Cutter Kinda Creeps Us Out, But in a Good Way

After receiving a Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Electronic Act in 2013, Cutter has proven themselves to be one of the fastest growing bands in Dallas. Their show fliers have proven to be too hot for Facebook and their live act is a phantasmagorical experience to say the least.

We caught up the duo, Jared Coffey and Alex Velte, at their rehearsal space in Lakewood to find out what makes them tick, which resulted in a discussion about horror movies and the influence the Miami Zombie has had on them.

WATCH this clip of Cutter perform their version of Mr. Kitty’s “Destroy Me” as we invade their practice space.

© 2013 Deep Dallas Music | Video by 13thVillage

How did you guys meet, and what made you decide to start making music together?

Jared Coffey: We’ve known each other since high school. We met through mutual friends, but we didn’t hang out much.

Alex Velte: I actually hung out with his older brother.

Coffey: My older brother was more social, I was kind of reserved and shy back then. I hung out by myself most of the time. The music thing just kind of happened naturally. We were both into music for years even before high school. I’ve been in bands since I was twelve. Through haning out, we discovered we liked music and it happened.

What kind of music were you making in the bands before Cutter?

Coffey: I was in a rock band at first, always playing drums. For a while we had a band where all we did was record one practice session, but we had several songs. Remember Pretty Good?

Velte: Yeah, we had a band called Pretty Good. People loved that CD.

Coffey: We made hip hop songs for awhile after that. All our friends were in the hip hop group, and eventually we decided that since me and Alex were doing the majority of the work, we should just make it a duo and just do our own thing, and that’s pretty much the birth of Cutter.

When you guys formed Cutter, what are some of the influences you brought in for your sound?

Velte: Suicide (the band) is one of our biggest influences.

Coffey: We kind of latch onto some bands and kind of change our sound every now and then, and when we heard Suicide’s first album that was a big one. I’m real partial to this punk band from the seventies called The Screamers that were one of the first punk rock electronic bands. They didn’t use any guitars on stage and I always thought that was real cool.

Velte: It was all keyboards, which was rare in the late seventies.

Coffey: You can play rock style music with electronic instruments, which was a pretty cool idea to me.

At your live shows, you project clips from horror movies like Hellraiser and Demons, do horror movies figure into the subject matter of your songs and the sound of your music?

Velte: Definitely, it’s been an influence on our songs. Most of the songs we write together are about any horrible story we can find.

Coffey: Our songs are always about something. I find it impossible to write a song without some kind of idea to write about, and those ideas usually come from whatever story we’re into at the time. The horror movie stuff is just something we’ve been into since we were kids, so of course it’s going to give us some ideas.

You guys got hooked in with Dallas Distortion Music, how did that come about?

Coffey: We were at Good Records and we met up with Derek [Kutzer] from Blackstone Rangers, and he introduced us to Evan [Henry] and Matt [Vickers] from Dallas Distortion. Derek said, “these guys are Cutter.” They said, “oh YOU’RE Cutter!” Somebody knows who we are! They threw the idea out there and of course we were all for it.

What do you guys do when you aren’t making music?

Velte: I don’t have any hobbies. I wake up and go right to work.

Coffey: We both have jobs. When we get off work, we usually have some music business to take care of, even if it’s something light like going over a song.

Velte: Or making racy fliers.

 

Ones that get Jessica [Martinez] banned from Facebook!

Velte: I was very happy about that.

Coffey: Doesn’t surprise me at all. One of our fliers got taken off Facebook…

Velte: Matt from Dallas Distortion got banned for four days, he made it his profile picture.

Coffey: Which is a no-no with racy images.

Apparently you can’t share them on Facebook either!

Velte: Which is weird, because no one’s taken ours down. Maybe if I check in an hour it’ll be gone.

Coffey: The whole racy fliers thing isn’t something we do intentionally; in fact, most of them aren’t like that at all. Whenever we make a flier, whatever image happens to be something we like…

Velte: We did have a really cool image of the Florida incident with the homeless man getting his face eaten off for one of our fliers…

© 2013 Deep Dallas Music | Video by 13thVillage

Coffey: The Miami Zombie!

Velte: The one where they were on top of each other on the ground together.

Coffey: Right after that happened we used that image for a show at Bryan Street [Tavern].

