Angel and Cusses are two words not commonly read in the same sentence. Angel Bond, lead singer for Cusses vacations on a breezy Charleston, South Carolina afternoon. “We are visiting family and recuperating after a wonderfully crazy tour.”
Cusses is a three piece band from Savannah, Georgia. Brian Lackey/drums, Bryan Harder/guitar and Bond/vocals make up this fiery and vigorous threesome. Known for their energetic, upbeat and surprising stage shows have only been performing as a band for a little over three years. “Our first show was February 13 2010. However the guys had been practicing a bit before that.” Lackey and Harder ironically the drummer knew each other and played together years ago in college. “Brian and I moved from LA to Savannah and they started playing again for old time sake and they asked me to join the band as the singer. I didn’t really want to at first because the drummer is my boyfriend and I was like no way,” she says laughing. They were messing around for a few months and I decided to sing with them one day after they kept asking me. Within about 30 minutes we had written eight or ten songs and I knew then we had something special. The chemistry worked really well, however the two of them alone have an amazing chemistry. It really brought out a different side of me and I jumped in. As for our name, the guys wanted a name a bit tongue and cheek and the fact we’re in the South we wanted something that no one else had. Something that people would assume that it was about this but it really wasn’t. We were just joking around with the name and laughing about it and said let’s see if it sticks and it did. It’s kind of a play on words and that’s what we wanted to do. It’s kind of a rock n roll name and no one else had it, so that’s basically how we arrived at Cusses.
Harder is from New Jersey and Lackey hails from North Carolina but met one another while attending SCAD in Savannah. “I have lived every where. I moved a lot growing up as my mom lived in Boston and my dad lived in the South, so I’m half yankee half southern. Brian and I met in the south and moved to LA together to just try it out. After a few years we decided we wanted to move closer to our families. Brian spoke highly of Savannah and I was bound to give it a try and that’s how it all came together here.” While living in LA, Bond and Lackey built sets in art departments and dabbled in making some fun computer music here and there it wasn’t anything conducive to what they really wanted to do. “We are always asked about our genre of music and I really don’t think it was anything that we sat down and thought about. I think it’s because we all come from different backgrounds musically. We all have a really great love for old school, yesteryear rock and roll. I have a really huge Motown influence and I grew up playing sax, my dad was a drummer, and I was brought up on rock n roll. I love soul, I really just love it all.” Harder was into bands like The Melvins and liked a lot of different music as well. Their styles and influences came together kind of differently and just fell into place. “We like calling Harder the Riffmaster because he is just a plethora of riffs. When he comes to practice, we wind up writing three or four songs at each practice, it’s really insane. We have so many songs on hold and have created such a catalog of music that we will never run out. We wanted a sound of something classic and it just is what it is. Our shows do have a definite punk rock feel, it’s very upbeat and I call it dance rock and the guys laugh at me for that. It does have a huge punk rock undertone because the guys used to play in a punk rock band. I think it has a mix of all kinds of music and that’s what the fans like.”
Cusses is a DIY band and believes in doing everything themselves. “It takes a lot of time and commitment. We started our own label, we handled our own distribution and I booked the entire tour myself. We spend a good 8 to 12 hours a day on a daily basis and it’s something you have to do as a DIY band. There are a lot of bands on labels that have huge teams working for them, but we wanted to be a DIY until we partnered with someone that could help us reach more people. I do think it was a great experience to learn how it all works and you are more aware of everything going on. As of right now, we have our hands in everything we do. We have no management or have anyone helping us with anything. Needless to say we eventually want that, because our workload is becoming more and more as we become more popular. For us to go as far as we would like to go, we would need a great team to assist us and we ultimately would love that and hope to have that in the near future.”
