One of my favourite moments with Cull was actually after the interview. Once we’d wrapped up with the business side of things, we bought burritos, and had a picnic on the footpath in a nearby park. Alex turned to me at one point and said, “Hey, you know poppers?”
“What, like amyl?” I replied. Far from being an expert, I was impressed that I’d managed to pluck that little bit of recreational drug trivia from the back of my mind, and use it to maintain the cool-guy front that I figured was probably necessary when hanging out with a band in Newtown. It wasn’t.
“No, like juice boxes,” said Alex. “Have you ever bought a bunch of poppers, and frozen them? They’re, like, a very good snack.”
Cull are great.
During the interview, I asked very few of the questions that I’d prepared. One of the questions I didn’t ask was: “I’ve seen Cull described multiple times as ‘friendrock’ and there are definitely pretty strong ‘friend’ vibe across all your social media. Is this deliberate, or accidental?” I didn’t get a chance to ask this question, because we quickly fell into a conversation that meandered through this sort of material:
“I have to be careful that the photos I tag of Chumpy are non-nude.”
“When we met, we were young, independent press, minimalist douchebags. Now we’re just a different kind of douchebag, I guess.”
“Goats are shitheads, dude. They’re an excellent farming animal; they’re super hardy, they don’t require a lot of food, they can live anywhere. So, we should farm more of them, but punish them for being dickheads by eating them.”
“Oh, yeah, there were definitely some hot 3D models in EverQuest.”
Alex, Chumpy and I chatted in the quietest pub we could find amongst the chaos that was King Street on ANZAC Day, and after half an hour, I realised that we actually hadn’t talked about Cull at all. At least the authenticity of their friend vibes wasn’t in question.
After plenty of idle banter and a couple of beers, we eventually got talking about the band’s direction.
“When we started out, our first track was a little reminiscent of Tame Impala. There was plenty of phaser, there was a sensible amount of fuzz, and right from the start people were like ‘Hey, I’m digging the Tame Impala vibe to this!’ We knew when we were releasing it that we’d get that comparison, and it’s something that we’ve always kept in our mind. Tame Impala are so big, and they do what they do so well, and we don’t want to be another Tame Impala clone. It certainly helps us that they paved the way for Australian psychedelic rock; people are now allowed to be vocal about loving psych music.”
We were interrupted briefly by someone yelling at a pinball machine. Alex jumped back in when I asked whether he thought Tame Impala were responsible for the current shoegaze renaissance.
“Well, we’re certainly not the only shoegaze band that’s popped up in the past five years. That said, I don’t think shoegaze ever really stopped. Some people have said that it’s a twenty year cycle, but the reality is, people are only saying that because My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive are releasing albums, and the last time they did that was twenty years ago. People have been making shoegaze music in between.
“A couple of weeks ago I saw a band called Sounds Like Sunset, playing with Roku Music at Black Wire Records. They’re one of the bands that make me think that shoegaze hasn’t just sprung up again, because they’ve been doing it for ages, and have been doing it so fucking well!
“It’s so much easier for Cull, as a band, to go in and make music, because these guys have done it first. I assume it’s the same way every Australian hip hop artist feels after Hilltop Hoods and Bliss n Eso. It’s like, these two bands have done something for everyone else, so now it’s easier for Remi to do it. And that’s no discredit to him, it’s just that there’s now a market that exists. It also means that there’s a kind of foundation for experimentation, and taking the genre to the next level.”
Cull are certainly doing their part. They’ve just started pre-production on their second EP, with a fresh bass player and a million guitar pedals on board. I asked Chumpy about the new direction that they’re looking to take.
“Our last EP was called Bà Nội, which is Vietnamese for ‘paternal grandmother,’ and was about the recent passing of my own grandmother. With EP 2, I wanted to depart from that idea of grieving, and I wanted to see how I could expand on the ideas of the first EP.
“I realised that my grandmother absolutely left a void in my life. My grandmother was somebody who supported me in whatever I did, without question. I guess it’s kind of strange for a grandmother – and I don’t want to sound racist, but an Asian grandmother – to support the arts, because one, it’s not stable, and two, it’s not stable. But she supported me anyway. For EP 2, I started thinking about what kind of things in my life provide the same foundation of support that my grandmother did. I had a serious think about it, and there’s kind of nobody else. Although, my dad did actually join Facebook so he could catch up on all the stuff that’s happening with the band.”
As far as the recording process itself, Cull are sticking to what they know.
“We finished our last EP the night before it went to press. There was no consideration, there was no review. We just discussed it as a band and we were like “This is really good!” And seven months later, it was a really good EP. I think that the way people have responded to it is enough for us to do it that way again.”
They expect the next EP towards the end of this year. Until then, Cull will be doing their swirly, wobbly thing at a couple of upcoming gigs. They’re playing Yon Plume’s Plastic Nightclub at Oxford Art Factory this Saturday the 10th, with “so many good bands, especially Miners – our favourite Wollongong shoegaze band.” After that, it’ll be Spectrum on the 23rd of May, and then something “really fucking exciting going down in June, that I wish I could talk about, but can’t.”
Go, and make some new friends.
By Jake Ausburn