- Tue, 2008-08-26 10:12
"I Like Music because… I'm no good at anything else.” Nick Johnston, Cut Off Your Hands
ILM:Can you give us your personal description of the vibe of the debut album You and I?
Nick: It's raw and energetic but extremely poppy in that it's singular focus is the melodies and harmonies. Heavily inspired by classic pop song writers and producers. In particular Phil Spector, whom I've developed an obsession for over the last year. We wanted to create a record that listens from start to finish, as opposed to 12 attempts at hit singles all slapped together crudely. So there are some risks on the record, slower, more introverted tracks and lyrically a slightly more mature approach thematically.
ILM: You have some up and coming UK live dates. What can fans expect if they come to see you live?
Nick: We are still learning most of the record, so the live show is similar to what fans have seen from us before, however the newer ones add alot more vibrancy and fun to the set. I'm playing a lot more in the way of percussion, with added drums etc, and beginning to play guitars. It's just more fun really.
ILM: Can you describe the Cut Off Your Hands process of writing and recording such good music?
Nick: I tend to write mostly by myself, then bring to the band who help arrange etc. We've never decided on a particular process though, and occasionally attempt writing together, but with our hectic touring schedule, it's hard to find the time to all get together to practice in our off days. I just write and record in my spare time anyway, so naturally I'll be constantly emailing my new demos to the guys. That was how this record was conceived, I'd broken my foot at the end of a tour with Foals, so all NZ summer I was locked in my room just writing and recording alone whilst everyone was off at the beach.
ILM: What are some of your key sources of inspiration?
Nick: Seeing great live shows, getting excited about music I haven't heard or given time to before. I like to keep a diary to document particular instances in which I find myself intrigued. This can be from writing down key passages in a book I'm reading to researching a particular sound on a record that I can't figure out..anyway this probably sounds silly, the simple answer is constantly engaging myself with new music and literature.
ILM: You have just released the track The Witch for free download online. Why did you make this decision? Where do you stand on the whole internet/free music debate?
Nick: I think it's great that so many people around the world can now access bands they would never had heard of pre-internet, so I'm all for it. We recently played in Tokyo, where kids only know of us through blogs and myspace, yet they were singing along to all the songs! Obviously money needs to be made to support the careers of hardworking/deserving musicians, but that's where live shows and merch come in to play. Punters just have to expect to pay more for those things now.
ILM: Have you got any advice for others looking to come into music industry?
Nick: I'm too inexperienced to offer advice. Ask me in another couple years.
ILM: What are the future plans for Cut Off Your Hands?
Nick: Release this record, tour it, write a new one, release it tour it, etc etc
ILM:Can you describe your favourite place on Earth?
Nick: We were just in the South island of NZ playing at a festival that was at the foot of one of the largest mountains there. Everywhere was covered in snow and we were taken for jetboating and helicopter rides, so that was pretty nice. There's stacks of amazing places like that in NZ - it would take too long to describe!
ILM: What is your earliest musical memory?
Nick: My Mum singing nothing you could do could take me away from my guy to me when I was about three or four, haha!
ILM: What was the last thing that really made you laugh?
Nick: That memory!
ILM: If you could change one thing about modern society, what would it be?
Nick: What's going on with all the stabbings in London right now.
ILM: What’s in your CD player right now?
Nick: I left my ipod in Australia last week, so am trying to get a friend to send it over asap, but I'm not sure if I should trust the post with such an item...But I've been listening to 'the caretaker' a guy who makes beautifully haunting ambient music by slowing down old 1920's dance hall records, so that's probably been played the most recently, along with Ariel Pink's Worn Copy record.