INTERVIEW: Ex Cops
When New York’s Other Music record shop buddied up with Fat Possum Records and started their own label (Other Music Recording Co), they couldn’t have made a better decision picking up EX COPS as their first ever signing.
Setting out as buddies who’d spend time recording demos as nothing more than a bedroom project, Brian Harding (former member of Hymns) and Amalie Bruun (former member of Minks) realised they wanted to do something with the psychedelic-pop music they were creating. The Brooklyn based duo self-released an EP in a compact disc format that conjured a combustion of sweet, lo-fi haze coupled with delightful harmonies.
These bedroom recordings were clearly respected by the Other Music’s fresh label, as 2012 saw the duo release their first 7″ single that featured two of the EP’s tracks; ‘You Are A Lion, I Am A Lamb’ and ‘The Millionaire’. After playing more and more shows, as well as constantly writing songs, Ex Cops have very recently released their debut, full length album True Hallucinations.
Since expanding the band with the addition of three extra members, as well as releasing the LP, Ex Cops are finally set to headline the US as they tour throughout February, right up until May! Before they get to it, I had a chat with co-founding member, Brian Harding, to see what’s been happening since the band started back in 2011.
Considering both Harding and Bruun were both committed to other bands when they initially met, I was curious to know how they Ex Cops became their union.
“I met Amalie at a show like three or four years ago. I went and saw her play a solo show and I really liked her playing, and her voice, so we started a duo and recorded some demos in my apartment. And from then, a fun kinda project became a thing where I was like, “Okay well maybe we can try and make a record out of this.”
As mentioned, Ex Cops grew from a duo into a quintet, as friends of the band Kai Kennedy, Leif Young Huckman and Sam Bair joined the crew. With three extra sets of hands on deck, has the process of recording fastened? Are things easier to handle now? I asked Harding how the transition has been for Ex Cops.
“Yeah, I mean the two piece was good cause it was just us, but the five piece is cool because they’re all friends. It’s not just some session guys we hired, it’s really awesome musicians who I’ve known forever and it’s actually faster because we’re all kinda on the same page.”
John Siket is a producer who’s worked with many influential bands release very important albums, such as Sonic Youth‘s Dirty in 1992 and You Am I‘s Hi Fi Way in 1996. When Ex Cops weren’t recording at home, they were with Siket in the studio working on True Hallucinations. I asked Harding what it was like working with such a credited producer.
“It was great, John’s this popular producer that we worked with, but the rest was just in my room – just a couple of demos. But John is awesome, he’s a good friend of my manager’s. His work that I’ve been admiring since high school has been with Yo La Tengo and Blonde Redhead. He’s a very open person but also firm, which we really needed, so it was great.”
True Hallucinations really is full of versatility. From the soft psychedelia that evokes from the album’s introductory track ‘S&HSXX’ sounding like something close to a Flaming Lips tune, to the lo-fi vocals and persistent fuzzy synths that the slow jam ‘The Millionaire’ exhibits, it’s clear that mood really affects the whole songwriting process.
“Yeah I think that it’s the only part that affects the songwriting. I dunno, I think we’re all pretty scattered range, and I am too especially. One of my favourite albums ever is The White Album by The Beatles, so I kind of have a short attention span which is pretty much what we get criticised for all the time, but I don’t care.”
Considering the abundance of style the album owns, what track resonates with Harding the most?
“I really like ‘Separator’ a lot.”
Not overly long ago, we ran an article on a Paul McCartney jingle that Ex Cops covered for Christmas (you can check that out HERE). How did this come to be?
“That song, we’ve always really been obsessed with. When they asked us to play a Christmas song, I couldn’t even think of anything else really, we had to do this song. Once we actually found that sound on the keyboard we like totally freaked out, we were like, “yes, we have to do this song”.”
With a US tour taking up Ex Cops’ schedules for the next few months, is there a particular place that the band are most excited to visit?
“Yeah, I mean we’re just in the States. So I guess just for a complete 180 route, we’re excited to look at LA.”
So what about pre-gig rituals? Is there some sort of special Ex Cops warm up that takes place minutes before gracing a stage?
“Oh gosh, what do we do. We’re so boring! [laughs]”
Instead of some massive psych fest, you’ll find Ex Cops “checking emails”. Hey, there’s no problem with that! It’s much more cost effective than throwing television sets outside of windows, right?
My next question for Harding was as hard as it was free. If he could choose absolutely anybody in the world to play a show with – anybody being dead or alive – who would he choose?
“Oh my God that’s a good question, um.. Alive right now, we’d probably have to tour with The Strokes, that would be really cool. But um, dead.. Maybe John Lennon when he was solo.”
“You guys are big Beatles fans hey”
“Yeah, massive [laughs]”
As they go off to play around their home country, can us Australians expect a tour any time soon?
“Yeah, I mean it’s not on paper but it’s for sure being discussed. We’ve just been kind of shocked about the reception we’ve gained in Australia, and we’ve never been to Australia, so we’re just super excited to check it out.”
Just because they released their debut only weeks ago, doesn’t mean that the band aren’t currently hard at work. According to Harding, here’s what is lined up for the band for the rest of 2013.
“I think we’re just touring a lot and I think we’ll probably be doing some festivals. And I want to start some demos for the second album, as soon as possible.”
Words by Hannah Galvin.