One of the reasons why I like Cut Ribbons is the impeccable male and female vocal harmonies. Lead vocalists Aled Rees and Anna Griffiths make their special brand of power pop sound so entirely seamless and impossibly effortless. Often, it's difficult to distinguish where one voice ends and the other begins. Then, the guitars come thundering in, riding a knotty wave of rhythm, and pulling back, in a moment of breathless restraint, just as the sound almost careers into some thick post-grunge noise. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you, it's what makes their song, White Horses so infectious. And then I'd be remiss if I didn't mention their crisp production values, which seem to get better and more balanced with each new offering.
I spoke with Aled this week about flying kites, change, White Russians, and his native tongue. Of course we also talked music. Yes, there is some new music on the horizon, quite possibly more than anyone expected. And I get the distinct impression, based on some smiling Instagram photos that they just might be a tiny bit fun to party with. Maybe. However, don't blame me if you wake up with a tequila hangover wearing lipstick applied with a mop and find your nails painted fuschia.
Here's what Aled had to say.
What are Cut Ribbons up to this summer?
This Summer we will be locked in our studio writing lots of new music. We have a new E.P. that will be coming out in September, plus our album should be out very early next year. Obviously we will be venturing outdoors to play some festivals too, that is a given.
With In the Rain, I felt the band's sound changed -- not in a bad way though, it's bigger, more ambitious, & more balanced. Can you tell us how it all came together, and what kind of feedback you've received?
We feel our sound changed too. Where in the past have been quite conscious of trying to maintain a sound that we have been developing over the years, In the Rain taught us that as long as it is us writing, then it will always sound like Cut Ribbons. That has opened up a new world in terms of ambition within the process. We have wanted our sound to develop into an almost cinematic experience -- there is a concept and narrative, but is washed in ambiance. So that has really been our belief on the new tracks we are writing. The feedback has been overwhelming, each review has been so positive, but not only that, each has commented on the shift in sound being a step forward for us. That's really nice.
What can you tell us about the studio time earlier this year? More tracks coming?
There are lots of new tracks coming. We recorded in Belfast which was a great experience. The studio sessions at the start of the year will make up the newest E.P., and the tracks we are currently writing will go towards the album.
How does the band approach the songwriting process? Is it a collaborative effort?
What usually happens is that I will write on my own at first and get the core of the song written, the basic structure on guitar or piano, then melodies and lyrics. Then we all descend on the ideas and everyone has a say in the way the song will be presented. Recently though, having access to our own studio has made things a lot easier. If we aren't in rehearsal then we will be in the studio working on the new songs. And being able to listen to the tracks without having to play your respective parts gives you a better understanding to where it is going.
Outside of the band, does any band member have any other creative outlets? Do any of those outlets influence the music?
I think we would all like to have other things going on in the periphery, but we are so immersed with what is going on with the band at the moment, finding time to do anything else is difficult. It is certainly something that we will do, getting involved in other projects as a side-line, but for the foreseeable future, Cut Ribbons will have our undivided attention.
Memorial Parts 1 and 2 are stunning, what was the inspiration behind the song(s)?
Ok, trying not to sound too contrived, it's actually from a dream I had about flying kites. I am aware of how that sounds... As the song was talking form, I didn't think that it had fully explained itself, so that became Part Two. I then went back to write Part One as a prequel to help explain what is going on. The two parts were always meant to feel very different from one another, yet still having some commonality, to try and demonstrate this light and shade that we try to include in our music.
Is their a Welsh song somewhere in the band's future?
Funnily enough, I'm writing one at the moment. It's something that I have previously said I wouldn't do as only Caio and myself are fluent speakers, but as everyone else has an understanding, then I think it's OK. So hopefully we will be releasing something in our native tongue, maybe as a double A-side sometime in the future.
I see photos of the band really having fun at festivals and shows. Who in the band is a alcohol lightweight and taps out early in the evening?
Yes, we do like a bit of a drink, you know, a sherry at Christmas or whatever. Seriously though, I don't think anyone shies away from a drink when we are on the road. We have recently been drinking a lot of White Russians which just makes you really merry due to, I think, the milk lining your stomach. Also, milk is supposed to be quite bad for singers before they perform, but speaking from experience, that is a load of bollocks. We can all keep up.
Cut Ribbons are:
Aled Rees - Vocals / Guitar
Anna Griffiths - Vocals
Christian James - Guitar
Shane Lee - Bass
Caio Griffiths - Drums
They'll be performing at the Tramlines Festival in Sheffield, Friday July 24th.
For more information on the band: