Cults were deep into recording their new album, Host, when singer/multi-instrumentalist Madeline Follin let a secret slip.
“In the past, I’d never brought my own music to the table because I was just too shy,” says Follin, “but at some point during the sessions, I mentioned that I’d been writing some songs on the side, and our producer, Shane Stoneback, asked me to share them.”
“When Shane and I heard what Madeline had written, we couldn’t believe it,” says multi-instrumentalist Brian Oblivion. “The music just floored us.”
What followed was a reimagining of their sound and dynamic. Written collaboratively and recorded with live instruments, the collection marks the start of a bold new chapter. The songs are deceptively charming, with lush, airy arrangements that belie their dark, weighty lyrics, with rich multifaceted production to match, blending retro & futuristic palettes into a spellbinding swirl of high-def indie rock & lo-fi bedroom pop.
Host is an exploration of the sinister dynamics at play in a parasitic relationship and charting a cathartic journey towards freedom and self-reliance, reveling in the power that comes from standing your ground and declaring independence in the face of exploitation and manipulation.
“Each song on this album feels like it represents a different step in the process of breaking free from whatever’s draining you,” says Follin. “Only once you’ve done that are you really in a position to accept something new and healthy into your life.
(Photo Credit: Maxwell Kamins)
We’ve been making music videos and trying to be more active on social media, which we weren’t previously. We’ve been doing sessions that we’re recording on our own, and starting to write for another record. We’ve also been playing a lot of ping pong — that’s pretty much our only hobby at this point.
We’ve always been really involved in the process of picking a treatment and director [for our videos] — maybe one time we had tried to make a music video, but we couldn’t pull it together. We just started panicking that we weren’t going to have any content for any of our releases, and we were isolating with our friend who had made a few videos before, so I just went upstairs and was like, “Hey, do you wanna help us come up with an idea?” He was like, “Let’s do an ASMR video,” but that was going to be hard to get across, so we came up with the mukbang thing. We’d definitely never been so involved in the process of making a video before, but we knew we had to figure it out.
For the past 10 years, we’ve always had a guitar player, but [we didn’t] when we were all together, so I had to pull it together and become a guitar player. I kind of knew how to play, but I really zoned in and started practicing and learning how to play all of our songs. Before, I hadn’t really brought my own ideas to the table, but somebody found out that I was hiding music and was like, “Let us hear it right now!” We ended up using a lot of those ideas that before I would have been too nervous to share.
We finished the album last November, but we pushed [the release] back a couple times, and we weren’t even sure we were going to put it out until everything was semi-back to normal. But it doesn’t look like that’s ever going to happen, so. It’s funny, we named the album Host and a lot of it is about parasitic relationships, and then it ended up being released in a pandemic. I still feel like it’s actually perfect that it’s coming out now — I feel like it fits almost better.
(Photo Credit: Maxwell Kamins)