Dark pop pair Cults are one of the hottest acts around (we saw them last night in London so can confirm this first-hand). They’re also boyfriend and girlfriend. And, yes, they do make sweet music together.
"I can see hair,” says Cults’ publicist, as two dark heads bob past the window of a north London café. It’s a statement that also sums up how the world was alerted to the duo from San Diego, California.
In 2010, a strangely sunny-yet-eerie pop song called “Go Outside” started doing the blog rounds. This was later accompanied by a mysterious picture of a dancing girl and guitar-playing guy whose faces were obscured by their long brown locks.
“It wasn’t about cooking up an air of mystery,” says the girl, singer Madeline Follin, 22, shaking the rain from her jacket. “When we put the songs up on the internet it was just for our friends. There was no point being like, ‘Hey, Dad, here’s my bio.’”
“There was some kind of logic to people hearing the songs and not having any associations,” says the guy, Brian Oblivion, also 22 (novelty fact: his stage name comes from the character of Brian O’Blivion in David Cronenberg’s film Videodrome, though he dropped the apostrophe because it was “too cheesy”).
Despite the scary hair and sinister name, in person the pair — both former film students — are smiley and self-deprecating. As when describing how they met: at a gig by Follin’s brother’s band, Willowz. Oblivion was working as the band’s tour manager at the time.
“To call it tour managing would be very generous…” concedes Oblivion.
“He’s lying about that,” corrects Follin, drily. “He just wanted a free ride.”
“Yeah, I was like, ‘I’ll drive you guys around and do merch!’ But most nights I just ended up getting drunk and wandering around cities.”
They became a couple, Follin reveals, from the day that they met, and were forced to go public with their relationship when Oblivion got into a row with her brother.
“I was like, ‘Fuck you! I’m dating your sister!’” Oblivion says, before immediately clarifying: “But now it’s all good.”
Does being an item help or hinder their work? Do they argue creatively? “We argue incessantly,” says Oblivion. But it can be a good thing.
“One of the songs I wrote, which didn’t make the record, had these crazy breakbeats,” he says.
“I actually had to say to him, ‘Good Lord, this is awful,’” adds Follin.
“I get carried away,” Oblivion admits, “but Madeline acts like the voice of reason. She brings it back together.”
Cults are currently playing UK dates, (cults.bandcamp.com)