We had the chance to chat with ambient pop group Cigarettes After Sex, who will be performing at Great Scott this Sunday. The band has only released a handful of songs—all wrapped in album art featuring simple black-and-white photography—but have already grabbed the attention of the likes of Noisey and Brooklyn Vegan. We discussed lead vocalist Greg Gonzalez’s favorite guitar solos, influential films, and a special Australian bird.
KB: You’ve talked a lot about your album artwork and how you were aiming for a cohesive feel similar to what The Smiths have done. You’ve been using Man Ray‘s photography for the covers—did you have any trouble getting the rights for using the photos? Do you think you will commission photos from other photographers in the future?
It actually worked out well with the Man Ray Estate & we’re very thankful to be able to work with them in the way we have. We basically just had to license the images to use as artwork on our first two releases… Definitely on the lookout for other photographers whose work seems to fit in with the feeling we’re trying to create though. A German photographer, Resa Rot, actually took the photo that we used for our recent single “K.”
KB: On a similar note, are there any artworks (films, fine art, photographs, etc.) that have influenced your music?
Always too many too list, but as far as films at least I would say “L’Avventura” has a strange, erotic, and deeply romantic feel that I was influenced by in regards to the music. “The Double Life of Veronique” has this autumnal beauty that I also identified with and was particularly influential for the feel and sound of the music we’ve done with “Affection” and our new LP.
KB: You’ve mentioned your favorite bird is the Australian bird, the Superb Lyrebirdwhich, which is capable of mimicking all sorts of sounds. Would you consider working with the bird on a future song? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a band collaborating with a bird before.
Ha it’s interesting to me that this has come up as often as it has, but it really makes me glad. That does sound like a fantastic idea though and I’m curious how that would actually work now. If the bird would imitate the sound of my voice or the band for instance. I’d love to try that somehow…
KB: Please describe your music without using genre names.
Sleazy-sweet hazy romantic ballads.
KB: I noticed some titles are just one letter and one period (the EP I. and the song “K”). Can you tell us anything about why you’ve chosen to style these titles as such? Should we expect other works with a similar styling in the future?
It was actually purely coincidental that it worked out like this. The first EP is actually titled I. like the Roman numeral for one, and the song “K.” is titled this way because the girl it’s about used to write her name abbreviated like that. I could see possibly continuing numbering any EPs we release, but that’s really about it for the moment.
KB: You spoke about how you’ve adopted the approach of recording music around one single microphone. Will you continue to use this method in upcoming releases? Can you tell us more about the recording process and how that affects the sounds you are aiming to capture?
I think we’ll continue with more of the spontaneous approach to the music, as far as it being mostly or totally recorded live, more so than necessarily scaling back the way the music is technically recorded… With this sort of process the locations of the recordings are really crucial. The way a room sounds fully affects the arrangement we devise for a song and also gives the recording its feeling and mood.
KB: In an interview with Third Outing you mentioned a few guitar solos you love. Can you name your top three favorite guitar solos?
Sure. It changes quite a bit so this isn’t quite so set in stone, but at the moment I’d say my favorite guitar solo is “You’re Lost Little Girl” by The Doors and played by Robbie Krieger. First time I heard that it kind of knocked me into another world & still does every time. Second, I’ll say “The Unforgiven” by Metallica, played by Kirk Hammett, which is really just a great sweeping, all encompassing guitar solo. Third, “I Fought The Law” by Bobby Fuller, played by Jim Reese—just always gets me.
KB: Your music is extremely intimate. If your music was a room, how would it be decorated?
Definitely a tough and interesting question. Maybe just a fairly unadorned bedroom with black curtains & white sheets, a record player on the hardwood floor and some books scattered around. A night stand with a single candle burning. Maybe a framed photograph of Harriet Anderson from “My Summer With Monika” [sic] on the wall…