When William T. Cook and Adam Agin joined forces to become Neulore, it was a case of yin and yang, up and down, tortoise and hare. Though that combination could easily result in more friction than anything, in this particular case, the opposing forces create a natural balance, a levity that allows the magic to flow freely. And flow it does. Neulore’s new album, Animal Evolve, is purposely cinematic and wildly anthemic. They call what they do “modern folk,” but “baroque rock” might be a more fitting moniker. Either way, the boys of Neulore are playing to their strengths — all of them, as Cook explains.
When you first met, what was it that each of you saw in the other that signaled magic was possible?
I think, when we first met, I was impressed by his passion to do something inspired. There was also a lot of vulnerability and heart there. I think, initially, he realized that I could play guitar really musically and that was probably enough. But the further into our musical relationship we get, the more I think we realize that we’re polar opposites in just about every way possible and that’s what makes us unique. He’s spontaneous; I’m a perfectionist. He’s hyper-emotional; I’m even keel. He has a more raw, aggressive talent that flows from his purely emotional side, and I grew up singing in choirs, playing piano and classical guitar, and analyzing records. It’s really hilarious how different we are, but that is where the “magic” comes from.
What’s the centerpiece song on the record — and why?
“Shadow of a Man.” It’s the song that best represents the tension inherent in the rest of the record. As we get older, we become more aware of not only who we are, but what made us who we are. The next step is to think about how that truth affects the world around us. The phrase, “Nothing I do affects no one” keeps bubbling to the surface of my mind lately. So much of who we become is directly influenced by the actions of other people, good and bad. There’s a choice to move forward and either be a positive influence on the future, or you have the power to do the opposite. I think, since we’re all connected, we might as well learn to love each other.
Where, exactly, is the folk in this “modern folk” music you make?
When I think of folk music, I think of music that is honest, intensely personal yet for the people, and attempting to make sense of the world. But our process is a bit different than most. When we’re writing, we’ve usually dreamed up a world in which the record exists, much like a novelist or screenwriter, and an idea of what we want the record to say. So, technically, you could say it’s folk music for the people in that made up world. But, in an odd way, I think that’s exactly how we experience folk music from the past. Traditional folk music helps us connect with people we’ll never meet and understand them. It’s a sort of conversation through time.
In the “struggle between human decency and animalistic savagery” that is Animal Evolve, which side wins?
It isn’t so much who wins as which side you decide to devote your life to and what you want your legacy to be when you’re no longer around. I’m reminded of a passage in [John] Steinbeck’s East Of Eden: “When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved, his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that, if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.”
How do you guys see that battle and victory being reflected in the world today?
Well, that’s such a deep question. I think Americans are so focused on viewing the world as massive groups of people that we forget those groups are made up of individuals not unlike ourselves. You can’t address world problems without focusing on individual minds and souls. It seems obvious, knowing what we respond to as humans, that love is the most powerful and longest lasting form of persuasion we have at our disposal. Not guns or bombs. So I hope we focus more on loving the people we disagree with and less on trying to demonize and destroy them.
This article originally appeared on No Depression.