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Cold War Kids - The Kids Are Alright

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Monday, September 29, 2008

They had one of last year’s biggest hits in Hang Me Up To Dry and now Cold War Kids are back to prove they’re no one trick pony. 3D’s Carlisle Rogers spoke to the band about their second record.

In an alternate universe, Radiohead releases an album that sounds like The Bends crossed with Sympathy for the Recording Industry, but reads like OK Computer.  In this universe, they are called Cold War Kids, and they have a new album, Loyalty to Loyalty.

In a universe of infinite possibility, anything that can happen will happen. Thus, I present to you the Cold War kids and their second album, informed by all the right things and deformed by just the right amount of feedback.

On the Downtown label, alongside strange bedfellows Gnarls Barkley, Art Brut, Justice, Santogold and Spank Rock, vocalist Nathan Willet says the band found a synergy with the label that nobody else was offering. “They approached us and we were in a fortunate position because we could have our pick of so many different labels,” he says. “We got to talk to so many different people and decide what we were wanting from it all. They had a really different approach to the whole thing. Their style was not super aggressive and they weren’t trying to woo us as much as other labels. They were much more interested in letting us do whatever we wanted. The biggest issue was the artistic freedom and knowing that we could do what we want, and at the same time be on a label that has a lot of resources sold it.

“There were labels like Sub Pop and XL that made us feel like we would be just another band on the label. We saw that happen to one of our friends’ bands who is on one of those labels. And while those labels are great and really cool, our friends’ records didn’t really see much action.”

The album draws its name from a 19th Century philosopher, Nathan says, named Josiah Royce. “He was Californian and wrote in response to Nietzsche’s idea that mankind’s ultimate pursuit was to rise above the ashes of the common man and to be their most fierce individual possible. Royce wanted to combat that and say well if everybody is rising above the masses, then we won’t have any community and we won’t have any tribes where we take care of each other. I thought that idea, loyalty to loyalty, was an interesting and relevant to our time right now. The struggle between those two ways of thinking was a way of summing up the record.

“Loyalty, the word, seems almost archaic in relationships, friendships and marriages and the idea of being loyal to people outside of business is really strange. How people view loyalty is a really strange thing. People have never been less loyal to each other because most of us come from a divorced family and I think that affects our minds in terms of what we’ll commit to and why stay loyal. I think we have a whole generation of people like us who need to rethink why we are loyal to anything.”

Recorded as live as possible in the studio, Loyalty to Loyalty has that special something that comes with live shows, when the band is peaking on each others’ playing. “Several of the songs on the record are literally drum, bass, guitar, piano and vocal and have all been recorded live at the same time which is rare, especially recording vocals with instruments in the room. That’s a real hassle, but something that we always try to do. The way the record has come out is a lot like us live. We are a lot rougher and looser live and we move around and yell a lot, push each other and all that stuff, but it’s close.”

WHO: Cold War Kids
WHAT: Loyalty to Loyalty through V2 / Shock
WHEN: Out now