For a relatively new independent band, Savannah rock trio Cusses is making waves without relying on a label. Thats not uncommon in todays digital landscape, but Cusses managed to have both of its videos picked up by MTV.com, MTV Europe, and MTV UK. In January, the clip for Dont Give In won MTVUs The Freshman and was added to rotation.
Thanks in part to those spots, the band which plays a free show at Snug Harbor Tuesday has made considerable headway online, yet its approach to music and visuals is particularly old-school.
We wanted a rock n roll record in the vein of yesteryear rock. No bells and whistles, just what you see is what you get, says drummer Brian Lackey, who attended Savannah College of Art & Design in 1992 and moved back four years ago to play music with old band mate Bryan Harder.
Lots of bands today are playing to click tracks and backing tracks. We wanted to make a yesteryear girl-fronted easy-play album. Not one song rules the whole record. Every song complements each other.
The result is a rocking self-titled debut thats drawn comparisons to Yeah Yeah Yeahs and 80s heavyweights Pat Benatar and Siouxsie & the Banshees.
While those comparisons are apt, Cusses doesnt sound quite like anyone else. Its music is angry and emotional, dark and heavy, driven and interesting. The trio can create memorable hooks without losing any thematic weight or musical depth.
Vocalist Angel Bond says the group drew more on music that was part of its members makeup than whats current. Their early individual influences range from classic rock to the Melvins and Quicksand to Motown and African music.
When we were writing, we purposely didnt listen to anybody else. We didnt want it to influence our sound. Hopefully, we were writing really true to what we felt or grew up with, instead of what was present on todays radio, says Bond, who was apprehensive about joining a band with her boyfriend (Lackey). I fought it, but it clicked. We came up with like eight songs in 30 minutes.
Lackey and Harder, who played in local bands together in college, work so quickly they decided to forgo a bass player.
We tried it with a bass player and it didnt work fast at all. We love to crank it out as fast as possible, Lackey says. Instead, Harder has rigged his own set-up. We have a switch with a signal generator that lowers the signal of the guitar, so it mimics the bass sound. Hes pretty much a scientist when it comes to that stuff.
He says its common to see technical geeks nerding out watching what hes doing on stage.
He credits Harders guitar work with shaping the groups sound.
(It) has a huge influence on the sound. Hes a melody maker. Then Angel has this melody over top that kind of changes it, Lackey says.
All three contribute to each others parts, which Lackey says gives its material the stamp of the entire band, not just one primary writer and arranger.
I get to hear a lyric that I came up with that Angel sings, or Bryan hears a drumbeat he wants in one part, he says.
A trio works for the bands chemistry, as well as economically.
Nowadays, adds Lackey. Its hard to pay a band.