Q&A with Kenneth Frost of The Cuckoos: "I’m Just Really Excited to Share What We Have Planned"
Austin-based psych band, The Cuckoos are ending 2017 with a bang! With the re-release of their debut self-titled EP out now, the young quartet are looking toward the future, but they certainly haven't forgotten their roots, which seem to be deep in 60's rock 'n roll.
The band have plans to end 2017 with a couple of shows in Mexico before returning home to start writing once more, and if their debut release is any indicator, whatever they do next is sure to dive deeper into their timeless, retro sound.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about The Cuckoos for any readers who might not be familiar?
Well, The Cuckoos consists of Cole Koenning on drums, Eric Ross on bass, Dave North on guitar, and me, Kenneth Frost, on keyboards and vocals. We’ve been playing for about 4 years or so—1 year in this current lineup. We just played some shows over in England this summer and are dropping our deluxe EP at the end of the month. We make rock and roll music with elements of psychedelic funk, blues, and a bit of everything else.
Your music sounds a bit like going back in time. What artists first inspired you when you guys were just forming and working out a sound for yourselves?
The Beatles, Joy Division, The Doors, and Pink Floyd were some of our earliest influences. Everybody’s been on a nostalgia kick lately--we were listening to lots of Tame Impala in the earlier days as well. They kind of made me feel like I could make old school rock music in modern times, so they were a huge influence.
How have those influences grown and evolved as you have grown as musicians?
Over time we’ve just listened to/discovered more music. With the addition of Cole and Eric, we listen to just about everything between the four of us. I’m really into Kate Bush and Prince right now. Also Connan Mockasin and Soft Hair. I feel like i’ve been exposed to a lot of music the past couple of years, even since when we recorded this EP about a year ago. I guess that’s made me want to make universal music and gives me the desire to explore as many genres and styles I can while still retaining our own sound. Like all artists we strive for originality. We want to make our mark in the world of music. That being said, i feel like a lot of our influences show in our music, and we’re proud of that as well. A lot of the music we’ve listened to has changed our lives and impacted us, so hopefully that shows.
What draws you to this more classic sound and mentality rather than what many modern indie/rock artists are creating right now?
I think there was some really good music in the past and some elements in our music remind people of an older time. It’s comforting and familiar and people enjoy it. I’ve never had a desire to make music with the intent of it “sounding like it came out of the 60s” or anything. In the earlier days I was just discovering bands from the late 60s and I feel like our earlier music sounded a lot more old school because of that, but we’ve changed a lot over the past four years. I think there is so much cool new technology for musicians to use these days. I love electronic music and funky disco tracks. I love romantic, stripped down ballads. I love synth driven new wave and heavy rock and roll. I feel like all of that has started to show over time with songs like New Sunrise and A Little Bit Funky, and it will show even more so on the new material we’ve been working on. I feel like I don't want to get wrapped up in sounding like a throwback band. Sounding old school is groovy, but I would like to just make a big amalgamation of everything I love in music. Old School meets New School, Neo-retro, psychedelic funky rock and roll. I’m just really excited to share what we have planned because I really feel like we’re starting to evolve into our own unique style.
You just released your debut EP through Republic of Music, who you recently signed a deal with. What made them the right avenue for you guys as a band?
They saw one of our shows in London this summer and offered to help us distribute the new EP, so we were really excited. We’ve kind of been doing everything on our own up to this point so I’m looking forward to seeing how things go.
What can listeners expect from the songs on the EP?
I think they’re pretty moody sounding, some are pretty chilled out, some are pretty high energy rock and roll. We added an additional song called A Little Bit Funky to bring a lil bit of funk to the table. There are lots of guitars and wacky synths and organs. The songs are all about moving to a new city, falling in and out of love, and trying to grow up I suppose.
Along with the announcement, you also recently released “New Sunrise”. What inspired this song?
I think friends I met when I moved to Austin inspired the first half a lot. Just times we had over the summer—waking up in the morning at 19 and just feeling good about life. The second half was kind of an impromptu thing. I had just gotten out of a 4 year relationship with my highschool sweetheart and Prince died, so it was a rough day in the studio. But I’m happy with how the song came out. It feels very real and personal to me.
Do you have any other big plans for the rest of 2017 or beginning of 2018?
We are going to Mexico in December to play some shows, and we’ve started recording new material for next year. I don’t know when, but I want to get it out as soon as we can because I’m really excited about the way things are coming together. We’ve got a ton of material so stay tuned.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?