Interviews

Prolific psych garage rocker CUP upgrades his hazy mantra to an ascendant new level

CUP - Tym Wojcik
We new artists all the time! There is no shortage of creative artists, but when you meet really enthusiastic, and communicative artists who want to expand their creative abilities and expand their independent crafts, that is what makes us super excited! Tim Wójcik and his psychedelic project CUP is exactly that: highly productive experimentalist who embraced abstraction and is getting better and better in his weirdish rockin’, which brings a unique celebration of the repetitive patterns, textures, and catchy hooks drawn from a variety of styles, from infectious riffs of straight up punk rock, through a fever dream of fuzzy riffs , to multi-dimensional abstracts of odd rock. Oh, and this Hiccup certainly hasn’t made him speechless. We sat down with him to learn more about his eerie art, compare Brooklyn to Queens, discuss his evolution as an artist, and pass another checkpoint in our active relationship dating back to October last year and our first interview for IDIOTEQ.

Hiccup” by Tim Wójcik’s CUP is out now via Aagoo Records.

Hey Tym! Good to have you back in our pages. How are you? How’s Queens?

Czesc Karol, glad to be back! I’m doing well. Queens is fantastic, man. Cheap, nice, quiet, green. Very happy with the move from our old dingy place in Brooklyn.

Alt scene wise, how’s the new neighbourhood?

Definitely way different. I mean, I never really lived in the happening part of Brooklyn–always sort of off the beaten path, which makes playing in a band way more inconvenient. But the old Brooklyn hood was way more plugged into the alt music scene than my new neighborhood. The only live music I’ve seen so far were two Irish fellows, one with a guitar, one with a mandolin, playing old Irish songs and covers, like for example Wagon Wheel, at a bar. But hey, they were pretty damn good at what they were doing.

Is that why you took your newest record Hiccup for a record release show back in your old stomping ground? How was the show? Tell us a bit about the bands you shared the stage with.

Yeah, man! The release show was at this great new-ish venue called Cape House in Bushwick, very cool spot with very good sound. The show was amazing, the room totally packed out! We played with Sic Tic, who were just incredible, Monograms who ripped, and the always amazing Pink Mexico. All killer, no filler. My ears were already ripped to shreds by the time we played.

How do you go about your live setting? Are there more musicians backing you up at live shows?

The live iteration of CUP is now a four-piece. Alex Casella plays drums (Eric Casella of QUEEN GIZA‘s little brother), Freddie Wyss plays bass (who plays guitar in WAG, a band I drum in), Chad Sardashti plays synth (a friend from college who just recently moved to NY), and I still front it, singing and playing guitar as best as I can. Though I’ve been playing for a little while now, so I think I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with both haha.

CUP by monsterfurniturebk

Photo by Gabe Smoller

What feedback did you receive regarding the new tunes?

People seemed to dig them! Maybe they’re slightly more mature than the early stuff, when I’d just yell “I AM A CUP” over and over again? But I think the new stuff still has the same wild, loud, but simple vibe. A lot of folks seem to like Apparition a lot.

Of, for sure! And the video is neat, too! Who’s Sean McAnulty, how did you team up with him, and what can you tell us about its concept?

Sean McAnulty is an Australian guy who has made claymation/stop-motion videos for PIPE-EYE and THE MURLOCS, which are twoi KING GIZZARD and THE LIZARD WIZARD shoot-off bands, and also for AUMUTEANTS, this awesome Australian synth-punk band. I love all those videos and claymation in general–I grew up watching Wallace and Gromit and Pingu, so I love the concept of a more creepy and sinister claymation vid. I reached out to Sean via email, he dug the tunes, and the rest is history! I told him that the lyrics were about anxiety in general, something that I deal with on a daily basis, and he took it from there and created this narrative of a main character whose anxieties manifest in physical ways, to him. I think it came out perfectly.

No doubt! And you obviously loved the idea of putting out some music videos, as it’s not the sole video in support of the record. Will there be more?

Well, we had another one from Hiccup, for the song Yr Freaking Out, by Everything is Terrible!, this website that does clips of found film from old B and C horror movies. I’ve been a fan of the site for a long time, and it was another situation where I reached out and they dug the song and decided to make something with it.

I’ve always loved music videos. I grew up watching MTV with my older brother–Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box, Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun, Frank Black’s Los Angeles, Foo Fighter’s Everlong, Blur’s Coffee + TV, Beastie Boys, Fatboy Slim, hell even Mr. Oizo and Aphex Twin. So many good music videos that have stayed so clear in my mind so many years later!
Besides just loving vids, I love collaborating with other artists. For each Cup video, including the older one for The Enemy, I simply gave the artist the lyrics and the song and let them run with it in whichever way they saw fit. The end result is always such a pleasant and awesome surprise, doing it that way.
There will definitely be more videos in the future!

