By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
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By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Not too many people know about Denton's Cuckoo Byrds. They've played live only twice (in front of small crowds), and their noisy style of hard-to-classify rock can be hard to stomach.
"We like to play loud," says David Townsend, the band's guitarist and keyboardist. "It's kind of hard to pull that off in certain situations."
The other member of the Cuckoo Byrds, Lisa McCollough, is not only Townsend's girlfriend and bandmate, but also co-runs with him the vintage store Time Bandits located a short distance from the Square.
Upon moving from their original location on the Square, the two moved into the building they would also use for their store, and it was this move that allowed them to develop their musical project. Using a variety of electronic and organic instruments, the pair record jam sessions with a tape machine, and later, using the recordings as a guide, build off certain of those parts and structures to develop them into songs.
"We go through our various recordings and get ideas that we've had before and revive those and add to them and build from there," says McCullough.
In the core of songs they use for live performances, the drums (played by McCullough), rather than playing a steady background rhythm, take on an almost vocal approach with patterns that don't see the snare or kick hitting at even intervals, but instead come in a broken, repetitive groove from which the band could at any moment launch into an odd time signature rampage.
As McCullough busies herself on that part, Townsend works on a bass guitar or vintage Wurlitzer piano connected to a series of pedals as well as a monophonic modular synthesizer (which he built himself) and coaxes out a slew of very harsh, very unorthodox sounds.
"We're inspired by a lot of obscure, avant-garde music," says McCullough. "And tribal drum beats."
Most recently, their July 10 show at Mabel Peabody's was cancelled directly after the duo went on as the opening act.
Kelly Sanders, the bar's owner, refused to speak on record about the cancellation but explained that despite the growing crowd of new patrons piling into the venue, her upset regulars and the noisy music were simply not what she was expecting.
The Cuckoo Byrds' first show, a June house show in the basement of the Majestic Dwelling of Doom, was one for which the loud, abrasive band was vastly better suited. Fortunately for the band, there's a large enough crowd of people in Denton who enjoy noise and dissonance to make what they're doing not only relevant, but embraced. —Rodrigo Diaz