It’s often difficult to keep tabs on Athens noise pop duo Cancers. The band has a dedicated following around the world yet they rarely play shows in Athens or Atlanta. Still, when their restaurant experiment Preserve concluded with the explosive Halloween Hop fest last year, it became clear the husband and wife duo weren’t running out of creative energy — something further evidenced by their low-key drop of a new EP in January.
Soft to the Touch fits well as the successor to 2014’s Fatten the Leeches. Both records indulge in a bit of grunge worship, but the detail-oriented nature of their latest recalls Hole and Alice Donut more than the macho rock groups which ended up poisoning alternative radio well into the 2000s. However, what really separates Cancers from the hordes of ’90s imitators is a self-aware confidence reflective of the band members’ long musical history. Nothing feels contrived, yet every each transition and hook is perfectly defined. Cancers have reached the point in their career where experience is indistinguishable from instinct, and Soft to the Touch is better for it.
Cancers’ DIY stadium sound (that’s a thing right?) is the opposite of their sparse online presence, so as soon as I saw a link to their new EP pop up on their Facebook, I reached out to guitarist and vocalist Lenny Miller to learn more about the album and the band’s future.
You spent awhile on the underground circuit in Unfun. What did you learn from your time there that you brought to Cancers?
Try not to kill yourself every night. Next question.
Why do think Athens is a good fit for Cancers?
I think that Athens is a great city for Ella and me to live in and raise our kid Ezra coming this spring. I mean, it has a great community and our neighbors are great, blah blah. I think Cancers could exist anywhere as long as we’re focused on the band, but right now we’re focused on a home life. But I have been playing shows in my new band Cuddlefish that’s kinda like late ’90s emo punk hardcore like Grade or something…
Now that you’re working at the World Famous, will you be more involved in curating shows there?
I don’t think so.
As a rock duo, do you ever feel pigeonholed into a certain sound?
Yes. We are artists and this is pretty much a vanity project to stroke our own musical egos.
Your albums always tread the fine line between studio polish and raw energy. How did you find this balance on Soft to the Touch?
I think Topon Das who mixed the record did that. He mostly does metal records and I prefer metal engineers then rock or indie or tape lovers or whatever. Real metal and grindcore are gross so I think those metal engineers really can make it sound ‘saturated,’ which is where I think the crossover between that and produced sounds rad.
Were you inspired by anything in particular (musical or otherwise) while writing the record?
The Rentals. Japanese shoegaze/alternative.
Why the secretive drop of the new EP on your Facebook page earlier this month?
Because we’re fucking tired. But for real Flake Records will be releasing it in Japan this spring.
Do you have plans to tour behind the Soft to the Touch?
We’re going to release another EP and then tour USA/Japan/Canada/Euro late 2018.
Do you have any other releases planned for 2017?
The release of Ezra from Ella’s womb.
To listen to Soft to the Touch, visit Cancers’ private SoundCloud link.