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Who's Your Cousin?

The more I blog here, the more impressed I am by Chicagos talent pool. Aside from near weekly e-mails from (No I wont link. Copy and paste if youre curious.) asking me to endorse Mistress Day, and their contests to select the top Mistress of the Millennium (I vote Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.), Im typically contacted by artists, writers and musicians looking to promote their work. With few exceptions, Im pleasantly surprised. Take Cousin Dud, a local folk-rock group who recently released their debut album, Our American Cousin. The band name threw me for a second, but Im glad it didnt stop me from checking them out. Below, their guitarist Matt Carmichael discusses the bands music, inspiration, and how their saxophonist isnt really a prominent bankruptcy lawyer.

Our Town Cousin Dud? Why?

Matt Carmichael Some time back our drummer Ben happened to be reading this book, Boy Soldier of the Confederacy and came across [this] line:

“Oh, Cousin Dud,” she cried, “You won’t have him shot. Oh, please don’t.”

We were looking for a proper name [at the time] and we all thought it had a real nice ring to it. I personally like it because I think it sets the bar of expectation really, really low.

OT Describe your music.

MC Folk-rock, lately leaning more towards the rock, particularly in a live setting. But there are some alt and punk influences as well. The songs are all lyrically driven and deal with characters and themes that explore concerns of excess and decadence.

OT How long have you performed together?

MC A couple of years, in various forms. It started as a duo: Josh Burns [and] myself. Drummer Ben Arthur came in later, and bassist Dan Schuld was the last to hop on board. We’ve also known sax man Pete Geraci, (not the lawyer) for a while. He handles the horn most live shows and on a few tracks off the last album, Our American Cousin.

OT Who are your influences?

MC Flannery O’Connor, Craig Finn, and America…the country, not the band.

OT Why self-release your records?

MC I’d love to digress into romanticized notions of calling our own shots or controlling our own destiny, or whatever the DIY appeal may be, but mostly, nobody else offered to release it. We’ll sell out the second we get the chance.

OT Who would you love to discover was a fan of yours?

MC If one day we received a Paypal receipt from Jesus, I think that would be pretty rad…or ALF, that might be even better. But I guess ALF isn’t around any more, so I won’t hold my breath on that one.

OT What are the best and worst parts of being a musician in Chicago.

MC One of the things I love most about the Chicago music scene is that no matter what, you can find a bar or a club or a stage somewhere where somebody will let you get up there and play. One thing I don’t see, unfortunately, and particularly in the folky-rocky-poppy corners of the local scene, is a whole lot of originality. Weve got a whole new batch of musicians still doting on Bob Dylan and the Beatles, and I don’t think that’s doing anybody any favors. It’s like the popular thought process now is how many people can we cram into a band to hide the fact that these songs have already been written to death a hundred times before?

OT Any standout onstage experiences?

MC Anytime we are all up on stage together is a blast. Fortunately, our worst experiences thus far are limited to a broken string or a spilled drink. But I’m absolutely looking forward to some real train wrecks in the future.

OT What can fans expect of your gig at Morseland?

MC We’ve got local jazz outfits Origin of Animal and Mozaik sharing the bill, so it’s going to be a great night with a real diverse lineup. Come on out and have a drink.

Catch Cousin Dud at Morseland, Friday, February 25th at 9 p.m.

A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. Shes kind of looking forward to it actually. Follow Our Town on Facebook and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez