When AMPLIFY. launched in December of 2016, the first band that was officially profiled on the site was The Cuckoos. Now, one year (and two months) later, AMPLIFY is circling back to interview them on all they’ve accomplished over the course of 2017 (and as a hint, it was a lot).
The Austin-based psych-rock quartet (comprised of Kenneth Frost, Dave North, Eric Ross, and Cole Koenning) released a completely masterful self-titled LP last fall. Each and every track, in its own way, showcases what is one of The Cuckoo’s undeniable strengths: their ability to synthesize a myriad of differential elements in a cohesive manner that is completely intriguing to the ear. The pure innovation and artistic savviness it embodies is almost transcendental in the sense that it elevates and places them into their own creative league. Art is inherently polarizing, yes, but the music of The Cuckoos contains such a clear attention to detail and nuance that is an indisputably impressive artistic entity.
A particular track of theirs that exemplifies this is “You’re Gonna Work For Us Until The Day You Die.” The immaculate nexus of musicality and societal awareness is one that, until now, has been relatively uncharted creative territory since Pink Floyd released The Wall. The music and lyrics are not only incredibly well-crafted as their own entities, but combined act as equalized agents of communication that both excel at conveying the suffocating sensation society (and its toxic habit of normalizing conformity) can have on the human race. The track is completely visceral, and commands the attention of the ear and mind alike. Akin to every track within The Cuckoos’ discography, it is so much more than merely a listening experience. It’s metaphysical, and it’s intellectual – the hallmarks of an immersive and heightened creative work.
And now, we’ll let the band take it from here:
AMPLIFY: AMPLIFY. last covered The Cuckoos just over a year ago, and since then you guys have gone on to accomplish a ton – including the release of a mini album! Tell us a little more about the band’s 2017.
Eric: 2017 was an awesome year. We played a lot of shows around different parts of Texas for the first part of the year, went to the U.K. in June, New York in July, Mexico in December. 2017 was focused on getting reach outside of Austin. It’s been a lot of fun and a very interesting experience. We also signed a distro deal with Republic of Music, and they helped us release the mini-album.
AMPLIFY: How would you articulate The Cuckoos’ artistic growth?
Eric: Each member of the Cuckoos has separate influences and when we play together, all of that comes out and blends into one sound, which is the sound we have when we play live. We continue to get tighter and more telepathic with our ideas with each coming show, so we’re excited to see the way the shape of the band evolves.
AMPLIFY: Let’s say a movie is being made about The Cuckoos. Which actors would you pick to portray the band onscreen, and why?
Eric: I want Jaden Smith to play me and I really don’t know why. What can I say, he’s an icon. Ryan Gosling could be Dave, ‘cause the guitar player has to be damn sexy in the movie. I think Cole should be played by Russell Brand ‘cause I think it’d be funny to have Cole with a British accent. And Kenneth would be played by Michael Cera.
AMPLIFY: In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of the creative process?
Cole: Having created something and being able to share it with others who enjoy it.
AMPLIFY: What does authentic artistry mean or look like to you?
Cole: An authentic artist is someone who does it entirely to please themselves. Doesn’t matter if no one sees it or likes it as long as it makes you happy.
AMPLIFY: One of the tracks I personally was most intrigued by on your latest album was “You’re Gonna Work For Us Until The Day You Die.” How was it conceptually conceived?
Kenneth: I came up with the chords a while back and we started jamming it instrumentally at practice. One day I was in class at community college and I had it stuck in my head. And I was really thinking about school and dropping out and how much I didn’t like it. So I wrote the words down and got up and left and walked home and un-enrolled myself online.
AMPLIFY: Is there a certain album or song you think is totally underrated? If so, what is it and why should people be listening to it?
Dave: One of the first things that come to mind is a band called Morphine. They’re one of my favorite groups and they’re comprised of a two-string bass double sax and drums and hearing how they interact with each other and how poetic and justified the song writing is, it’s hard to overlook. Definitely one of my favorite oddball bands for sure. Also for the guitar heads, you gotta see and hear Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott’s. That album changed the way I think about guitar as well as having a profound effect on my general attitude on playing live.
AMPLIFY: If you could change one aspect about the music industry as it is today, what would it be and why?
Dave: I still haven’t made up my mind on this industry. It seems like now posting on the internet has a greater effect on people rather than meeting in person and making a bond between the listener and the artist.
AMPLIFY: Which aspect of your work are you most proud of?
Kenneth: Our progress as a live act. We’re always practicing and working on stuff, but I think we are a force to be reckoned with on stage.
AMPLIFY: Lastly, what does 2018 have in store for The Cuckoos?
Kenneth: More music. More shows. More traveling. 😉
And there you have it.