Hell yeah, tell me about those early and mid 90s music videos! In Europe, we have had TV stations like Viva Zwei that encapsulated that era perfectly (see here, here, here, or here), and I can totally relate to the nostalgic aesethetic of VHS quality videos.
Speaking of your partnerships with other artists and creators, tell us about Aagoo Records and how this cooperation came to be.

It’s really a similar story with Aagoo! I had recently discovered this grimy punk band called ZULUS and was super digging their sound, and checked out the label that put their record out. As I was looking at Aagoo’s catalog, I was struck by all the different types of music they put out, and even moreso struck by the fact that they had released a WAND song on a split, which is my absolute favorite band around these days. They even released some of the main writer in WAND, Cory Hanson’s, early stuff. So, I had just finished mixing the album, and sent it over to Aagoo’s email address. The guy who runs it, Alec, emailed back that he’d listen (the first real response I had gotten up to that point), then listened to the mixes for probably two weeks straight before hopping on the phone with me to discuss releasing the record. My favorite part: he told me the final test was letting his kids listen to the record to see if they liked it or not haha.

Haha! You made it! ;)

CUP!

After so many records and more and more experience in the field of weird rockin’, how do you feel about your evolution as a writer? Do you a routine for songwriting? Tell us about your creative process? Is it is it at least partly as bizarre as your sound? ;)

It’s evolved a lot. I used to lay down drum tracks by themselves, then figure out guitar parts and lyrics on the spot, and would record everything in a day–now I start with the guitar, and take a lot more time. But you know, it’s really not all that exotic. I’m the type of person that sits down with a guitar and thinks, “ok, time to write a song,” and just start playing different chord progressions until I find a riff that sticks. I’ve become a lot pickier, so it takes me a bit longer these days, and I get stuck more often these days. But when that happens, I just put the guitar down, crack open a beer, watch an episode of Twin Peaks, take a day listening to the music I love, then get back to it.

What do you enjoy most about this loose process?

Well, there’s just never any stress to get a song done. It comes when it comes. And if it finally comes out and is shit, oh well! Scrap and move on. Can’t be too precious, you know?

And how about the content side of it? How do your current lyrical ideas come about? What are your inspirations for that?

The lyrics honestly take the longest time to write in the whole songwriting process. I read and write poetry really often, and am a fan of surreal and absurd contemporary poets, so my lyrics tend to skew towards the weird and absurd. The most recent lyrics are becoming a little more personal, as well. I deal with anxiety pretty often in my life now–not just the general uneasiness, but the full bodily panic attacks, the chemical imbalance in your brain, feeling like you might be having a heart attack or stroke or something and not being able to control your thoughts. So a lot of songs are in some ways working through that. Yr Freaking Out is pretty literally about realizing you’re about to have a full blown panic attack.

What’ are the reasons for that? Apart from writing, how do you heal from it?

There’s really no concrete reason–it’s likely a genetic thing. Writing about it helps contextualize it and verbalize it, I guess. I’ve learned some techniques to help whenever I feel an attack happening, but really the key is to be aware of the problem and to avoid situations that typically lead to anxiety. For example, not being massively hungover helps a lot. Not drinking too much coffee, as well. It’s just being mindful.

We could practice it together sometime. Like have 2 instead of 3 imperial stouts together during your next visit in Warsaw, huh? Any plans to visit Poland anytime soon?

Exactly! But that was a fun as hell night, man. I’ll probably be there next March! I was there at the end of August, but only briefly for my cousin’s wedding, over in a town called Biala Podlaska. It was my first Polish wedding, which lived up to the hype. I must’ve had fifteen shots of vodka, and they served food until 2 in the morning. That barszcz z uszkami at the end of the night was a lifesaver…

Awesome! That’s like 2 hours drive from my home town of Łomża and Podlasie is a one hell of a land of beautiful forests, countrysides, and great, simple, but surprisingly tasty food! Hope you experienced that on that wedding.

CUP live

Ok Tym, so what’s next for CUP? Do you have any new projects, records, TOURS (!) in the works?

There’s always new Cup records! I already have one recorded and mixed in the bag, called Jitter Visions. Even have artwork by my favorite guy, Etienne Puaux! And I’m writing out songs for the next next Cup, which will be more similar to one of the previous albums, Puc. I’m thinking of putting together a few little tours in the States for 2018, but would love to come to Europe and Polska sometime soon! Could you help me book Warszawa?

Definitely! Let me know about your schedules and we’ll sort it out.
Ok Tym, so thanks so much for this quick check in and update on CUP! Please feel free to share your final words, music recommendations, anything that you feel is worth mentioning before you sign off. Cheers buddy!

Hope you dig the album! For recommendations, I’d say to check out some of the other releases the label, Aagoo has, they release some killer records. Darto’s Human Giving, their split with the before-mentioned Wand, Prettiest Eyes, Zulus, Inutili, all great great stuff.

Dziekuje bardzo, Karol! Do zobaczenia!

CUP online: Bandcamp / Facebook / Aagoo / Instagram / YouTube / E-Mail

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