Halloween is the best time of year- especially when you're a New England native. Nothing speaks to me quite like crunchy leaves, various shades of orange and green, and a good jump-scare. Another reason October tends to be my favorite month of the year is because great music seems to come out of the woodwork around this time. Combine all of these elements together and you have Cousin Earth, The Mary Jane Jones, and The Knots Costume Party coming up on October 27th here at Gateway City Arts. All three bands are ready to bring the heat as the air is getting crisper by the day. I first saw headlining band, Cousin Earth, at Wormtown Music Festival a few years back. My stand out memory of the performance was the contagious energy they brought as they ran around the crowd performing a Queen song. I've seen them again since, and they truly bring unique sounds and experiences to their shows. Cousin Earth recently took some time to give us some insight into who they are and what we can expect for this show.
Hi, Cousin Earth! Thank you so much for taking some time to answer some questions for our blog, we are thrilled that your show is one of our Halloween celebrations this year. We're really looking forward to October 27th. Why don't you start by telling us who you are and what you each play!
Thanks for having us! Cousin Earth is a 5-piece rock and jam outfit that features tiny and unusual instruments. Joe Calfa is on ukulele, guitar and vocals, Corey J. Feldman is on ukulele bass and vocals, Terry Brennan is on keys, toys and lead vocals, Melissa Raye is on percussion, toys, and lead vocals, and Nate "So-Hot-He's" Searing is on drums.
I've actually seen you guys perform twice, once at Strangecreek and once at Bishop's Lounge. I love the energy you bring to your performances. How did you guys all start playing music together?
It kind of started with craigslist in New York City where I (Corey) found Nate while working on my own original project. Nate knew Joe from a Frank Zappa ensemble they were in during their college years. I knew Terry from our time waiting tables at Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square (gotta make the dough somehow!). And Melissa is the newest member of the band who joined us this year. We found her through mutual friends in the city, and she really blew us away with her voice and her vibe. About 6 years ago, I was working on Mercury Landing, a progressive jam band and most of these guys were involved. Joe started a fun ukulele side project that began as something very casual. At some point, he plugged the uke into his guitar rig, and we were like, "Whooooaaa!" As we saw the overwhelming positive response to this, the two bands sort of melded into what we now know as Cousin Earth.
Cousin Earth is from Brooklyn, but I have noticed that you play all over. How have you guys built such a great relationship with the Western Mass music scene? Do you think there any defining characteristics about this music community in relation to the one in the city?
Bishop's Lounge has been a home-away-from-home for us. I believe it all began with a battle-of-the-bands for a spot on the Rock-n-Roll Resort festival about 5 years ago. That was our first venture out there. The RnR Resort has been really good to us, and we always bring the party when we go there. We love that fam. We can also thank Force from the Alchemystics who just continued booking us at Bishop's. And of course, the crowd and the music scene in Northampton and Western Mass is like a little musical oasis. People are just cool, artsy, and appreciative of good music! New York City is over-saturated with bands, music, and... well... everything. We love traveling to smaller cities and towns where the focus is more central like in Northampton.
I think your instrumentation is super unique. I know Joey used to study under Gabriel of Consider The Source (one of my very favorite bands) how has that influenced your playing? Do you ever play together?
We have indeed! We had Gabe sit in with us at the Peace of Mind Festival, and actually our first set of youtube videos features Gabe and John from CTS. You can check out a "Klezmerlele" tune with Joe and Gabe, as well as the classic Star Wars medley with Joe, Nate, Gabe and John. In our minds, those videos mark the beginning for our band.
Some of you have played in Zappa cover bands and some in 80s cover bands, are there any specific artists that you feel influence or inform your sound? What about other non-musical influences?
Yeah, we've all dabbled in the cover band thing as it's another source of income. Joe occasionally does traditional ukulele band shows. Nate and I have been rocking Uncle Ebenezer (A Tribute to Phish) for years as well. Our influences are pretty different amongst the bandmates though. Terry has more of a punk and underground influence than the rest of us. Melissa digs on pop music, and really likes Adele. Zappa of course is up there, along with Phish. Joe will claim Hendrix at the top of his list. Nate, I think is the most well-rounded, listening to more music than anyone I know. And for me, I am into Umphrey's, Tito Puente, the Cat Empire (amazing Australian band), and much more. We all have our quirks, and we're always trying to influence each other,
In terms of non-musical influences, we are all over the place, though most of us can agree that Rick and Morty has been our favorite media sensation as of late. I'd say video games have also been a serious influence. I'm a Nintendo baby at heart.
This year you welcomed the release of your album, 'Human Music'. How did this release differ from your 2015 self-titled EP?
Human Music is a way bigger idea. Imagine us as aliens that studied your Earthly music, and attempted to recreate it from our own perspective. Every song is different and represents a different aspect of humanity. The EP, on the other hand, is something we put out so that the world could hear us immediately (in 2015 of course). It's less cohesive, but it was a great place from which to start. We took our time with Human Music, making calculated decisions. Also Human Music has a lot more profanity... mostly because that's more human.
Do you have a favorite song off of 'Human Music'? Have you started writing your next album?
I think we all have different favorite songs. Personally, I love Super Fun Laser Beams. It's the danciest song, and hearkens the electronica side of what we do. It features the tap-style ukulele work by Joe, and it has some really nice soundscapes. I also give Capricorn on the Cob a close 2nd place. That's the album closer and it has the coolest jam in my opinion.
We have quite a bit of material for another album actually, but we haven't gotten into the studio yet. Soon though!!! You can expect to hear Capricorn's sibling tune, "Softshell Crab Nebula."
Joining you on October 27th are The Mary Jane Jones and The Knots, what makes these two bands a great fit for your costume party show?
First and foremost, the music is awesome. We have rocked out with both bands before, and they are all friends. We know they will bring the ruckus, and we are really looking forward to a great time. We have found that playing with bands we befriend usually works out. At the very least, we all get to have fun with one another. And we like to hang out and enjoy good music. That's what the Knots and the Mary Jane Jones do!
Is there a mantra or mission statement that you feel goes along with your perspective as a band?
Hahaha! We have a few actually. 1) Brace your childhood, cause we are going to kick you in it! Nostalgic themes, covers, and medleys are a forte of ours. We just added the Pac-man theme to our repertoire, so yeaaaah. 2) Show up early and stay late: we try to do this whenever we can. That's how you make friends! 3) Gardening is important. 4) Window first! Which is basically a reference to being careful when unloading our gear. 5) Be your best you! Not every show is great. Not every day is great! But we support each other and we try to put our best foot forward on stage and off. That's all we can ask of each other.
What can we look forward to from Cousin Earth in the near future?
More shows, more festivals, more music! We are working on breaking out of the Northeast in 2019, and we have some really great things in the works. I'm not saying anything specific yet, but keep your eye out for us, and keep sharing the music!
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! We can't wait for your show on October 27th!
We're psyched... oh and it's a rainbow-themed party, so dress colorfully.
Don't miss this night of grooving tunes and big sounds. Dress in your colorful best and get your tickets today!
Learn more about Cousin Earth here.
Learn about The Mary Jane Jones here.
Learn about The Knots here.
To purchase tickets for this event follow this link.
To browse all of Gateway City Arts upcoming shows visit our website.