Interview: Cigarettes After Sex Frontman Greg Gonzalez Talks ‘Cry’
Cigarettes After Sex’s self-titled debut LP was the definition of a slow-burn success. The band’s drowsy, ambient-pop sound took a while to find an audience, but when it did, they couldn’t stop listening. The album went on to garner hundreds of millions of streams and turned Greg Gonzalez & Co. into an unlikely chart force. After spending two years on the road, the guys eventually decamped to the Spanish island of Mallorca to put the finishing touches on the followup. Cry, which arrived in October, picks up exactly where they left off — with cinematic, widescreen sounds and poetic lyrics.
I recently posed Greg, frontman and mastermind behind Cigarettes After Sex, a handful of questions about the band’s stunning sophomore LP. He explained why the album was recorded in Mallorca, opened up about the creation of “Heavenly” (it was literally born underneath the stars) and revealed the inspiration for album highlight, “You’re The Only Good Thing In My Life.” Other topics of conversation included Hentai and CAS3. Get to know one of music’s true visionaries a little better in our Q&A below.
The music for Cry was recorded in 2017. Why did it take so long for the lyrics to come together?
It mostly had to do with our touring schedule. Once our first LP started taking off we basically said yes to every gig and went to play shows on almost every continent. I found I simply couldn’t write anything worthwhile on tour and had to take a break to get anything done.
What appealed to you about finishing it in Mallorca?
Mallorca just sounded exotic to me and escapist especially. The place we found in Mallorca was beautifully secluded and ended up being the perfect setting for the music we wanted to make.
You compared the album to a film. Is there a narrative that runs Cry?
It’s more in the images in my mind I was writing from, whether they were imagined or taken from reality or a mix of both. I tend to write as a way of conveying the scenes that play out in my mind.
Who would play you if the movie was made?
I definitely idolize actors and actresses so much. Maybe I would do something like the Buñuel film That Obscure Object of Desire where two different people played the role of one character and have Marcello Mastroianni and Irene Jacob trade off.
“Heavenly” is so dreamy and lush. How do you create that sound in a studio?
This was another song taken from Mallorca. It was literally recorded outdoors in a courtyard underneath the stars one night. I feel like that atmosphere gave the song it’s specific mood.
How has the CAS sound evolved on this record?
I feel like it only just went a bit deeper this time, especially just accentuating certain aspects of my writing and the overall sound. It wasn’t meant to be a major change this time.
“You’re The Only Good Thing In My Life” is one of my favorite songs on the album. What inspired it?
That’s very sweet of you to say. This song is definitely a mix of fantasy and reality. I chose images that I found sensual and gentle together. The overall feeling of the song was inspired by my girlfriend, some feelings and moments we’ve shared together.
Did Hentai (manga erotica) inspire the similarly-titled song on your album?
I’ve actually been inspired by a lot of anime growing up and found that even some hentai had very imaginative and interesting qualities about it. The song is taken from the experience where my girlfriend and I had started to fall for each other. It’s about how we could instantly share feelings that felt so personal so quickly.
Have you started thinking about CAS3 yet?
We’ve recorded just a few more songs since, but nothing I would call the next record. I’ll have a break right after this tour to begin writing and thinking about it.
Your debut LP was so successful. Do you feel the weight of expectations with Cry?
Not really. I feel like all the music we’ve done has simply been snapshots of my life at the time and that’s what means the most to me. They’re simply meant for myself and the people I care for, or have cared for that I sing about.
Have you been able to process the incredible success of your debut?
I feel like I’ve processed it the most when we’re on tour and get a chance to meet our fans. The stories they tell me about how the music has affected their lives always hits the hardest and my life has only gotten sweeter. I’m truly thankful for those moments.
What can we expect from your new live show?
I think you’ll see the show growing more cinematic as time goes on and right now we’re in the process of trying to make that more powerful. However we mostly just want to create a show that’s based on us performing our songs as beautifully and simply as we can.