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Playing: WL15 Night 3 – Sunday Feb. 15 @ The Garrison (2AM set!)
This time last year, Cellphone were getting ready to play a Wavelength show at Smiling Buddha. Back then, Mike Wirth Broth took the time to talkwith Cam Gordon and discuss about their upcoming album release. Fast forward to 2015 — that album, Excellent Condition, has been released to a barrage of praise and positive vibes. A hurricane of distortion and raw energy, whatever you want to call it — punk, post-punk, a reference to the Dead Kennedys — these songs will jolt you awake from a sleep you didn’t know you were in, and will keep you buzzed all day. To catch up on the past year, Broth filled Kristin Lee Bryson in on the logistics of translating synth, their experiences recording with Don Pyle, and how not to be a consumer research analyst.
I saw a really cool trailer for the album you just released last fall, Excellent Condition. Tell me more about the disjointed noise and experimental visuals.
We never originally planned on making a trailer. Our pal Chris Levett shot some really tense looking footage of us performing and we weren’t exactly sure what to do with it, so we made a trailer. I’ve always had mixed feelings about album trailers, and I can’t say that releasing one ourselves has changed my general opinion on the whole “hype game.” Needless to say, I’m very thankful that we managed to make good use of this professionally shot footage.
Excellent Condition has an immense undercurrent of live energy. How do you think these recorded songs compare to your live performance?
Don Pyle [producer, sound designer and drummer for Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet] recorded the drums, bass and guitar all off the floor. I think this process is a good way to capture the live element of a more visceral sounding band. I hear about some of the ways people record, and it boggles my mind that people will play guitars to a click track and then have a drummer come in and “fill the blanks.” I’m not trying to rag on people too hard for recording “rock music” this way, but I do think that you can potentially lose a band’s chemistry.
Our live performances are faster in speed and much of the synth work is simplified for the sake of cohesion. We also like to improvise, especially with the song intros. Sometimes we really nail these jammed-out introductions, other times we don’t. Regardless of that, I really like how the crowd’s attention becomes reset when the song finally comes in. It can be a bit nerve-racking at times, but why do something if you know it’s gonna work every single time?
What was your most memorable experience recording with your friend Don Pyle? What kind of influence did his experience have on the recordings?
My most memorable experience working with Don was hanging out in his extremely tasteful kitchen. Haha! The whole experience was great and memorable though! He really influenced the crazier side of Cellphone. Couldn’t recommend him more, and would love to work with him again very soon.
Cellphone is playing as part of the upcoming Wavelength Music Festival. What kind of fans do you see out at your shows? Who is listening to the music you’re writing, and what else do they listen to?
If we really knew the answer to these questions, we’d either work as consumer research analysts or be rich and sound like Radiohead. But aside from all that, I think people are bound to like what you make if you as the creator actually know what you like.
I recently read about your upcoming show with fellow Canadian band Crosss in NYC next month. Have you played with them before? What are your thoughts on playing in the States? What’s up next for the band?
As label mates, we’ve played with Crosss a couple of times. I hang out with the band’s members almost every day too, it kind of makes my life feel like a sitcom and I’m definitely okay with that! Although our bands are nothing alike, I feel like theirs is some sort of shared collective vibe. We plan on touring Excellent Condition well into the summer. We also have about an album’s worth of new material, so expect some more Cellphone soon!
— Interview by Kristin Lee Bryson
Photo credit Joceyln Reynolds