Showcase Interview: The Cuckoos

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the cuckoos

This is just the beginning for the four guys who make up the band that are currently achieving new sounds: The Cuckoos. Kenneth Frost, Dave North, Eric Ross, and Cole Koenning are The Cuckoos— a band out of Austin, Texas, climbing new heights while balancing school and the ventures of being young. Often being compared to artists from the 60’s, these talented musicians are hoping to blow the minds of listeners with the new and unique sounds expected to be heard on their upcoming record. Stay tuned.

BT: The four of you are from Austin, Texas, right?

All: Yeah!

Eric: And we all live in Austin.

BT: How did you all meet?

Kenneth: Well, I was jammin’ with some other guys pretty early on and Dave came to our second show or something and he knew the drummer I was playing with so we linked up and I then met these two through Dave.

BT: Awesome! How old are you all?

Kenneth: Cole is 18, Dave is 19, Eric just turned 21, and I turn 21 in February.

BT: Wow, you all are so young. How does it feel to have accomplished so many things at such a young age?

Kenneth: Well, I have a lot more work to do.

Eric: There were a lot of people that were young and did really cool stuff. Lorde is younger than me, Mozart was like 14. Looking at others who are as young as me accomplishing a lot  really makes me feel driven.

Kenneth: Tony Williams.

BT: How long has it been since you all have been playing together?

Kenneth: It’s been like a year and a half.

Cole: We joined back last August, so it’s been 11 months.

BT: Do you think it’ll remain just the four of you? Have you thought about adding any more members?

Kenneth: Maybe we can add a percussionist or a keyboard player when we get huge, but–

Dave: Maybe if cloning was involved.

BT: Would any of you like to work with someone in the near or distant future like producers or potential collaborators?

Kenneth: I am not sure I have anyone in mind but Austin is filled with music so I am sure we’ll bump into someone we’d want to work with eventually.

Dave: I would really like to work with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips to produce a record. That’d be cool.

BT: That’ll pair up nicely. As for your debut EP back in April, there were only six songs. Personally, I think anything over 10 is a bit much. Who’s idea was it to stick to six songs?

Kenneth: It was kind of something we bounced around for a long time through talking to our managers and to the people who were helping us record. We wanted to do an album first… then we decided we wanted to do an EP… then we really liked the songs we record for the EP so we wanted to record more for an album… but last minute we decided to just stick with the EP. We still have a lot of recorded songs that haven’t been released yet.

BT: Do you think you’ll release a full-length record anytime soon?

Kenneth: Sure! We’ve been working on this EP as well as other songs for almost a year now and I think we are getting really anxious to work on new material. We’ve all been writing a lot, so hopefully soon since this is our debut– but, I think we’re going to drop another single soon.

BT: What’s your writing process like?

Kenneth: Personally, I like to write music first then have the lyrics come later. I feel like a lot of people write the lyrics before the music, but I feel like the music is more important and I like to write words from how the music makes me feel. Like, if I write a really lovey-dovey piano piece then I’ll write lovey-dovey lyrics. If I write a hard Rock n’ Roll song, I’ll write something a little more dangerous. But, now we’ve been spending a lot of time playing live shows and recording, so our writing process is changing and evolving.

BT: Is it at all difficult to finalize tracks with there being four of you constantly spewing ideas at once

Dave: Well, we don’t really play anything —

Eric: Most of the time we just jam things out loud without structure and we all really like what each of us comes up with.

Dave: Yeah we don’t even really talk we just rock it out and listen.

Kenneth: But, I am sure if any of us were to play something we weren’t feeling we would speak up and discuss it.

BT: Each of you brings value to the band. Breaking down the band down, what does each of you bring to the table?

Cole: Well, i’m better looking.

Eric: Yeah, he’s obviously the best looking.

Kenneth: Cole has this luxurious body of hair.

Dave: His hair is the only reason i’m in this band.

Kenneth: All three of these guys are better technical musicians than me for sure. All of them have been playing longer. They are all multi-instrumentalists and can shred on both guitar and drums– basically they can do just about everything. I just started playing four or five years ago. They all definitely have music knowledge and actually know what they are doing most of the time compared to me.

BT: What did you experience four or five years ago that turned you to music? And for the three of you?

Kenneth: I listened to The Beatles and a switch went off in my head.

Cole: I don’t really have early memories of music because it has always been around me. It has been second nature to me all of my life. My dad’s a drummer, my mom is a pianist, all my siblings play instruments, and my favorite records to date are what I was listening to early in my life with my dad.

Dave: I just picked it up when I was five years old. I just asked for a guitar for my birthday, took lessons for a while after that, then started going to rock camps. That’s actually how Cole and I met.

Eric: I didn’t get into music until I was ten years old when I discovered the band Slayer. I heard their guitar riffs and I thought to myself, “Woah, those riffs are so cool.” So I was into metal for a few years, I played metal, and I was in a few metal bands. Then towards the end of high school I started getting into stuff like jazz, progressive rock, and I tried to hit and take influences from every genre that I could, which helps me with this band.

BT: With the liking and playing of different music, how do you all get the sounds to balance? How do you aim to portray yourselves as a band?

Kenneth: I think all of us just try to be ourselves and all of the music we listen to kind of just shows in our music. We all listen to different stuff and we just like making groovy tunes so that’s the image we try to portray.

BT: How about musical influences?

Kenneth and Eric: Talking Heads

Dave: Listening to shoegaze music has influenced me lately because all of the sounds and effects and how many different pedals you have create a different atmosphere for the track. You can come up with whole new tracks just off of a pedal.

BT: Where do you all see yourself in the next 3-5 years.

