Distant Cuzins

by Teri Barr
August 2019

Distant Cuzins

Distant Cuzins

On a recent hot summer night, I opened an electronic file I’d just received, sat down on the deck, and listened. It was the new Distant Cuzins album, “Songs about Girls,” and since I’ve loved their rowdy mix of punk-rock-pop in the past, I didn’t want to set any expectations.

In the end, I should’ve set the bar high, as the band delivered on everything I was hoping for, and even more! Several of the new songs are catchy, creative, and a great highlight of both their talent as songwriters, and musicians. A few take a different direction, with a slower tempo or a boppy ska. But in the end, the entire album is just really fun!

So, congrats to a band who has already been together longer than most, even though they’re just into their 20’s. Nic Tiermam sings and plays bass, and is at U.W. Stevens Point where he majors in music production and works two jobs. Sam Miess is on guitar and vocals, and attends Northern Michigan University with plans to get a doctorate in ecology. Sam also has two jobs, including being the NMU Mascot!! Ben Lokuta plays drums,and earlier this year quit college to pursue music full-time. Nate Krause is on guitar, working multiple jobs, and planning to attend Madison College. It’s a lot, but if you’ve already been together since middle school, and have won multiple awards, including Rockonsin while you are in high school, Distant Cuzins should be around for the long haul. And for the rest of us, I sure hope so. Sam and Ben took time to answer my questions before the new CD release show at High Noon Saloon, Madison, on Sunday, August 4th. It’s sure to be one you won’t want to miss.

Maximum Ink: Alright, Sam and Ben. Distant Cuzins has been a band since you guys were in middle school! Did you have influences that made you want to be a musician?
Ben Lokuta:
My dad’s interest in Neil Peart and Rush was passed on to me, and why I started playing drums. Sam and I were friends, and just started jamming after school and on weekends Since then, it’s more of a fusion direction for me with artists like Snarky Puppy, Dream Theater, Benny Greb, The Pineapple Thief.

Nic is influenced by the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl’s vocals, and has been singing for as long as he can remember.

Sam Miess:  Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run album initially inspired me to play guitar, and now I look for inspiration from an assortment of obscure up-and-coming bands with genres expanding from synthpop to hard punk.

Nate is influenced by 90’s/early 2000’s punk bands like Green Day; but also classic rock and modern punk bands like FIDLAR.

MI: All four of you are doing different things, and in different parts of the country since high school. How are you able to keep Distant Cuzins together?
Now that we’re all off in different corners, the only difference is that there isn’t the same level of rehearsal, so things during the show tend to be more about flying by the seat of your pants and making that work.

MI: Flying by the seat of your pants seems to suit all of you! Your shows are really high energy.
Hopefully, fun and entertaining as well!

SM: I don’t like to toot my own horn too much or anything, but I’ve seen a lot of shows and no band has as much energy on stage as us. We have had band members do backflips onto stage, play our guitars behind our heads while on top of tables, cymbals have been kicked over, blood lost, sweat sprayed. It’s a performance like nothing anyone’s seen in a long time. Our music is fun and we like it, but that’s only half of the picture. Our live shows are where it’s at.

MI: You’re next show is for your new album’s release. Technology means you don’t have to be in the same room to record your songs. How did it work for you?
Well, the title “Songs About Girls,” really captivates exactly what this album is. These songs were all written about my crazy, chaotic romantic life over these last couple of years, and mostly involving heartbreak and misery. The process by which these songs were written isn’t particularly organized or thought out. I’m always writing lyrics and songs down whenever inspiration strikes. But these seven were the songs I felt passionate about releasing. Once I’d have each one put together, I’d send a rough track out to the band, and we’d make it happen from there.

MI: Do you have some long-term goals for the band?
I like the fact that we seem to be spreading some catchy, well-crafted pop-influenced music that also rocks hard, and makes people smile. We need more of that right now. 

SM: I just hope to keep rock music fun, relevant, and accessible for the generation coming up. A tour would be cool, too.

MI: Finally, anything that may surprise people about you?
Lots of stage jumping! We’ve had a couple performers fall on stage, and Nate likes to jump over me whenever I’m rolling around on the ground. But these are occurrences at almost every show, so not rarities in the slightest.

BL: I mean, there’s a bunch of funny things that we’ve done in the past, but I always find the funniest part about us is that if we are together without our instruments, nobody would think that we are the sort of band we are. We definitely don’t fit any sort of normal image as far as a typical bunch of musicians would go.

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