As for their music, what you hear is what you get. If you hear it on the album, you hear it live. “We don’t use any backtracks so everything you see and hear performed live is all us. Harder plays both bass and guitar line at the same time, he has an ABY switch that he flips back and forth just on his guitar. So really we’re just a two piece plus a vocalist and it’s really amazing how much sound and volume comes from just the two of them.” A collaboration in writing brings their music to life. “Our catalog of music is so extensive and it usually starts with a riff or a drum beat and comes together really fast. I wrote most of the songs on the first album but I’m letting Brian in more on that avenue,” giggles Bond. I find that some of my favorite songs are the ones that Brian and I have co-written. I feel it’s a bonus to co-write with your boyfriend at times, as he will know what I’m trying to say and maybe afraid to say it. That’s how well he knows me. Being the only female and the lead singer has been good. Ironically I battled with stage-fright most of my life. I wanted to be a singer but also didn’t want to take the stage. I’m a huge humanitarian, helping in the Middle East and volunteering in New Orleans after Katrina. Being in New Orleans for a good year I eventually ran out of money and had the singing on the back burner for a really long time and decided I would try it. I began singing for tips and no matter what corner I turned, music always came back to me. Just like this band, it’s something that I am able to do full time now and I’m very grateful , appreciative and at peace with myself. The music business is definitely a mans world and a lot will assume a great deal about you being a female. Most sound guys or bands will not give you the time of day until they see us perform. I don’t care how I dress or what I look like. I just want to be comfortable and simple and be more about the music. We only do our original music. We have only covered two songs, maybe three. I believe it was “We Got The Beat” by the Go Gos and “Watch Her Strut” by Bob Segar and one Foo Fighters song. We are always working on our music, so we would rather share our own music than do a cover. What you hear on the album is always the three of us. We have had Andy Hull who sings for Manchester Orchestra was our producer and will be again. He gives us suggestions and ideas, but it’s all us.”
Just having finished a long tour, Bond shares another interesting story of helping out fellow touring bands. “It was crazy booking our three month tour an playing markets and areas we had never played, but we learned a lot. Brian and I had a place that we lived and practiced in and eventually turned it into an all ages underground venue and began hosting a lot of college and touring bands. I became ambassador to so many bands that come through to reach out to venue owners and talent buyers mainly for the reason there are so many venues in Savannah and all over really, that never get back to you. 75% of the people you reach out to, bands and venues will never get back to you. We had done a couple of runs up and down the East Coast, but this was our first national tour and it was long tour. We did over 65 dates in ten weeks. It was grueling but you get into the momentum of it and it feels really good, then you have one day off a week. We were very happy for the attendance at each of the shows and I feel it was due to us doing the booking and promoting, along with some of the other bands we played with in each town. Our fans are great and were very receptive. We have a really intense live show and I think it’s one of the best things about us and one of the sacred things left in this business are live shows. We have a couple of small dates on the East Coast again and I am even working on some UK cities. We are hoping with the Kickstarter going through we will be touring the UK in October. We have a even told we will be receiving a bit of airplay on the BBC on a few stations and we are really excited about the future. We look to having another U.S. tour next spring.”
To get airplay on MTV is something every band across the world would love to add to the list of their accomplishments. Cusses submitted their video for Worst Enemy to MTV online, but it was the video for Don’t Give In that brought them airplay on MTV. “We put our heart and soul into that video, we did everything for that video from the art design to the characters. We decided to submit it also and a couple of weeks later we were notified by MTV that it was being chosen to be submitted to the MTV University Freshman Contest. It was a two week voting process for five videos which were chosen to be voted upon. The winner received rotation on MTV and it was really cool. In fact MTV notified us the DAY the contest started. It was surreal and to have it happen after Brian and I worked so hard and to see your work on tv was a very sweet moment,” says Bond.
The band invested time in a Kickstarter program to help with the cost of the new album. “It’s a crazy platform to put yourself out there. We done it ourselves and put ourselves in a world of debt, it’s been over a year since the last album and we want to keep the momentum going. Kickstarter gets the fans involved in the entire process. We’re doing private parties, picture books, skateboards and lots of stuff I’ve designed. We wanted to give different options and price ranges for everyone. If we don’t meet our goal…I really don’t even want to think in the negative way; so if we don’t meet the goal I know we’ll have another avenue to go. I’m keeping the faith and I know we set a high goal but I believe there are some big ole’ angels out there that are going to swoop down and bless us.” At the time of the interview, there were six days left for pledges to be made. At the end of the program, they hit and overshot their goal with pledges from loyal fans. The band was extremely excited and posted on their Facebook page, “Holy Moly!!! You all did it! We are about to rock out but we had to give a quick thank you to you all! Can’t even believe this right now! Thank you from the very bottom and tops of our sweaty hearts! Xxx”
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