Artist Spotlight: The Cut-Outs

Indie rock band The Cut-Outs played a free show at St. Francis joint Redbar Thursday night, drawing a solid crowd of fans and friends. They played two sets.

The Cut-Outs consist of vocalist/guitarist Joel Van Gorder, bassist Tim Kowalski, drummer Robio Weber, and keyboardist Eric Abshagen. Formed in 2003 with a seven-year hiatus after 2006, the long-running band incorporates elements of post-punk, shoegaze, and garage pop into their eclectic rock flavor. The boys speak on how Milwaukee’s music scene is different then from now.

“I liked it a little better back then since there were bands I looked up to like Hey Mercedes and The Promise Ring and Alligator Gun,” Abshagen said. “Now it’s more electronic music, but there are bands like Flat Teeth and Future Plans that I’m really starting to get into.”

“We draw between an indie rock-garage rock-post-punk-shoegaze kind of sound,” Weber said. “We don’t really have a genre. I like the DIY scene and what a lot of the younger people are doing…Matt Glassel and Bucko Crooks are doing a lot of cool stuff. I’d love to work with a lot of these newer people.”

“I feel this is the best era of our band,” Van Gorder said. “It’s been best when we’ve just stopped caring about all that scene stuff. We’re just doing our own thing now and we’re working on how we can make the band the best it can be.”

The group just dropped a new single, “Home Sweet Hawaii,” from their forthcoming five-song EP.

“The lyrics sometimes mean a lot…sometimes they don’t,” Van Gorder said. “The lyrics here don’t have a whole lot of meaning. We came up with the name before we had lyrics…it had a warm, almost kind of surf-y vibe to it. And it was really cold outside when we wrote it. It definitely stands out on the record. We’ve been playing the songs for a little while now but one of them, “Modern Century,” is brand new. I’d say it’s our best collection of songs. We’ve done a lot of EPs, but I think from front to back, it’s our strongest set recorded.”

“We practiced that song maybe four or five times before we recorded it,” Abshagen added. “It just popped right away.”

“We recorded it with Shane Hochstetler,” Weber explained. “As a drummer, I look up to him – he’s kind of a mentor for me. He really helped with finding the sound I need.”

“This EP is a lot more of us having fun,” Kowalski said. “A lot of these songs came pretty organic. We get together and Rob will lay a drum beat, I’ll come up with a bass line, and then Joel throws in some awesome guitar, and Eric’s always got the cool keyboard to top it off. It’s one of those things where it just happens.”

The Cut-Outs play Anodyne March 21st and Linneman’s April 10th. One may still find a flyer from their old lineup in the ladies’ room at Circle A.

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