Distant Cuzins

Distant Cuzins, a band from Oregon that was named the top high school garage-rock band in the state last year, is celebrating the release of its second album Friday at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. Band members, from left: Nate Krause, Ben Lokuta, Nic Tierman and Sam Miess.

Oregon’s own Distant Cuzins, a band whose sound has evolved from an experimental “metal and surf” past into its own brand of high-energy “ska,” will release its third album, “Songs About Girls” July 30.

At least, that’s how guitarist and vocalist Sam Miess put it during a phone interview with the Observer last week. Distant Cuzins consists of 2017 Oregon High School graduates Miess, guitarist Nate Krause, drummer Ben Lokuta and bassist and lead singer Nic Tierman.

The band will perform as part of an album release party at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, at High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave., Madison. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

“We’ve been described as a ska band but without the horns and that one always gives a good chuckle,” he said, referring to the band as comparable to a “less geeky Weezer” with the onslaught of “Songs About Girls.”

A removal from its metal “side projects” that were Distant Cuzin’s first two albums, Miess said “Songs About Girls” highlights the band’s character.

The Distant Cuzins website states the band “carries on the mission” of its “rock forefathers,” which is “leaving the audience breathless.” It states there are “still a few brave keepers of the light prowling backroad bars with Les Pauls and Stratocasters … serving up righteous rock to the faithful … It is there you will find Distant Cuzins.”

Miess built on that premise and said rock is a rebellion genre – its about “talking about things that aren’t necessarily appropriate” and reveling in the ironic humor of heartbreak, sadness and “hopelessness.”

He said that’s a lot of what “Songs About Girls” wishes to tell its audience, with an already-out single like “Everything’s Fine.” Miess said “Everything’s Fine” was written about a previous relationship and breakup – it has a cheery tone, but the lyrics prove the opposite.

Miess said Distant Cuzins has drawn a lot of its inspiration from bigger ska bands like Reel Big Fish. But if people want a true feel for the Distant Cuzins sound, Miess said live shows are the band’s forte.

“We are absolutely crazy on stage,” Miess said, also discussing how Krause has done backflips on stage.

He said the band members pretty much “go all in” during concerts, even “jumping over each other.”

Miess said Distant Cuzins got its start when all members were sixth graders on Oregon. He reminisced that at one point, they lived within mere blocks of each other in the village.

And the work over the years has paid off, as Distant Cuzins has won a considerable amount of awards.

Miess said Krause and Tierman are two-time winners of a statewide youth battle of the bands competition known as “Rockonsin” at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. They’ve also been named 2017 Youth Band of the Year at the Madison Area Music Awards, winning other categories as well. Lokuta even received the MAMA Student of the Year award and the Clyde Stubblefield Scholarship.

Now, though the band is “spread out” – some members pursuing higher education and one an apprenticeship. It doesn’t stop Distant Cuzins members from pursuing their passions as musicians, however – especially doing shows.

“The music is only half of what our band is,” Miess said. “Most of the people that follow us and come to our shows – it’s because of how we perform live.”

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.