WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN: Because you haven’t quite accepted it’s not summer anymore
HOMETOWN: San Diego, CA
GENRE: Tropical Pop
“Cuckoo Chaos literally implies that you don’t know what the hell is going on,” singer Jackson Milgaten explains of the band’s moniker. “If you call your band ‘Mike Stone and the Badasses,’ you’re probably going to be a punk band; or if you name it ‘Rainbow Love,’ you’re probably going to be doing more of a hippie thing. The name gives us free reign to do whatever the hell we want.”
That audacious and unrestrained approach to creating music has helped the quintet (Scott Wheeler, Jeremy Scott, Dave Mead, Garrett Prange and Milgaten) gain quite a bit of recognition. Since officially focusing on Cuckoo Chaos in October of last year, the group has signed with Lefse Records, toured extensively, and were buzzed about all over the Internet, including rave reviews of their debut album, Woman, from the likes of Pitchfork and Filter.
Woman is the quintessential California dance surf-pop album, which can easily be attributed to the band’s Southern Californian roots. Milgaten was also inspired by his roommate’s love of Ethiopian jazz, which he says he tried to incorporate throughout the album to give it an Afro-beat, dance-like rhythm. While the band soaks up an array of music, they say not one thing in particular influences the end result of their work. “Our songwriting process is so fluid, it’s hard to say that we were thinking about any one thing when we were writing a song,” Milgaten says. “When Scott has an idea for a song, that idea might become non-existent when we actually record that song or play it live.”
And as a band that is constantly changing, Cuckoo Chaos is currently working on new material for a 7-inch to be released this fall, as well as their second album, which they hope to release next year. The new material, they say, is much darker and more atmospheric. “It’s like we took everyone and shot them in the face,” jokes Wheeler. “The last record was kind of like chillin’ by the beach drinking a Piña Colada,” adds Milgaten, “and the next record is like, ‘Why is he on The Dark Side of the Moon trippin’ on acid?’” The element that ties the two albums together, he says, is the continuous room for rhythm and dance, which is integral to what they do, musically.
No matter what comes next for Cuckoo Chaos, the band’s only real plan is to keep doing it. “We’re all pretty blessed to be prolific enough to have things to work on,” Wheeler says. “I don’t think it’s a plan for any of us to just stick with what we’ve released; I think we’ll just forever be moving forward. It’s like its own beast: we’re just writing it…sort of.”
Photo by Anthony Levas