Cut Worms, the new project of musician Max Clarke, is the equivalent of comfort food for me, and his debut EP Alien Sunset, which dropped last month on Jagjaguwar, will make you feel better than all the turkey and gravy in the world. Recorded on an 8-track to give it that extra hint of nostalgia, the EP reminds me of so many treasured gems: Bob Lind, even early Hamburg era Beatles, all without a hint of repetition or tedium, and spun up with Clarke’s warm voice cruising you through the waves of his narrative. It’s light, soothing, and will go great with some pumpkin pie. So press play on these beautifully homespun jams and read our quick interview with Clarke below. –Maya Eslami
WHAT YOUTH: When did you start playing music?
CUT WORMS: I started playing music when I was I think 12. My uncles got me started with guitar.
Your voice reminds me so much of Bob Lind. What inspires your sound?
I don’t know Bob Lind personally, but he wrote and continues to write beautiful songs. I covered one of them and he actually contacted me via social media and gave me the “thumbs up” for it, which was a real nice feeling. I don’t know what inspires my sound… supernatural stuff i guess….
Your EP Alien Sunset is your first proper release. How do you feel about it?
I feel good about it. I think they’re pretty honest home recordings that due fair justice to the songs at their beginning stages. I’m glad to have them out in the world.
I read that it’s a collection of home-recorded demos. Where did you record them? Tell me about that process?
It is a collection of home demos. They were recorded over a period of a year or two between my living in Chicago and moving to New York. They are sonic sketches, essentially, and it was a learning process to write and record them.
And tell me about the two months when you challenged yourself to write two songs a day?
Hah. I feel like this is turning into one of those folk tales where the story keeps doubling on itself… pretty soon it’ll be how i decided to make a record-per-day. It was really that I had a friend and roommate who wrote a song a day and that kind of inspired me to try to release a “digital single” each month for as long as i could — which in my mind meant two songs, an “A” and a “B” side. But by all means lets keep this thing going… I made ten albums a minute for 6 months….
What was your favorite criticism you got back from those recordings?
People mostly said it sounded old. Which is a compliment to me. The older the better. Give me caveman dinosaur shaman chants, thats what I’m after.
And did any of them make it on the EP?
Several of the good ones are on the EP. I’d say at least 40%.
Do you consider yourself a folk musician?
Sure, if it helps people to think of me as a folk musician then I am, but if some other people hate folk music but still like what I’m doing, then I can be whatever that is too.
I heard that you wrote “Songs of the Highest Tower” the same day Lou Reed passed away. Do you remember what that feeling was like? To hear that he had died?
Yeah I was mostly just sad about it. Funny to be sad about someone you never knew. But it’s all pretty funny.
What’s your favorite Velvet Underground song? Do you remember how you discovered them?
Hmmm i don’t remember how i discovered them originally. Probably from a skateboarding video. Not sure if I could pick a favorite song, but i do like “I’m set free” especially the line “I saw my head laughing rolling on the ground.”
When did you decide to go form Max Clarke to Cut Worms?
I just like Cut Worms ‘cause it feels visceral and i like how it’s sort of misleading to what my music actually sounds like.
And what’s next for Cut Worms, now that touring’s done?
A bit of the ol’ “R and R”– Maybe I’ll go fishing.