New Music
08.08.2010, Words by Ruth Saxelby

CYMBALS interview: "A life of its own."

It’s been widely reported, but the death – or dearth – of exciting guitar based music has been widely exaggerated. As Chillwave rapidly becomes just as stagnant and saturated at the landfill Indie it replaced, the alternatives are already plentiful in their brilliance. At one end of the spectrum, Witch House has been tearing up tape decks around the globe. At the other sit CYMBALS. Coming together in their practice space of Netil House in East London, Dan mans the synths, Sean bangs his drums and lead singer Jack plays guitar to craft the group’s unique Art Pop.

A glorious juxtaposition of ideals, their sound is one lead by guitar but their influences stray into the realms of Funk. “Dance music can easily become a bit serious,” Jack confesses. “Dan emails these instrumental synth tracks around – they have an awesome ingénue quality to them. You try to figure out how to reproduce these House sounds with the equipment you have – guitar pedals – and just trying to play really fast.” The end product is one that has a futuristic outlook, but the band still name check Post Punk legends Talking Heads in interview and take points of reference from the 19th century. “Painters in Paris in the 1860s/70s would ask each other how their ‘machine’ was going,” says Jack. “The line in Summer Job about working on a new machine comes from that.”

So why did they get together? “We basically wanted to do something that would always be fun,” says Sean. Whilst other bands dream of world domination from the offset, the plans for CYMBALS were a little bit smaller: “You get together, have a drink, write songs together and make other people (the other people in your band) listen to music you like.” He makes it sound simple, as if throwing together instant classics like Summer Job and new track Good Luck (download it above) is something anyone could’ve done. The thick riffs belie the subtle nuances of the band – the embellishments being just as an important part of the noise at the chugging rhythm at the core of it. If the expectations for each track are simple – “it needs to make us want to dance” – then the concepts are not: “In [the Charlie Kaufman movie] Synecdoche, New York, the guy just builds this thing and the creating of it becomes the thing itself. We just wanted [our music] to have a life of its own without us needing to play it to anyone, ever.”

Though they might not need to play it to anyone, there’s a burgeoning demand for their jaunty melodies. Words don’t come close to capturing the urgent clatter of their instruments; their peculiarly angular racket reminiscent of falling down stairs, yet somehow remaining stylish. There’s always going to be something appealing about a band who can take a Pavement song and make it their own, as CYMBALS have done with Kennel District – something all the more remarkable given it was only the second song they made available. They’re the kind of band that grow with each listen, making Sean’s claim that that “if we end up just playing parties for friends that’d be perfect” seem ever more distant – the horizons for this band stretch much further than some mate’s dingy basement.

Catch CYMBALS at White Heat at Madam JoJo’s with Fang Island on Tuesday 7 September. Keep an ear out for remixes by D/R/U/G/S, Little Loud and Dream Cop soon.”


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