Looking On the Bright Side with Cut Copy

We had a brief catch-up with the Australian band at Spain’s Bilbao BBK fest. 

Eighteen years and five albums into their career, Cut Copy have achieved a level of longevity that many bands never see. While the Australian quartet show no signs of slowing down, they’re more likely to attribute their continued existence to serendipity and stumbling into success than to an impressive work ethic—even though results indicate the band likely has that, as well. 

“We started out as friends,” says frontman Dan Whitford. “Everyone says ‘Don’t go into business with your friends.’ We broke that rule off the bat. It’s probably dumb luck that we started out as friends and we’re still good friends.”

“I think that’s the secret,” adds bassist Benjamin Browning. “You just appreciate the friendships. You always put that in front of your other objectives. That makes it fun and it doesn’t feel like a job. We all live in different cities. Now we get to tour, and you get to catch up with your friends and see the world and escape daily life. Who wouldn’t want that, really? Leave it all behind.” 

Although Whitford jokes that drummer Mitchell Scott has recurring dreams that Whitford is trying to kill him (“Which might be based on truth,” he cracks) those tight bonds are evident—even to an outsider. We’re seated backstage at Bilbao BBK, a Basque Country music festival where Cut Copy will close out the night performing in the same office worker–chic button-down shirts they’re currently lounging in. 

While touring schedules traditionally indicate that a band has a new project near completion or available, Cut Copy opted for this particular swing through Europe simply because it’s been a while. So instead of hitting typical promotional talking points (no need—their love of 1980s production, Chicago house, and indie disco has always been proudly on display), they’re happy to kick back and talk about life. We chat about the joys of traveling with friends (Whitford, a runner, recalls a particularly beautiful jog through the beaches of Rio), what would make up their last meal (pizza—obviously, although pintxos in nearby San Sebastián come a close second), and the hours they’re currently keeping in this part of the world where staying out late is de rigueur (“We didn’t get back to the hotel until five a.m.,” Whitford says with some amazement). 

There is, predictably, more of the band’s spritely synth-pop on the way—even if it’s so early in the process that no one yet knows what it’ll sound like, or what form it’ll take. (“Anywhere from a single to an anthology,” Browning guesses.) Even if the path isn’t completely clear, the members of Cut Copy have learned to find comfort in the middle of creative chaos.  

“Everyone says ‘Don’t go into business with your friends.’ We broke that rule off the bat. It’s probably dumb luck that we started out as friends and we’re still good friends.” — Dan Whitford

“I think even with what we’re doing, there are days when you can’t see the forest for the trees,” says Whitford pragmatically. “That’s just a natural part of creativity. Not every day is going to be spent doing the best thing you’ve ever done. Those shitty days or months are a part of the creative process while finding your way to the endpoint, whatever that is. It’s probably best to not get frustrated by that, or beat yourself up about it. It’s a journey and if it’s not working for you one day, come back the next.” 

This upbeat worldview translates into everything they do. And while both Whitford and Browning confess a certain level of excitement about the idea of eventually returning home—Browning has a coffee machine he particularly enjoys, and despite possessing a marginally green thumb, Whitford just started a garden—right now they’re enjoying life on the road.  

“In the long run, you never think about the shitty days,” says Whitford. “You just think about all the cool stuff that happened. I think it’s true, those are the things that stick out. Not sitting in an airport for seven hours. You played a show that was awesome and hung out in a cool place. Hopefully that’s how you end up remembering the experience.” FL

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