Cut Off Your Hands at The Delancey, NY

Since we first caught New Zealand’s Cut off Your Hands at a NYC CMJ showcase two years ago, around the time their Shaky Hands EP had just landed, it seems apropos that they’ve not only become one of our favorite festival acts, but one of our favorite international bands, as well as one of the thousands of standout acts we’ll catch again at Austin’s SXSW 2009 this week.  We recently caught up via email with Nick Johnston, COYH’s whirling dervish of a singer, during the release week of their debut album, You and I.

Did you move to London recently?  How are you loving it?

We moved to London a year and a half ago, and have moved out already, as we are mostly in the States this year  we had a place in Homerton, Hackney. It was cheap and rough and we got mugged and our girls constantly harrassed, people tried to bash down our front door while we were all home one night. The only thing i miss about London is my friends I made there.

You have played CMJ in NYC a couple of years in a row and now will be playing SXSW again this month. When you first started out as a band, did you ever think you’d be “conquering” America even before your first full-length came out?

It is nice to be kept busy, and that’s the main thing on our mind in terms of coming to the States/UK etc. You can only tour for a week in NZ, then you run out of towns/cities… I never expected my music to get me through Europe, Iceland, Japan…. in that regard, it’s fun.

The new album has an amazing variety of sounds, from punk to 50′s doo-wop.  Was it exciting/challenging to find ways to work in some different influences you’ve always had, without coming out sounding like a completely different band?

Yeah, we have always placed  a strong emphasis on the pop elements of our songs, so picking up bits and pieces from doo wop, or Spector-esque production, was a natural step for us. This record is a melting point of a lot of our influences, from Buzzcocks-esque speed pop, and Smithsy guitar lines, to Roy Orbison ballads. It was us finding our feet, and I think now we’re able to create a much more mature record, in that we’ve found our sound, and are looking forward to recording that asap.

Were you a big fan of Suede (like I was)?  How was it working on the album with Bernard Butler as producer?

We were all pretty in awe of Bernard, and the songs recorded with him are my favorite. Im a huge fan of his guitaring, so worked close with him in the guitars on this record. He’s a great producer with an excellent ear for music.–MVW/photo by Tear-n Tan

Cut Off Your Hands at SXSW 2009

WEDNESDAY, March 18th

3:30PM – Spaceland Party at Maggie Mae’s (323 E 6th St)
8PM – Rock Band Showcase at Vice (302 E 6th St)

THURSDAY, March 19th

4PM – NASA Party at Birds Barbershop (2110 S Lamar Blvd)
11PM – Frenchkiss Showcase at Emo’s (603 Red River St)
FRIDAY, March 20th

12:30PM – Spin Party at Stubb’s BBQ (801 Red River St)
3PM – The Onion Party at Radio Room (508 E 6th St)
6PM – NZ BBQ at Brush Square Park (West Tent)
10PM – NME Showcase at Aces Lounge (222 E 6th St)

SATURDAY, March 21st

1:30PM – Mess With Texas at Waterloo Park (403 E 15th St)
4:30PM – RollingStone.com Party at Peckerheads