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Interview: Silk Cut Speak Out About New Album 'Our Place In The Stars'

Interview: Silk Cut Speak Out About New Album 'Our Place In The Stars'

Chris Cudby / Tuesday 21st February, 2023 10:33AM

Fuelled by a love for '60s and '70s British television shows and early '90s shoegaze, Tāmaki Makaurau's Andrew Thorne recently embarked on a new sonic adventure with Silk Cut, joined for the ride by bandmates Aidan Phillips, Jayden Lee and Justin McLean. Helmsman and key member of Thorn, Splitter, and Calico Brothers, Thorne's illustrious musical career has seen him work alongside such Aotearoa icons as Bic Runga, Dave Dobbyn, and Tim Finn. Silk Cut have now unveiled their debut album Our Place in the Stars, swiftly following two EP releases — panda (2022) and astronaut (2021) — launched ahead of their first ever live outings as a group at Thirsty Dog and Hamilton's Nivara Lounge. Thorne kindly answered my probing questions about the band's majestic new record praised as "arresting" by The Listener's Graham Reid, their fascination with classic UK police crime drama The Sweeney (whose theme tune is covered on the album) and more. Don't miss Silk Cut this week and read our chat below...

Silk Cut
Thursday 23rd February - Nivara Lounge, Hamilton w/ DateMonthYear
Friday 24th February - The Thirsty Dog, Auckland

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Chris Cudby: Kia ora Andrew — congratulations on the release of Our Place in the Stars! Two EP's and now a debut album in less than two years. Do you maintain a disciplined songwriting schedule that's responsible for this incredible prolificness? How long has Our Place in the Stars been in the works for?

Andrew Thorne: Hi Chris, why thank you. This is the first time I’ve ever been accused of being disciplined. I’m possibly one of the laziest people you could meet combined with a healthy dose of ADD. I guess that means I don’t write regularly, but when I do, the basic ideas have to be done quickly or I get bored.

I can get hyper focussed on the production, parts and sounds within the music and spend hours tinkering but the shell of the song has to grab me immediately or I’ll go and take a nap.

The tunes for Our Place in the Stars were written over 3 months and developed in the box with fairly extensive demos so we knew what we were going to do once we got in the studio and just spend more time on getting great sounds and tones.

Listening to Our Place in the Stars reminds me of a halcyon era when shoegaze distortion and psychedelic guitar pop sounds co-existed together on the airwaves, plus there's an accomplished feeling of "rock classicism" to the record as a whole. Your own career in music has been extensive and diverse — including your groups Splitter, Calico Brothers, Thorn, and work with Bic Runga, Dave Dobbyn, Tim Finn, and more — were there any specific musical touchstones you were thinking about / drawing upon when writing and producing the new record?

I love a concise, ‘don’t bore us, get to the chorus’ pop song as much as anyone. In a lot of ways those are the hardest songs to write. However for Silk Cut we’ve opened the medicine cabinet and tried to explore longer songs with more floaty textures and dare I say psychedelic influences. The mid 80’s to early nineties for me was when I was starting to get my head around the electric guitar. So the pop of the time like Tears For Fears, Pretenders,The Smiths, REM, XTC and especially Chris Sheehan era Dance Exponents were all sinking in, then drawing me to noisier bands like The Church, Ride, Swervedriver. Over lockdown I got on a real David Gilmour kick as well. My ham-fisted approximation has definitely made its way into proceedings.

I’ve never met a gated reverb snare I didn’t like so there’s fairly massive drums on the album too. You can take the boy out of the 80’s …

The lyrics feel to me often fairly landscape focused — both psychic and physical, encompassing wide spaces or periods of time — complementing the shoegazy textures and lush tones. Are there any specific lyrical themes threading through Our Place in the Stars?

Lyrics are a weird thing, often I’m just looking for something that rhymes. I don’t like to unpick them too much, that’s best left to the individual listeners own interpretation. One song though ‘Try and Find a Time We Belong’ is certainly more personal and about my mother and her cognitive state as we all get older. ‘A Very Special Life’ is a fairly obvious snapshot of the entitlement, narcissism and screen obsession many of us find ourselves battling.

What prompted you to cover the theme music (and end credit reprise) for '70s UK police drama television show The Sweeney?

I was never allowed to watch The Sweeney growing up and it was bed time whenever it came on. I could hear the TV from my room and remember the end credit theme always made me feel sad. All those minor chords seeping into my developing, drowsing brain.

We were looking to do a surf noir version of something, I love that reverb tank clean guitar tone. Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) has a surf band called the Blue Stingrays that do a great version of the theme from Goldfinger. Aidan (Phillips, bass player) loves 70's British cop shows and suggested The Sweeney so we stuck the two themes together and had it done in no time.

How much of Silk Cut is a collaborative affair? What role does each member play in the group?

The recording of Our Place in the Stars was fairly regimented, as mentioned, with the demos Aidan and I worked on being very close to the final push. Live however, everyone gets to stretch out and things are taking on a really nice bent. Justin McLean (The Roulettes) is now on board and co-wrote ‘I Remember the Winter’. His guitar style is quite different to mine and he gets a great wild, wash of noise happening when required. Aidan and Jayden (Lee, drums) have created a formidable rhythm section. We’re all really excited about the possibilities.

Do Silk Cut get to rehearse / perform together often?

These shows will be our first outing as a band, we’ll be doing a couple ‘o’ tunes from the previous EPs but will concentrate mainly on the new album. We’d love to play more shows and will see who’ll have us. Weddings, parties, christenings … will play for beer and a sausage roll.

Gazing into the crystal ball — what does the future hold for Silk Cut?

As I mentioned I’m loving working with this bunch of dudes and their individual prowess on their chosen instruments. I’m keen to keep writing and co-writing. To work with Justin on the ancient art of guitar weaving and come up with some cross stitching of our own. Songs that possibly explore a heavier sound without having to raise the goat horns and “rawk”. I do love a good two or three part vocal harmony too so there’s room for that.

Possibly the most radio friendly (whatever the f*ck that means ?!) song on the album is ‘I Remember the Winter’ so it’d be great to do more shows mid year, hopefully further afield on a “I Remember the Winter, Winter Tour”. Thanks for listening…


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Silk Cut w/ DateMonthYear
Thu 23rd Feb 8:30pm
Nivara Lounge, Hamilton
Silk Cut
Fri 24th Feb 8:30pm
The Thirsty Dog, Auckland