16.04.2011, Words by Ruth Saxelby

Quick catchup: CYMBALS

CYMBALS are Jack, Dan and Sean, a dancey art-pop trio from London. Remember, we first met them last summer. Having caught their very first gig at label Tough Love’s night round then too – a little shaky but fizzing with promise, with spark – it was a little surprising to hear they’d be delivering a debut album a matter of months later. But oh my, ‘Unlearn’ – out on May 9th on Tough Love – is a really bloody good one. With mixing contributions from Rory Brattwell, James Yuill and D/R/U/G/S, it’s a 10-strong collection of pure, simple, cheek-flushing songs with designs on both your heart and dancing feet. Download Single Printed Name on the right and check out the video for Summer Escaping below to see what I mean.

Tonight they play their album launch party at The Victory on Kingsland Road (event on Facebook), ahead of which Jack answered a few questions.

How does it feel to have the album done?

Really nice. It’s great to be able to put out a document of (nearly) our first year as a band. It’s crazy that people we don’t know want to listen to it.

How different is to to that first version I heard?

Really different. I remember we sent you a totally unmixed version. I think James’ mixes and Cal D/R/U/G/S mixes came through at different times. Jake has a really minimal mixing style that we love (he recorded and mixed our Pavement cover) but even his version was literally run straight out of the desk. We actually were going to use a different mix of Single Printed Name, but when Cal sent through his it was so big we were like, we need to go back and get this version mastered…

Is this the album you set out to make or are you surprised by the result?

The album really came together in a number of different locations over the past year, and was mixed by different people in different places. So in some ways it’s a surprising animal.

What’s your favourite track and why?

I think mine might be Cut Jeans. I don’t know why, maybe because it’s about skateboarding. I know Dan’s favourite is Jane.

Why was it important to you to create a physical record? And a such a beautiful one at that? (Check out the gallery.)

Sinead Evans’s artwork has been as much a part of CYMBALS as any of the music from the start. At our first gig we were selling screen prints she had done to accompany the songs we had released on Bandcamp. We didn’t promote them very well but people got in touch over the internet and they all sold out. They seem to have an immediate effect
on people. I think the design itself shows the darker/softer side of the music which isn’t immediately obvious on the surface. It’s early stages of the band though, so we like the idea of having a limited release, sounds dumb but it’s like people can get something special that other people don’t have.

How did you work with Sinead to come up with the sleeve artwork?

In terms of ‘work’, all the credit needs to go to Sinead, 300 is a lot for one person! I think from the start there was a fantasy of seeing Sinead’s original design as 12” artwork some day, but we knew it would have to be done right. Screenprinting the design was really the only way of doing her design justice.

What do you have coming up over the next few months?

We’re recording new songs at a studio on a boat called Lightship 95, where Mazes recorded their album. We’re excited to work with the engineer, Ben Phillips, and generally hang around on a boat for a week. We’re playing an XFM show for John Kennedy on 20 May at Tooting Tram & Social. We’re working on a collaboration with Lazy Hurricane too…

CYMBALS ‘Unlearn’ is out on Tough Love Records on 9th May. Their album launch party is at The Victory (details here) tonight.


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