American band Cigarettes After Sex say stairwells are great for music recording

Cigarettes After Sex comprise (from left) Jacob Tomsky, Phillip Tubbs, Greg Gonzalez and Randy Miller.
Cigarettes After Sex comprise (from left) Jacob Tomsky, Phillip Tubbs, Greg Gonzalez and Randy Miller.PHOTO: SECRET SOUNDS ASIA

Do not be alarmed if you see the members of American band Cigarettes After Sex lurking around stairwells - they are probably scouting for good music recording locations.

The Brooklyn-based band, famed for the intimate-sounding, reverb- laden ambient pop sounds in their tender tunes, recorded various songs in a stairwell at University of Texas, where singer-songwriter Greg Gonzalez studied, as well as in a movie theatre where he used to work.

Doing experiments at such unusual recording venues is the key to get their trademark "dreamy, reverb" sound inspired by music from the past, says Gonzalez in a recent telephone interview from Switzerland, where the band were on tour.

"It's very much like the 1950s, 1960s idea where you have this genuine depth of space, like in the early records by The Drifters or doo- wop groups like The Flamingos. We wanted to get the really huge sounding sound of 1950s pop records."

The band will play their first Singapore show at the Capitol Theatre tomorrow, a concert that is part of their current global tour. The show is sold out.

Buoyed by years of online buzz and viral YouTube music videos, Cigarettes After Sex's self-titled album, which was released in June, has been hailed as one of the most highly anticipated indie releases of the year.

British music magazine Mojo describes the songs as having an "intoxicating atmosphere" that "lingers long after the tracks have played out", while American music website Pitchfork praises Gonzalez's "stark lyrics and clever composition".

Formed in 2008, Cigarettes After Sex released their self-titled debut EP in 2012.

While the band also comprise keyboardist Phillip Tubbs, bassist Randy Miller and drummer Jacob Tomsky, all their songs are written by Gonzalez.

His lyrics are based on past relationships and real people, he says, but he remains tight-lipped on their identities. "Only the person I'm writing about will know the references in the songs."

While the band have toured several times before, their increasing popularity has led to their current tour being their biggest to date, with global shows in cities ranging from Bangkok to Moscow.

"It's been great since everyone likes it so much," he says of the reception to their debut album. "It's what you wish for, that it moves people and reaches them in the best way possible, so it's been a dream to have everyone excited about the record."

Gonzalez is chuffed that audiences from different parts of the world are singing along to their songs at shows.

"It's a bit insane," he says of the touring experience. "We're never in the same place for long. It's a like a long adventure, but the experience is worth it."

Fans who managed to score tickets to tomorrow's show will witness a live performance that stays true to their records' intimate sounds, says Gonzalez.

"What we try to do is keep things pure. If you're a fan and you like the record, the show is pretty much the same. We keep it very pure, very simple, very much what was beautiful about the music, but you get it live."

•Tickets to Cigarettes After Sex at the Capitol Theatre tomorrow are sold out.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline 'Dreamy sound from recording in a stairwell'. Print Edition | Subscribe