Kenneth: Definitely playing music. Hopefully in Japan with tons of crazy fans.

Cole: Something new, something experimental, and something out of the box.

Eric: We get so many people say we sound like bands from the 60’s, so it’ll be cool to be seen as a band whose pushing things forward as opposed to throwing it back.

Dave: I just want to always be in the studio. That’s my happy place. You can do anything you want. When you’re live it’s like you’re going down this stream with a current flowing, but in studio you’re in a silent pond and you can just drop a rock and the water goes pppsshhttt.

BT: Is it difficult constantly being compared to band from the 60’s while trying to remain modern?

Kenneth: The comparisons used to bother me. Now, the songs that are compared were recorded a year ago so yeah it may sound like that, but once we record new music that’ll change. Our live music has evolved quite a bit. When we go up there we rock hard  which lacks in a lot of bands these days. But, it has definitely gotten better especially with songs like “New Sunrise.”

BT:”New Sunrise” reminds me of a song that would fit perfectly in the end of a final cut from a movie scene.

Kenneth: Yeah, when we started doing songs like that people really started to lay back on the comparisons. We’ve been getting a lot more of 80’s comparisons. The comparisons have stretched to all around which I like better than constantly being compared to the 1960, 1967, and tango polish era comparisons. Right now we’re into making weird noises and experimenting with stuff so I think we’re going to work on making pretty fresh stuff that others aren’t doing.

BT: So what sets your band apart from the rest? Especially with being so young and having a lot of aspiring musicians barging into the music scene.

Kenneth: There are bands who play a certain way with big crowds and a certain way with a crowd of four, but with these three guys every time we play it’s as if we are in front of a crowd of 5,000 people. We always give it our all and rock the house. We have a really good drive and there is no one really making music like us right now. I haven’t heard anything else going in the direction we are going. We all love making music and sure it’ll be great if we were all able to afford mansions later on in life, but that is not our goal. Our goal is to live as musicians and share our music with the world. Our passion and our drive is what benefits us freely.

Eric: Also, I think what he said earlier about jamming hard in live settings. I feel like most bands, their songs are kind of cookie cutter. They’ll play the first line of every song like the album and then the rest of the songs sound are pre-composed. There is no living in the moment. We like to improvise.

BT: Who came up with your name?

Dave: Well, my mom named me ha ha.

Kenneth: I was trying to come up with something that sounded cool and had a ring to it. I was watching the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest with Jack Nicholson and I just kind of went with it. It stuck.

BT: Why the self-titled route as opposed to your lead single?

Kenneth: It felt right. If we would have named the EP after “New Sunrise” it would’ve felt cheesy.

BT: For those who haven’t heard your music, what can they expect to hear?

Eric: I think live is better.

Dave: If you’re a dad, you’ll love it.

Kenneth: I think it’s pretty groovy. Hopefully they dig it. There a lote of good guitars and lots of good yelling.

Dave: If they are in their car, we have stuff you can drive fast to and songs you can cruise to.

Kenneth: It’s good doobie smoking music, if you smoke doobies.

BT: As for those who are already familiar, how do you all think you are perceived by them? If you are an outsider looking in, what would you say about your band?

Dave: That Cole is the best looking one.

Eric: With the 60’s comparisons that we get, they may get that feel for the stuff we already have, but once we put more out they’ll realize that we’re more than that and we’re not just trying to be a 60’s throwback band.

Kenneth: I think the comparisons are slowly going away and people are realizing that we are no to something fresh.

BT: How was it picking song order for the EP? How about for live sets?

Dave: We are not uptight about song order.

Kenneth: Yeah, me and Dave will chill in my room and listen to songs and decide which should go where. We do take it seriously though.

Eric: I think it’s really important though.

Kenneth: For live, we have a template we go by.

BT: If the each of you could pick one word to describe your chemistry, what would the world be?

Cole: Intense

Kenneth: Tight

Eric: I’ll say aware.  When we’re live and I hear one of them playing something different from what I am playing i’ll try and match on to them. We all try to be aware.

Cole: We’re listening all the time.

Dave: We argue too. Cole and I will be jamming and he’ll yell at me on drums and i’ll yell back at ‘em.

BT: Any goals you set out to hit for the rest of 2017?

Kenneth: I think it would be nice for us to come back up to New York for some more shows. Also go to L.A. for the scene in terms of rock music. I’d be great to release new awesome material and rock ‘n roll.

Dave: First we’re going to rock . . .

All: Then we’re going to roll.

Eric: A fresh new batch of songs would be real cool.

Dave: I would like to  produce some of my own stuff. That would be great.

Cole: I’d like to refine my technique. For the past year I’ve just been jamming, but I’d like to perfect my craft. It’d be nice to sit down and practice on the drums everyday for a few hours.

Kenneth: We do want to work on vocal harmony too. As I mentioned earlier, Cole plays the drums, guitar, bass and sings. Dave sings and plays guitar, and Eric plays the guitar and drums really well. As for me I play the drum machine but I am starting to pick up guitar and bass so we’d like to do a member swap around on stage sometimes. Have Eric play keys, that sort of stuff.

BT: Do you have any projects coming soon? If so, how soon?

Kenneth: Very soon. We’ve got a song called “A Little Bit Funky” coming, but before we release this we put four songs on soundcloud to get some buzz– we got really good reception before we took it off and people stayed away from the usual comparisons.

Dave: We’re excited to work with new tones. That’s what really makes the biggest difference to me. It’s all about the tone.

BT: This was really fun! Thank you for taking the time out to speak with me. Safe travels back to Austin!

All: Thank you!

Last modified: August 22, 2017