A do-it-yourself punk band? Savannah's Cusses back in town after 56-town tour

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comMay 23, 2013 

There is little that the three members of Savannah's hard-charging punk trio, Cusses, don't do themselves.

Everything from booking shows to handling publicity and promotion to selling merchandise is handled by lead singer Angel Bond, drummer Brian Lackey and guitarist Bryan Harder. The band's self-titled debut album was even released on their own label, HA! Records.

So it's hardly surprising that Cusses took a similarly do-it-yourself approach to a recently concluded 56-show, cross-country tour that included performances at some of rock music's most hallowed venues such as The Middle East in Boston and Los Angeles' famed Viper Room, which the band sold out.

"It was a long tour but totally worth it and ranged the full spectrum of emotion," Bond said. "We were weekend warriors for a while ... but we had just put out our first record, it was getting some play on college radio and it seemed like good timing to get our there and tour properly. We didn't want people to forget about us and see the live show. I don't think you can really grasp what we're trying to do until you see us live."

Some of that buzz was generated by the band winning MTVU's "The Freshmen," a contest that helps smaller, relatively unknown acts get their videos in heavy rotation on the network. Cusses' video for "Don't Give In," a vignette directed by Bond, Lackey and friend Joe Page, won a round of the contest early this year and has nearly 100,000 views on YouTube.

"Something we learned pretty quickly is that when you're playing towns you've never been to, you never really know what to expect as far as how many people are going to make it out to the show," Bond said. "Playing places like the Viper Room and Seattle and Portland were amazing. People were singing along, and we were doing radio interviews where people were really stoked that we were there. That was a great feeling."

The band is playing a homecoming show tonight at the Dollhouse in Savannah alongside fellow local acts Grimey, Crazy Bag Lady and Makeout Club.

Bond discusses the Savannah music scene, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their musical influences.

Question. What bands do you guys get compared to most often?

Answer. It really has been all over the map. Everything from Metric to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I guess because we're three-piece rock band with a chick lead singer. To be honest, I've never listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I've only ever heard "Maps," but people tell us that we sound like they did when they were young and punk. We also get Pat Benatar, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Metric, Sleigh Bells, The Joy Formidable and a bunch of other bands.

Q. Do the three of you have similar tastes in music?

A. We all kind of love old rock and grew up on the music of the '80s but we like a bunch of different stuff, which makes our sound so different. We like stuff like The Melvins, to electronic music, to Fugazi and Pink Floyd, Yes and The Who. I'm personally a huge Motown fan and love old soul music. So we come from very different places musically, which makes playing together so fun.

Q. The band plans to use Kickstarter to fund the recording and release of the next two records, why go that route?

A. Some of it is about wanting to maintain control of our music and what we do. We don't want to get a record deal and then lose control of our sound and the way that we work. Also, we're broke as anyone else. As much as we hate the idea of asking our fans for money, we already put ourselves in debt to do what we've done so far so this seemed like the best route.

Q. What are some of the perks donors can expect?

We'll invite people into our homes, make them dinners, have them come into the studio with us as we record the album. We really want to be able to share this experience with them.

Q. What do you make of Savannah's underground music scene?

A. It's a really great incubator. I've lived all over the country -- Philadelphia, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York -- and none of those places weren't as welcoming as Savannah. This is such a bad-ass community and so full of artists in the scene. There are so many bands doing so many different kinds of music. There are bigger bands like Baroness ... and then there is a little folk-like scene. It's really great. The best thing about Savannah is that the people will support anything if they know your heart is in it, and you're willing to work really hard.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

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