Cut Copy at Grand Central June 18
Cut Copy takes 1995 to the future.
The last time Cut Copy performed outside Ultra Music Festival (which the Aussie outfit has played three times), it was for a couple of back-to-back concerts at Grand Central. The band sold out one night. So the venue took a gamble and booked the band for a second evening. The wager paid off with a packed house for both shows.
So how does a band all the way from Australia, with no Billboard chart-toppers — or any real chart appearances to speak of — become such a popular touring act?
"We always try to make it the best show possible," guitarist Tim Hoey explains, "so it makes people want to come back and bring friends."
Hoey and his bandmates recently began the latest leg of their North American tour, which launched in Canada and will take them back to Miami only three months after their appearance at Ultra 2014 in March.
"We've been [to Miami] a lot for Ultra Music Festival, which is another beast all together, so it's kind of good that we are going and doing headlining shows there. You guys have a lot of sunshine and ocean, so it makes it kind of easy coming from Australia."
The Cut Copy guys are on the road supporting their latest effort, Free Your Mind, an album that marks a slight departure from previous work. Where 2011's Zonoscope was cheery New Wave in the vein of Men at Work, and 2008's In Ghost Colors experimented with icy beats and angular synth work, this most recent release mixes psychedelia, acid rock, and house, while still sounding like the Cut Copy that everyone knows and loves.
"Each record, we always try to switch up the way we make it, whether it's working with certain people, using different instruments, or approaching the songwriting differently. This record, I guess, was born out of a process that [frontman] Dan [Whitford] took of writing new material every day and sharing it around. As the process went along, we started pulling out the interesting parts and making a kind of arc."
What emerged were tracks such as "Let Me Show You Love," which features a churning beat and seductive vocals by Whitford. For "We Are Explorers," the band channels '80s New Order and Depeche Mode before delving into Cut Copy's signature trait: a hook-laden chorus made for big, crowd-wide sing-alongs. Meanwhile, the album's title track continues to make use of the tribal beats the band began exploring on Zonoscope.
"I think a lot of the direction of this record had to do with an interest in early-'90s house music and instruments like the drum machines — 808s, 909s, 303s. That kind of really shaped the sound of the record."
Hoey admits he and the band are always looking for new sounds and equipment with which to experiment, even while out on tour. It's this willingness to try different instruments and songwriting methods that has kept them relevant for more than a decade.
As for the live show, with four albums now under the band's belt, fans can expect plenty of old favorites. But the guitarist asks that everyone not be upset if the set list is heavier on the material from Free Your Mind.
"Naturally, every time we tour, there's always the focus on the new record."
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.