YM&C- Coo Coo Birds SXSW Interview

Not too long ago I was informed that Coo Coo Birds, a rock band in San Francisco and some awesome friends of mine, were heading to the South by Southwest Music and Arts Festival…in style.

What do I mean ‘in style’? I mean they drove there in their psychedelic school bus/traveling venue. Of course, I wanted to go along. I put all my ducks in a row to tag along with these guys come March so I could write some awesome material for YM&C on the road. Unfortunately, a job opportunity came my way and I couldn’t join the boys on their journey to the center of the musical world (of America).

Lucky for us all, Nicole Salmeri, my dear friend and talented photographer went with them, as she always does. (You might remember Nicole when we teamed up for our American Steel post.) Nicole directed a four-person camera crew sponsored by GoPro to film and photographed the band on their tour to SXSW. Check out her photos and videos!

Once the Coo Coo Birds arrived in Austin, they headed out every night on the bus and played in the streets where listeners and party-ers went wild. Ryan Zweng, drummer and singer, talks to us:

Ashley: Describe the Coo Coo Birds in three words:
Ryan Zweng: Loud, Authentic, Next.

A: As a musician, where do you pull your inspiration from?
Ryan: The risky, lavish life experiences we each three seek out in our own unique ways. Music that was made before 1994. Our present poverty, and increasing delusions of grandeur.

A: What was your favorite city on this trip?
Ryan: Little Rock, Arkansas- hands down. Chris King- our promoter down there- is a saint, a fan, and also one of the most powerful club owners in town. We played his club Stickyz twice, and lived like kings the whole time.

A: Tell us a road story.
Ryan: There are too many to tell. But in general we were all surprised to find our expedition traveling under the freshly coined term: “Psychedelic Immunity.” Ergo, in cities across the nation- where we expected to be crucified as “dirty hippies” or the like- we were continually surprised to find people upholding us as some sort of Psychedelic, Rock n Roll Heroes.

The key term here is : “ROCK N ROLL”… not “indie rock” or “folk band”; we would have been hung for being that. But not Rock n Roll baby! Its so obvious now, to me and the crew, how badly this nation is crying for a real band, who really don’t give a sh*t about how things are “supposed” to get done; how music is “supposed” to sound in 2013.

Down in the south of Texas, we had just finished polishing off the rest of our “contraband” a few minutes before hitting the massive Drug and Immigration check point just north of the Mexican Border. The dogs could smell us from the back of the line; barking like fiends on our left and right. Our drivers were smart, they knew the magic words by then. I heard him say “rock n roll” at least 4 times in a 30 second barrage of sentences, in various forms; “rock n roll band” on a “rock n roll tour” playing “rock n roll music”…. etc. The officer didn’t even budge; didn’t even acknowledge the shepherds screaming to him at his heels, or fellow officers foaming at their mouths for a proper search.

“Rock n Roll?” he said. “Whats the name of y’alls band? Imma look y’all up!”… and if he was anything like the rest of the people we met out there, he probably did. They are probably blasting the Coo Coo Birds first LP at every check point in south Texas by now.

A: What do you love about SXSW as a musician and a listener?
Ryan: For a musician it’s heaven. Every nook and cranny blisters with excitement and vibe; and we basically slammed through the middle of it giving mobile bus concerts all over town, picking up anyone who wanted to go to another level. NY Times called us a highlight of Day 2.

A: Did you see any other good bands out there?
Ryan: We hung out with the Mother Hips a lot- picked them up from the airport in the TweetBusso even. Those guys are like our mentors, big uncles to us or such. We hang with them, listen to what they have to tell us, listen to their sets, and inevitably grow as musicians, performers and personalities in our own right. We are all looking forward to making the scene at their Hipnic Festival this summer; going to be a riot.


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