War On Mediocrity
Theyâ€™ve been described by fans as â€˜hobos who make great musicâ€™, but according to Cold War Kidsâ€™ bassist Matt Maust, these four lads from California donâ€™t take that as a negative.
â€œI think it's a compliment. He's probably referring to us being a little scruffy and rough around the edges, I commend him. It sounds poetic to me.â€ Poetic could be seen as an understatement, or perhaps their fans like to emulate the intense creativity of Nathan Willet, Matt Aveiro, Jonnie Russell and Maust, who sum up their sound in one short sentence.
â€œWe're the sound of four guys playing soul music in kind of a punk way, but in the best use of the word punk, not one of the other uses.â€
Hailing from small-town Fullerton, these â€˜scruffyâ€™ kids have made a name for themselves the world over with their indie/ soul/ punk tunes, showcased over several EPs and albums, with their latest, 'Mine Is Yours', due out in January. Matt says with 'Mine Is Yours', the boys ditched their usual recording style.
â€œWith this record we did everything backwards. We went into the studio with about 40 ideas, no full songs written, but a lot of ideas, a lot of melodies. We spent a whole month just working those ideas and taking them as far as we could take them and then moving to a different studio and really doing all the tracking at the next studio for an additional month.â€
The boys' decision to up the ante came after their second album, 'Loyalty To Loyalty', presented them with a chart reaching record, but no feeling of challenge, either mentally or physically.
â€œWe didn't feel too challenged with our second record. Now we're learning to play our songs live, whereas before, we'd always play our songs live on audiences and really get comfortable with the music that way. This time it's backward, we're on a small California tour at the moment, we're learning to play the songs and it's going great.â€
But learning to play songs live isn't a bad thing when they've been put together by production legend Jacquire King, of Norah Jones, Modest Mouse and Kings of Leon fame. The result was a combination of their old-school soul and blues influences but with a modern spin.
â€œThe songs are different so far as taking the sheer time to really look at every detail of every song, and seeing how it can be recorded in different ways and looking back, taking notes, and really working hard that way. That's going to naturally make the record sound different, the songs are going to be a little less jangly and much more emphatic. I think it's our best one yet.â€
The Californian quartet doesn't have to rely on magic producers though; their raw and energetic live performances have had them packing out venues across the globe since they started touring fervently in 2006-2007. But Matt says no matter the venue size, they try to make their gigs as personal as possible.
â€œThe first time we played Glastonbury, it's hard to explain but walking onto the stage it felt so surreal because there were so many people, but at the same time it only makes you turn inward to your band mates and it starts becoming a fairly intimate show.
â€œWe haven't played for very long, we're only newbies, but when you're playing shows, you start forgetting about the size of the crowd and it doesn't become about numbers anymore, it becomes about the overall vibe.â€
Brisbane audiences can expect a slice of that intimacy when the Kids bring their new material to the festival scene. With stronger, blues-influenced verses and catchy, sing-a-long choruses, the tunes from 'Mine Is Yours' have already infected their home-state fans with Cold War Kids fever. Matt says rocking out the songs before the album release will challenge Aussie listeners.
â€œYou can only move your body so much to songs you don't know, but I think we're anticipating great shows and just really challenging the listener to sitting through half a set of new songs; I think it's kind of difficult for people, but if anyone, Australia can do it. They're artistic people down there, they've got good minds.â€
Cold War Kids play Sunset Sounds, at the Brisbane Riverstage and Botanical Gardens, January 5-6. â€˜Mine Is Yoursâ€™ will be released in late January.