Formed in 2013, Bone Cult began after two members of a rock band decided they’d had enough. Time spent experimenting with productions in the studio – using synths, drum machines and more – led to the electronic duo, consisting of No.1 and Day2, finding that unique, fresh sound they were in search of, and settling on a new musical identity. Never showing their faces publicly, their only distinguishing feature comes in the form of artful tattoos covering their torsos. Even their tracked vocals are distorted beyond recognition. With an impressive cult following that has seen them perform across the globe and a debut album set for release this month, we talked to the Notts-based duo to uncover more about the minds that lie beneath the masks...
You’re known for your strong visual presence on stage and those glowing masks. Have they always been part of Bone Cult?
No.1: Yeah, we always had masks. Originally they were gas masks from a military surplus shop, but they were just terrible to play with; we couldn’t see or breathe properly. More importantly, other artists have used gas masks in the past and we wanted to find something unique. We thought about using Japanese masks but eventually we found some in Thailand with such a strong identity. It was just what we were looking for, so we stuck with them.
Day2: We actually have different ones, depending on where we’re playing. Some are just black and white like a Yin and Yang kind of thing, but they all come from the same place.
Your imagery is quite dark but your music isn’t really aggressive. Do you ever worry that people might be disappointed to find that the music isn’t as extreme as your look might suggest?
No.1: It’s actually quite funny when people expect one thing and then get something completely different. It reflects what we want to do – bringing different sounds and messing around with people’s preconceptions.
Day2: The electronic side really allows us to have this effect and experiment with genres more. When we used to have a heavier sound it felt quite limiting, so now we don’t want to conform to one thing or another. But yes, some people definitely hate the whole mask thing.
No.1: Some people think it’s a gimmick, but it’s not; it’s just fun. We don’t want to be like everyone else and ultimately, our band is about the music and not “us” personally. It’s not about who we are, it’s about the experience we’re sharing when we play live.
Day2: We prefer people to know us as an identity rather than as people.
You had already performed all over the world before deciding to release your first album. Was that intentional?
Day2: It just happened. We were asked to play in South Korea for Zandari Festa in 2018, and while we were there we booked our own tour in Asia. We played in Japan and then Canada, and we also played in the US. It wasn’t conscious – the offers came and we agreed.
No.1: That’s why we do music in the first place: to travel and to take our sound out as far as we can, rather than just playing the same venues. It’s much more exciting to go out and see the world.
I don’t think we are a band that everyone is going to get into and that’s a good thing, because we don’t want to be ‘universal’
What can people expect from the album?
No.1: It took us a long time to get to this point. Now we can confidently say that this is the time for our album. We wanted to do something memorable and unique so, if anything, this is a statement – this album reflects our sound and what we do. I don’t think we are a band that everyone is going to get into and that’s a good thing, because we don’t want to be ‘universal’. We just want to do something we genuinely enjoy rather than trying to please.
Day2: That’s the thing, being refreshing from everyone else; I don’t want to be in a scene. We also want to make it unpredictable. The album is going to be an experimental wide palette of sounds.
No.1: We always think about how each track will translate to a live show. While some just write a record to be listened to at home, we’re always thinking about the stage; is it going to be energetic and how are people going to react to it?
A regular criticism levelled at electronic music as a genre is that it’s just created from home on a computer, while a band is made to perform live...
Day2: It’s really hard to think about how it will sound live when you’re writing electronic music. We don’t want to offer flat, club music. That’s also why we have a live drummer on stage to make it more dynamic and interactive.
Will you be going on tour to promote the album?
No.1: Yes! We’ll be doing a full UK tour this year. With hindsight, we’ve been all over the world but we didn’t do a full UK tour last year. We’re also looking forward to playing UK-based festivals this summer, but it’s too early to announce which ones just yet.
Day2: We are also going to Australia in September and October.
Your sound is obviously personal, but are there other acts that inspire you?
No.1: Even though we grew up listening to rock bands, we both play guitar as well as liking electronic music, so we try to bring the different influences together. There are a lot of nineties producers, such as Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers, that we really like. Daft Punk of course is a massive influence. On the rock side, we’re big fans of bands like Deftones and Incubus.
Day2: For live shows, acts like Rammstein are up there because they have crazy productions and that’s what we want to achieve with the masks and the lasers. Bands like the Prodigy and Pendulum who blend that rock and electronic genre together have inspired us too.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell LeftLion readers?
No.1: A shout to some other Nottingham bands people should listen to: Eyre Llew, Baby Tap and A Hundred Crowns.
Day2: I just hope that people listening to our album will find something different from any other band… I think a lot of people are going to hate the album.
No.1: Yeah, it’s probably true! But that’s OK.
Bone Cult’s debut album Death Electronica is released on Monday 30 March