It gave us a lot of freedom to make the record. We weren’t constantly watching the clock or worrying about how much money we were spending because we weren’t in an expensive recording studio. It allowed us to experiment a bit more than we have before.”
When the album was finished it was sent over to North America to be mixed down by Ben Allen, who produced 2009’s album of the year Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective as well as working with Gnarls Barkley. “We were huge fans of that Animal Collective record and the Deerhunter album he worked on before Zonoscope. He has a very interesting background working with a lot of great late ’90s records. We saw he had this broad range of ability with hip-hop, modern R&B as well as indie-guitar music so we thought he would be the perfect fit for us and he totally ended up being that.”
One song that is already catching critic attention is the epic ‘Sun God’ which closes the album and clocks in at a hefty 15 minutes. “That song is very indicative of us as a whole. We had this idea to create a very rhythmic record and the idea was that the record begin with a transcendental meditation and end with a very euphoric hedonistic freak out. We reference a lot of the ’90s acid house era of music. It might not sound exactly like those songs but we are trying to capture that euphoric state. We didn’t just put a 15 minute on there for the sake of it. We felt the song deserved every second we used.”
Cut Copy also have a reputation for their energetic DJing skills and have put together compilations for labels such as Fabric and Modular Records. Are there any more mix CDs in the pipeline? “We haven’t done that much DJing recently but we have a new mix. It’s interesting because its not a straightforward dance-floor kind of mix. It’s more of a chill out mix that shows the journey of Zonoscope. We’re not actually going to release a tracklisting and there are a few really obscure tracks on it so it’ll be interesting to see if people can figure out the songs.”
The band are just about to embark on a world tour that will see them hit the US and Europe, stopping off in Galway next month. So what do they have planned for their performances? “Our live show is very different to anything we’ve done before. We wanted the live show to reflect the album, to try and create that world on stage. We’re taking cues from theatre as opposed to a typical rock show or rave. We want it to be a surprise for people who might’ve seen us before and we want it to be a challenge for us too so there’ll be a lot more instrumentation.”
However this isn’t the first or second band Cut Copy have visited Ireland. “I think our set at Oxegen was the first time we played in Ireland, and we did Electric Picnic which was really cool. We’ve come back to play some headline shows and we’ve found our audience has grown. It’s a great place to hang out. We’ve started to feel familiar with Ireland now!”
Joining Cut Copy in Galway will be New York band Holy Ghost! who have a bit of history with the Australians. ‘“Hold On’ was the first track of theirs that we became familiar with, and they remixed ‘Hearts on Fire’ for us off the last record which was really amazing. We became friends and we’ve toured together in Australia and DJed together in different places around the world. So they were our first choice to have touring with us.”
Before Tim hangs up I have to ask him the question that has been on my mind ever since I heard Cut Copy’s new album- what exactly is a Zonoscope? “A Zonoscope is the lens you would use to view this world that we have created. It’s almost like a birds eye view.. We like this idea of creating our own word for this record- from now on until the end of time whenever people say “Zonoscope” it’ll only be in reference to this record.”
Zonoscope is out now on Modular Recording and Cut Copy play the Radisson Blu on March 4th. For more information and to register for free tickets visit http://www.heinekenmusic.ie/greenspheres.