Saturday, March 29, 2014

Music Weird interviews Andrew Churchman of CUFFS and Pants Yell!

CUFFS is the current band of Andrew Churchman, the former singer, songwriter, and guitarist of Pants Yell! 

Pants Yell! was an intensely loved indiepop band—especially by me!—and I went on about them at some length a couple of months ago.

A lot of fans were heartbroken when the band broke up, but CUFFS is a clear continuation of Pants Yell! in many ways. CUFFS tends to rock harder and louder, but three of the four members played in Pants Yell! at various times, and Churchman's songwriting sensibility remains the same.

CUFFS debuted in 2010 with a free three-song EP, 4-Track Demos, and has released two singles since then: "Privilege," which can be heard in the video above, and "Private View." 

Music Weird talked to Andrew on March 28, 2014:

Where did the name CUFFS come from, and what's up with the capital letters?

I wanted to have a one-word band name, and I liked the way the name looked when written down. It has a nice composition, particularly when capitalized. 

CUFFS' debut album is almost finished? 

If we assume it will be a 10-song record, then we are 60% finished. We recorded and mixed six songs during a quick burst of inspiration, but it has been over a year since we were in the studio. I have been too picky about the last batch of songs, but it is my New Year's Resolution to finish the record. I have nine more months to get my act together! None of the songs from our two 7-inches will reappear on the album.

What's the collaboration like in CUFFS?

For CUFFS, the songs still begin with me writing, demoing, and arranging the songs on my own before bringing them to the band. From there, it sometimes stays close to what I created by myself, and sometimes it evolves with the band's input. It just depends on how attached I am to my original arrangement. I very much enjoy the happy accidents and inspirations that come when other people interpret my songs, and—overall—it is an easy and fun process to share songwriting duties with bandmates.

Can you talk about the other guys in the band and what they bring? 

Casey Keenan plays drums. He was the drummer of Pants Yell! and also plays in Major Stars and has toured in the Six Organs of Admittance band. That's where our avant-rock inspiration comes from. [Guitarist] Martin Pavlinic is our Nels Cline. He fronts the band Reports and also played bass with Pants Yell! for a few shows in California. Joe Mahoney plays bass and is the most talented musician out of the bunch.

You were really active with Pants Yell!, it seemed. Are you working CUFFS as hard?

No, it's the opposite—I have been taking it very easy with CUFFS. I just don't have the energy to keep up. I'm getting old and jaded, but, of course, I still love writing and playing music, just not playing the game.

As you know, I was a huge Pants Yell! fan. Pants Yell! was one of a few bands, like the Go-Betweens, that I just really fixated on, and I know I wasn't alone in that. What's it like having people get so strongly attached to your music?

It's very flattering and humbling. I love rock music and can relate to that significant connection a person can have with a band. I hope fans of Pants Yell! will also enjoy CUFFS. 

You told "I didn't want to do Pants Yell! again. In the back of my mind now, if a song is too poppy, I'm like, 'Guys, we've got to fuck it up somehow.'" That's the most horrifying thing I've ever read. What's too poppy?

You know, it really depends on what day of the week you ask me. Sometimes I'm in a pop mood and other times, not so much. It is pretty hard for me to stray from the melodic side of things, so I don't really see myself being able to go out on too far of a limb.

What are your hopes for CUFFS? Are they different from what you wanted for Pants Yell? 

Yes. Pants Yell was my first real band and I was young and motivated and we gave it as much as we could at the time. With CUFFS I just want to write songs and play music with my friends and release music in a low-pressure way. I wouldn't be surprised if the CUFFS full length takes the form of a free download on Bandcamp.

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