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Q & A: Cold War Kids (Part 1)

By Lynn Lieu on January 4, 2010


Q & A: Cold War Kids (Part 1)

From old apartments above restaurants in downtown Fullerton to opening San Francisco festivals to playing shows on the shores of London, the Cold War Kids have really come up in rags with their wallets full. With an already impressive long list of EPs and two full-length albums behind them, Nathan Willett, Jonnie Russell, Matt Maust and Matt Aveiro are about to add some more notches to their belts. Already available on iTunes and hyped all over the web, the anticipated Behave Yourself EP will be available in stores Jan. 19. Here, Nathan Willett took some time to tell FILTER a little more about the EP:

Cold War Kids really broke out on the web when you first started touring. With Behave Yourself, you’ve really utilized the web to get the word out. What is your take on the Internet, music and downloading?

Nathan Willett: I think the analogy of “it’s all who you know” works really well for it. If your parents are friends with a director and they can get you an impossible audition, that rules. But if you can’t act or aren’t ready, it won’t do much. Amongst bands that broke on the Internet at the same time as us, very few are still paving their way. That being said, the Internet rules! We just got our Twitter page running and are hitting it daily. When I was younger and wanted to know more about bands, there were only music and interviews and artwork. I wanted to know more about their personalities and now bands can expose as much or as little as they want to. David Byrne is a great role model for documenting as much of your life as you can and making it art.

Can you explain a little about the artwork for Behave Yourself and how Maust fits into the creative visual vision of the group?

Maust saw the words “behave yourself” written on a wall of a building in London. It just seemed to make perfect sense for us at the time. He did the design for the cover and I drew the picture of Joan Didion smoking and the sketch of Los Angeles behind her. She is named in the song “Santa Ana Winds” and her writing inspired [our] writing about LA traffic, individualism, love of celebrity, corruption, fires, etc. Maust is everything behind the creative vision of the group. His visual and the music and the lyrics are all one piece.

Where did the quote (“They kept hanging around, started trouble, made friends, and insisted they be heard”) about the tracks come from? Were your other tracks as demanding?

That’s the simpliest explanation I could think of to describe our relationship to these songs. We initially wanted to just do a 10-inch vinyl and sell the records at shows, but we realized these songs are really important to us and need to be heard on a wider scale. We wanted something to shove off from the last record: [Loyalty to Loyalty] was darker; we were in a place where we weren’t sure about the vision of the band and we weren’t communicating well. Behave Yourself is where we are now.

Come back tomorrow as Willett clues us in on what’s in store for the Cold War Kids in 2010.



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