Taking a little break from his art studio, in down town Los Angele’s, Matt Maust a founding member of Cold War Kids answered the phone to have a chat to us Rabbitors. Having met after college in 2004 the band initially started playing for fun at friends backyard parties, realising their potential, one thing led to another and before they knew it, they were touring and putting out records. Lucky for us, Cold War Kids will be hitting Australian shores next month for Byron Bay's Bluesfest!
So Matt I Have To Ask, Where Did The Name Come From?
I discovered the name back in the 90’s, I had the name as kind of like a motif, it was actually the name of my portfolio website as a graphic designer. I do a lot of travelling with my brother throughout Europe, we came up with the name. Then I had it for a couple of years, then when we started playing music we didn’t have a name for the first couple of months and the band asked if we could use it. The band said ‘We should use that it’s a great motif, it’s a great vibe’, then I was like ‘Hell f**kn Yeah why not’
Then the website became a vehicle to capture what we were doing as friends, kinda like pre-tumblr, like a blog. All the early artwork like from Robbers and Cowards, you’ll see was definitely much more of a friend thing and all of our surroundings then just the band.
And You Do All The Artwork For The Band?
Yep, I studied Graphic design in college and picked up that skill and have done all the artwork ever since
What’s The Creative Process For You guys When Creating An Album, Song Or EP?
Well Nathan is the main songwriter, we all contribute something but he goes to his cave and bangs it out. The creative process for us well it’s real organic, half the time we don’t even realise we’re doing anything. We set up an environment where everyone’s really comfortable, if you’re not comfortable when your art making or song writing chances are it’s not going to come. It’s a lot like fishing I think, with fishing you do a lot of setting up and make sure your environment is perfect for the fish to come, but the fish have to come to you. You can’t go get it.
I always onder hat n artist’s thought process is in the studio. Presumably your creating art for themselves first and foremost but is it hard not let other influences seep in and mess with the process if you let it—thinking, “Are my fans, or critics, going to like this song?”
I think you have to just.... I don't know what it is....It’s very intuitive and you do what you do and you let the people produce, but with people who can take your wild wacky ideas and make them acceptable for people. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things, I’ll never fully understand it and I don’t think that I do. I think there’s some secret kind of hand shake that you learn along the way. Being wacky but letting the production create something that also is acceptable.
So critics have said that ‘Hold My Home’ saw you guys revisiting your roots and has brought a new sense of confidence, do you think that’s true?
The making of the first record and the making of the 5th record felt very similar to me, like in vibes. And I think that the way we went about it, recording of it and the spirit of it was very in-tune with the first couple of years with our band. They’re totally different songs and styles but the spirit was very similar. It was fun! I don’t think we revisited it in a nostalgic way but it was definitely a really fun process...certain records stand out as harder than others to make and I think this last one ... well we caught a lot of fish with this one...the record found us. It was hard work, but it wasn’t hard.
"First" went on to chart at number 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, making it the band's highest charting single ever, how did that feel after 10 years being in the industry?
We kept watching it as a band climb and climb and climb. You can’t put a label on that, it’s about as good as it gets. You always want a number 1 but the song first didn’t come about until the record was done and it was an after thought. We went into the studio to finish of our stragglers for the EP and I remember myself and our drummer Joe really bugging me to finish that song (we didn’t have a name back then) but it wasn’t supposed to be on the record. That’s why it’s a single and if first had been done, we wouldn’t have first as the first single. We put it on their last minute and it just climbed like crazy. It was insane and really wild to because the record become number 1 a full year after the record came out. Our record promotions guys told us he had never seen that happen before so it’s pretty wild.
After such a long time in the industry where do you continue to draw inspiration from?
For me, everywhere, a lot of it is art and film. I think me and Nathan talk about film more than we do music. I do a lot of film things on ‘Hold My Home’ you never want to draw inspiration from being a touring band because then it becomes too internal and insular. La is the most insane place, so you literally can’t walk up the street without being inspired here. And I would love to do this as long as I can.
Your regular visitors to our shores, having toured here numerous times over the last few years including festival appearances at Falls, Southbound and Splendour in the Grass and your about to come over for Bluesfest. What’s your favourite thing about touring Australia?
I love this restaurant in Sydney called The Claypot haha unsual answer but our drummer introduced Nathan and I to it a few trips ago and I think it’s my favourite restaurant. And I absolutely love Melbourne, I think Melbourne has to be one of my all time favourite cities.
How do the fans differentiate from here?
I feel like Australian fans have an appreciation that we don’t have in L.A. Not that they don’t appreciate us in L.A, they’re great fan’s, but something about not being from Australia. It goes back to 2006 the very first time we came to Australia; we spent a whole month in America, then straight to Europe for a month, straight to Japan for a week and finally ended up in Australia. It was our first official world tour. We were playing in venues were three times the size of the venues we were playing back home in L.A and it was a really warm welcome to a country that none of us had ever even been to before. To be able to play to so many people and so many venues for your first time it was just amazing and it was contagious.
So your coming to Bluesfest are you excited? What have you heard about the festival?
Yeah, I’m really excited, we’ve never played and I’m really excited to see the bands. A few of the bands are somewhat buddies of ours. I’m really excited to see Steve Earle & The Dukes, I’ve heard their playing and I really like him. Unfortunately I don’t really know much about it apart from what I’ve kind of heard down the grapevine but I know it’s going to be good!
To finish it off Matt gave us his best Aussie version of the phrase ‘Too Easy’ and not spilling too much Matt said the band are hard at work on a new album. You can catch Cold War Kids Easter long weekend at Byron Bay Bluesfest. To purchase tickets head to www.bluesfest.com.au.