Published on July 17th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Cusses’ Angel Bond is Frighteningly Optimistic
Savannah-based rock trio Cusses has been going full-steam ahead with their fuzz-toned, soulful punk ‘n’ bash since releasing a self-titled debut album last year. Lead singer (and occasional keyboardist) Angel Bond, drummer Brian Lackey, and guitarist Bryan Harder create a pretty huge sound on stage and on tape, despite their stripped-down instrumentation. Their mantra these days is, “Rock music is not dead.” And they want to keep it that way.
Cusses will be touring around the Southeast this summer and fall. This week, their ambitious Kickstarter campaign to fund their next studio sessions at Echo Mountain in Asheville will come to a close (they’re ultimate goal is $35,000). They hope to reach the U.K. for the first time in the fall.
Metronome Charleston caught up with Bond this week:
Metronome Charleston: Tell us about the band’s early developmental period. How did you initially get a band sound going?
Angel Bond: It kind of naturally came together. Bryan and Brian played together years ago in a punk rock band when they were going to SCAD [Savannah School of Art and Design]. Brian [the drummer] and I moved to Los Angeles together four years ago, but we came back to Savannah soon after that. They started playing with each other again, just for old-time’s sake, and they needed a singer. They asked me to join in, but I dragged my feet because Brian is my boyfriend, and I didn’t want to be in a band with my boyfriend and ruin things. I wanted them to have their guy time.
Metronome Charleston: You were hesitant but willing?
Angel Bond: I finally did sit in with them, and we came up with a mess of songs within the first practice. We knew hat we had really great chemistry right away.
Metronome Charleston: Was being a lead singer in a loud rock band a new experience for you?
Angel Bond: It was sort of new. I’d learned to play the saxophone and done a little choir work here and there. I used to live in New Orleans where I sang for tips and stuff. I had not done anything to this extreme — nothing with a full-time band like this. This is the first time I’ve given myself the chance to have a band full-time and give it my all.
Metronome Charleston: There’s a feeling of security when you’re on stage with an instrument, beside or behind other bandmates. As a lead singer, however, there’s with nothing between you and the crowd but a small microphone. Do you find that it can be a vulnerable thing?
Angel Bond: Extremely vulnerable. I’ve always struggled with stage fright. That’s a little secret of mine. And that’s why it took me so long to start singing in a band. I always loved to dance growing up, and I had no problem dancing at clubs and stuff, but when it came to singing, it’s a whole different ballgame. Bryan and Brian are both so intense and energetic on stage, and I want to match it. I used to get sick before each show, but it comes quite naturally now. I just tell myself, “I don’t care what anybody thinks of me,” and after the first note is drawn, I just whack out. Nothing’s choreographed. It just happens.
Metronome Charleston: Lyrically, what are most of your songs about
Angel Bond: I sing about pretty personal stuff that means a lot to me. Life experiences from my past. I do sort of put myself into a little trance and let myself feel those strong emotions. Sometimes I’m choking back some very deep emotions, but I feel very relieved by the end of each show. I’m thankful that I have this band and this outlet for that. It’s a very positive way to get through your things.
Metronome Charleston: The tone fits the mood and dynamic of the music well. And there’s a hint of perseverance and positivity where you’d least expect it, too.
Angel Bond: For me, I think the first record was really about kind of getting through my past, you know? Getting through it in a positive format. I know some of the lyrics are a little dark, but I want people to know that no matter how bad things have been or what you’re going through, you can always get through it. It’s all about your perception and reaction. Some of the dark mood of the album relates to the name of the band. Cusses are tormented animals or persons, and I think we all are a little tormented inside. And this is our therapy.
Metronome Charleston: It seems like there’s a dark sense of optimism going on. Does that translate easily to audiences in various venues?
Angel Bond: You know, we try to put everything that we have into every show. We love the smaller, more intimate shows the most. We’ve enjoyed playing big clubs, early all-ages shows, and outdoor gigs, but the small club shows are usually the best ones because you can connect and see how people react. If it’s the right environment, you can put yourself out there and have a positive experience.
Metronome Charleston: There are elements of garage rock, punk, blues, soul, and modern pop in much of your music. Are you and your bandmates worried about categorization at all?
Angel Bond: I love mixing up genres, because it attracts all different types of people. We sometime earn new fans we didn’t expect. You’ve got to take those opportunities to reach different people. The kids in Savannah are all pretty open to different styles. Same thing in Charleston. There’s a great community here that’s very supportive — especially the college-aged kids who can’t get into all of the clubs.
Metronome Charleston: Defining one’s sound is usually one of the hardest tasks for any band.
Angel Bond: We’ve tried to come to a unified decision, but we have different opinions. We say it’s like a modern throwback to yesteryear rock ‘n’ roll. We all come from the roots of rock ‘n’ roll, but everyone has different influences. Bryan the guitarist is into the heavy stuff. I grew up playing sax and listing to my dad’s Motown and soul records. I have a huge soul influence. Brian the drummer is into electronic music and different types of punk. All together, it’s just honest rock ‘n’ roll. You’ll just have to see us live.
Cusses shares the stage with Atlanta’s Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun and local band Brave Baby at the Tin Roof on Sat. July 20. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. See cussesmusic.com for more.
Top photo by Andrew Brodhead.
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