Los Angeles-based band, Cones, crafts an intelligent blend of indie and pop music on their recently announced debut album, Pictures of Pictures.
While the Rosen brothers only began making music together a few years ago, through touring with The Fiery Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger, as both her backing band and members of her opener Icewater, this Cones debut is a long time coming.
After releasing a handful of singles, the band went into a friend’s studio to collaborate with a producer for the first time and record what they thought would be their first record. Ultimately, the album did not feel, to the brothers, like a Cones record, so they returned to their home studio and started from scratch.
Now, the album, which offers up an intoxicating blend of shimmering psychedelic exploration and muscular pop craftsmanship will be released this fall. Pre-order Pictures of Pictures, out September 20th on Dangerbird.
Read our conversation with Cones and listen to their new track, “Laugh of the Party” down below:
Culture COLLIDE: How did you arrive at the title Pictures of Pictures for your forthcoming album?
Jonathan: The title “Pictures of Pictures” is a lyric from a song on the record called “Eyes of Propane.” For me the phrase represents the idea of trying to get back to a moment in time, while simultaneously getting further and further away from it. Be it a beautiful portrait of a childhood moment, or a person you’ve loved and lost, it’s the impossible goal of recapturing the truth of those beautiful snapshots. Our friend Grant, who passed away and whose memory informs everything Michael and I do together, used to take a photo on his phone and then screenshot it like hundreds of times. By the end, the fidelity of the original image had distorted, but it had become something new and beautiful in its one way. That’s what pictures of pictures
means to me – honoring the complex moments of our pasts while being at peace with their change.
CC: Is there a theme or central concept to the album lyrically?
Jonathan: Much of the album is about trying to tap back into a childhood state of wonder and imagination. Most of it is about dreams. I’m a pretty heavy dreamer, and I get a lot of lyrics and song titles from dreams. Sometimes I get melodies but in the bright of day, they’re often unintelligible. When I was a kid there was a hole in the wall of my bedroom. I used to sit in it and draw or close my eyes and listen to music. I have this recurring dream now where I’m trying to get back into that hole in my wall, often through some treacherous maze-like cave. The first song on our record is called “The Hole.” It’s supposed to feel like you’re finally entering that safe and imaginative space.
CC: Tell us about your new single “Laugh of the Party” premiering here on Culture Collide?
Jonathan: “Laugh of the Party” is about two friends driving many hours through the desert rain to see their favorite singer perform. It is an ode to the road, friendship, and the need to see your heroes on stage while they’re still alive on this planet. I wrote it in my head on a long walk through the mountains and finished it on my guitar when I got back into my car.
CC: When you two lads argue, as all brothers do, how do you typically resolve those conflicts?
Michael: Arguing is a completely essential part of our creative process. Since we have spent our entire lives fighting and resolving, we have embraced that nature as an ebb and flow in our music-making. There are large periods within a day of work, or within a week or month, that has a positive flow, only enabled by the moments we can vent our frustrations with each other. We don’t have to necessarily try to resolve our conflicts, because our relationship is unconditional. We can rip each other apart and know it will be ok.
CC: Would you consider yourselves spiritual? And if so, how does that impact the music you make?
Michael: We are indeed spiritual, and had a very spiritual upbringing. We are Jewish (as you might have guessed by the name Rosen), and while we aren’t practicing Jews, we gained a lot of spirituality and sense of community from going to Temple as kids, preparing for Bar Mitzvah’s, etc. Beyond religion, we had a very spiritual role model in our family growing up. Our Grandmother, Alma, was a psychic and healer. Her story is long and deep, and cannot really be summed up in a short answer. She read tea leaves for all sorts of people that sought her out. One of our favorite stories is about her reading for Elvis Presley. She passed away when we were early teenagers, but we feel connected to her with everything we do.
CC: How did you first link up with Dangerbird Records?
Michael: We started a relationship with Dangerbird after we released two of our first singles, “Back in the Brain” and “Whatever You’re Into,” with another label. Aaron Espinoza from Dangerbird (and founder of the band Earlimart) found our stuff through a friend of his and reached out about releasing a couple more songs with them. This was about 2 years ago. We all got along extremely well and decided to make an album together.
CC: Tell us about your favorite show that you’ve played together as Cones to date?
Jonathan: My favorite show so far was at Treefort Festival in Boise, Idaho. It was right after SXSW, where we had played like 11 shows in 5 days. Our minds were frayed to bits, and after a very long drive to Idaho, we were having trouble getting into the right state of mind to perform. We pulled up to this Masonic meeting hall where we were playing and saw a line around the building to get in. I don’t know why, but we kinda thought it was going to be a very low key show. We loaded in our gear in the pouring rain, and from backstage saw more people then we’d ever played in front of. That got the adrenaline going immediately, and it just ended up being such an energetic and positive experience. I really love Boise. Everybody was so kind to us.
CC: If you could choose any actors, live or dead, to play the two of you in a movie who would they be?
Jonathan: If I’m being realistic, Andy Samberg would play me and Seth Green would play Michael. In a perfect world, I’d say young Leo… and Seth Green.