Velte: Stories like that is where we get our song topics from.

Ripped from the headlines, like a good exploitation movie.

Coffey: “First on,” that’s about a real story that happened.

Velte: I think it was out in Grand Prairie, a father of a family in an apartment complex dressed up as Santa, and he basically murdered his family and killed himself.

Coffey: On Christmas morning!

Velte: This was last year. And we wrote the song “First on Their Family,” if you look at the lyrical content it’s completely about his whole approach, how he came in and what he might have been thinking, and to me I think those are some of our best lyrics that we’ve done. Yeah, we’re definitely drawn to more of the darker stuff, and we’ve made up stories ourselves and written a scenario from the mindset of whoever is in that horrible situation. It brings a little more passion to the music that way.

Coffey: Yeah, we don’t have a lot of love songs.

You guys said you’ve pounded the pavement when it comes to live shows, what are your impressions of performing live?

Coffey: Performing live, it’s a fun thing you get to do. Taking what you do at home and getting to share it with people in a venue, and getting feedback on the work that you’ve done. And it’s instant thirty minutes of “here’s who we are,” and then it’s done. There’s just kind of a satisfaction in that.

Velte: For me, it’s great to bring high quality noises to a live show, because other bands that that we see, we don’t get to see these really interesting sounds being played live. There’s usually just a backtrack or something. We actually will play these sounds live, you never know where they’re gonna go, we work the synthesizers. When you turn a knob, you never know what sound is gonna pour out of it, and I think it’s better that way instead of relying on software. We rely on more analog equipment.

Coffey: That makes it fun, because you never know if something’s gonna go wrong. There’s that element of danger I guess. People always ask, “do you get nervous when you play?” And I say, “no, not really.” I usually get nervous right before we go on stage, but everything leading up to that, and when I’m actually on stage, I don’t think we get nervous at all.

Velte: Well, I still get nervous. I shake real bad for the first five songs! If you see us live, I’m usually shaking pretty bad, but a few songs in I get more comfortable.

What are some of your impressions of the Dallas music scene over the past year?

Coffey: There’s a lot of it we haven’t even explored yet. Like the metroplex itself, everything’s so spread out. I think it would be cooler if there was a more confined area like the way Deep Ellum used to be, where there’s tons of venues and everything’s going on right there. But now, the venues are so spread out all over the place, it’s kind of hard to keep track of everything. But usually all the shows we’ve been to are really cool and everybody’s really nice.

Velte: A lot of the more established bands have taken us under their wing, that’s why we’ve gotten so many shows is these other acts have liked us so, they’ve wanted us to play with them again. So we’ve gotten a lot of really good shows just from the Dallas scene liking us and inviting us in, which is great. I don’t think we’d be where we are without the other Dallas bands, without Blackstone Rangers, without Dallas Distortion Music. They’ve helped us out a shitload.

Coffey: There’s also a lot of stuff in the live scene that people don’t even know about. There are a lot of venues that just kind of pop up over night, and they might be in the middle of nowhere. I was at a show in Denton, it was a punk show, and the venue was just somebody’s house. Apparently they do shows there all the time.

Velte: Those are the kind of places I would like Cutter to play more so, I think our sound would fit in with more DIY shows, more of a punk rock scene, more of a dark scene. A lot of the gigs we’ve been getting have been more pop rock, and I think we fit in more so with a basement type sound. Unfortunately there are no basements here in Dallas.

 

How would you describe your sound to someone who doesn’t know a great deal about music?

Coffey: We both have jobs and when people who work outside our music lives ask us about our band, we know they probably don’t know anything about music, so I usually just describe it as electronic rock, that’s the most basic way.

Velte: I usually try to throw in a few more words and say it’s noise-synth-driven with maybe a punk attitude towards it. We’ll throw some names of bands around, but nobody really knows Burzum or The Screamers or anything like that, so it’s kind of hard to have someone understand where we’re coming from when we describe our band.

What can we expect from you in 2013?

Coffey: An album.

Coffey: Pretty soon we’re gonna release another EP. We just put out the three song EP split with Vulgar Fashion, and we’re gonna do our own EP pretty soon, that’s actually almost finished. After that, maybe a few months later, we’ll try to release a full album.

 

© 2013 Deep Dallas Music | Photos by 13thVillage

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