1. Need You Now Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
Need you now was one of those very immediate, pop moments that came seemingly from nowhere. I was waiting for Ben and Tim to come over to my house one morning to visit and listen to some ideas, and while I was waiting I basically wrote all the melody, chords and lyrics to the song as it appears in the final version. Sometimes you labour over a tiny part of a song for weeks, but in this case the whole thing appeared in a few hours. It has a really easy balance of classic pop, but also trance-like hypnotic dance. When I was first listening back to it I had visions of slow motion dancing, so it's fitting the the video for this song appears in slow motion.
2. Take Me Over Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
Making an album at home can sometimes feel like being forced into solitary confinement, particularly when contrasted with the diversity and breakneck speed of touring in a band. Take me over was the antidote to spending so much time at home. I think I'd started to imagine being somewhere far away; in a jungle, or a tropical island, either really or metaphorically. It really was about a yearning for travel and the inspiration that it brings.
3. Where I'm Going Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
In hindsight I feel a little bit regretful that "Where I'm Going" was leaked before our album release. In the context of our album it makes total sense. It's rhythmically heavy and is probably one of our only excursions away from a tradition 4/4 (or 'dance') beat. It takes the themes of repetition and rhythmic percussion which we explored throughout Zonoscope to a different place. It was less about house and disco and more about glitter-esque glam stomp-rock, tribal chants and 60's psychedelia. I think on it's own before our album release it probably confused people more than it captivated them, but maybe it was interesting to throw people something they didn't expect.
4. Pharaohs & Pyramids Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
Pharaohs & Pyramids is a pop song, but one that really verges towards the hypnotic end of the spectrum. It's equal part's self-hypnosis tape and classic minimal chicago style house. I really wanted it to build slowly so that it felt as though you were being lulled into sleep but 3 minutes later you realize you're dancing in the middle of a crowd of people. We spent much of the record bonding with acoustic percussion, but this track was very much about robotic rhythm. Even the live cowbell we recorded over this was cut up and clipped to give it a more mechanical edge. The vast majority of the track is made up from synth textures I'd developed in my home studio.
5. Blink and You'll Miss a Revolution Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
I think somewhere in my subconscious I've held onto the soundtrack from 'Mysterious Cities of Gold', an animated TV series I watched as a small child. It was set in South America and the soundtrack was an amazing synth-disco version of traditional Andes pan-pipe songs. That's more or less what I think the chorus to 'Blink' sounds like; a futuristic south american folk song. It's also a track where we used an early 1980s synthesizer/sampler called the Fairlight to good effect. We became obsessed with it through making this record. It's something that was only available to the richest musicians when it was released, and now is considered incredibly primitive, but has some amazing synthesized percussion sounds.
6. Strange Nostalgia for the Future Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
This song title references a Brian Eno quote about Krautrock - suggesting a sense that things are at once futuristic and also antique. Like many of our records, when we finish up with recording there's a pile of half-ideas strewn around. This was one of them; originally with full vocals and instrumentation, it made more sense on the record as an interlude. I always liked it on some of my favorite records (eg: DJ Shadow's Endtroducing or Rundgren's A Wizard a True Star) when there are short ideas that tantalize you with thoughts of what the full song might have sounded like. We kept this one short for that exact reason.
7. This Is All We've Got Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
This Is All We've Got was written about the same time as 'Where I'm Going' and I think it occupies a similar space on the record. It's a little less rhythmic and a little more layered and psychedelic. We must have done 50 or so reverb-drenched guitar takes to achieve the end result here. We also used a much different drum sound to any of the other tracks, with the kit recorded in the middle of our warehouse studio space without any dampening whatsoever to get the biggest roundest feel. Even though it's not a dance track, it's written about the aftermath of a big night out, about feeling you get where you come realize the night has come to a close, sometime surrounded by strangers. But sometimes it can give you a naive, objective perspective on the beauty of the sun rising above the city.
8. Alisa Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
We had a lot of fun recording Alisa. It's always fun making a track with distorted guitar noise. Usually when it's time to track, one person would saunter over to their instrument, but for this Tim rushed over to his amplifier like an excited schoolkid. After we'd laid down the main guitar parts tim had the rather genius suggestion of doing the vocals through a guitar pickup rather than an microphone, so the end result is a blend of my voice and also my voice through a guitar as it heads to it's raucous, apocalyptic conclusion.
9. Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
This song was written about how obsessed people seem to be about staying in contact, to the point of losing what it is to be themselves. It really was a very simple song. I remember the chorus was written in one of the earliest demos for Zonoscope but we just couldn't find a verse to sit with it. In the end the verse is pretty much the same as the chorus, we just took out some instruments. It's dead simple, but a classic pop songwriting technique I guess.
10. Corner of the Sky Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
Zonoscope was all about percussion and we spent at least half of the time in our warehouse studio recording percussion. This track probably benefited the most from it. I'd originally recorded dummy drums from the Fairlight CMI, but I wanted to replace them with 'real' tribal drums. We tried recording take after take of individual instruments to build up a big tribal sound, but in the end realized the best way to get that sound was for us all to play percussion at once and record it all together. It was far from perfect, but it was exactly what we were looking for.
11. Sun God Dan Whitford/Cut Copy:
Sun God was probably the height of synthetic percussion on the record and also the most psychedelic dance track we've ever made. In many ways it represents the hypnotic, percussive, trance-like leaning of Zonoscope and also takes them to their further point. Once we've finished the lyrical portiion of the track, I overdubbed various pieces of live recorded material over one loop from the very end of the song and it took on a life of it's own, becoming three times it's original length. It's among my favorite Cut Copy songs now, partly because we didn't care what anyone would think of it. We just wanted it to keep going and going. And somehow it still works.
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