When listening to the complex, polished, and innovative sounds of Cult Classic’s latest singles, one could be easily forgiven for mistaking the dramatic and trancelike music of self-described “creampop” Montreal band Cult Classic for that of a band with years more experience together. Despite forming just over a year ago, they have the charismatic swagger and experimental nature of a band established in the scene for many years.
“We’re for people who expect something different more than anything,” said vocalist and guitarist Chris Steward. “We try to be as unpredictable as possible with our music.”
‘Unpredictable’ is an apt choice of words when describing the unique tone the band has established—their distinctive sound can be hard to pin down with the folk singer-songwriter influences of vocalist/keyboardist Rosie Long Decter and the groovy jazz background of drummer Austin Pine. This diversity forms a striking yet engaging complement to the band’s quintessential dreampop and shoegaze sound. Their predominantly collaborative songwriting style allows the essence of each member’s unique backgrounds to shine throughout their catalogue.
The members of Cult Classic have made a substantial name for themselves in the local scene. Their focus has taken them from rough practices in the basement of Gardner Hall to playing high-profile shows with Fleece and Arkells within the span of months, and they show no signs of slowing down as they head into the studio in the upcoming weeks to begin the recording of their debut EP. It promises to be their most carefully produced and calculated recording work yet.
In the past, the band has entirely self-produced its releases, often working long distance on projects to record and mix singles.
“We recorded a song over the summer from like four or five different countries, just sending it back and forth on Facebook,” said Long Decter.
For their newest sessions, they will be consulting a recording engineer for assistance, upgrading their recording technology, and working every step of the way together as one.
“It’s kind of opening up a new dimension to the way people have heard the songs live,” says Steward. “Every time we go into the producing of a song, we think of a billion ideas [….] It’s going to be a bit more cohesive than our previous work.”
That type of cohesion is not only a focus of their upcoming EP, but of their sound as a whole. While the incorporation of smooth, flowing transitions between songs to generate a unified tone has been a central focus of their recording efforts for some time, they intend to step it up by working to generate a more atmospheric live show as well, generating a feel and sound that more closely parallels their recorded work.
“A lot of what we’ve been trying to do is to bring as many of our recorded aspects of a song [as possible] into the live show, and make them sound good as well, which is a challenge,” Steward explained. “I want to get to a point where everything is electronically connected [….] We want to keep the human live aspect of it, but at the same time we want everything to sound as polished and as good on stage as possible.”
Their swift rise has not been without difficulties. They found that the local music scene was more challenging to enter than they had expected.
“Montreal is definitely unique in terms of its music scene, but it’s a matter of finding your way into it,” says Long Decter.
The lineup has seen extensive changes even within the band’s short history—most recently the addition of bassist Tom Gould. While changes in lineup can often cause struggle in the creative output and unity of a group, the members of Cult Classic said that they are genuinely excited about the new directions and perspectives Gould brings to the band’s catalogue.
“Chris will show me a cool bass line, and I’ll just Kim Deal-ify it,” Steward quipped.
Cult Classic has proven itself in a strong way in its first year of existence. If the past is any indication, we can expect truly big things from the bands upcoming EP and future performances. Without a doubt, Cult Classic is a band to keep a close eye on in the coming months.
This article was corrected Feb. 6, 2015.