Badass Band 93- Cutty Flam
If you like a classic rock n roll with a punk rock twist then our newest Badass Band, Cutty Flam, is the perfect fit for you. Self described as prom punk (I’m not one for obscure labels, but hell, this one fits) this band will have you out of your seat and jamming along in no time.
Recently, I sponsored Sick City Records Fest and I was aware of a few bands on the lineup, but was glad to be able to be exposed to some new ones while there. One of those new ones was Cutty Flam. At the core, CF is a trio, Bang Bangs on Drums/Vocals, Cutty on Vocals/Guitar and Chewy Louie on Vocals/Bass. When they jumped on stage in their classy, retro garb, the place started to fill up with excited folks. Then they started to wail, and shit, was it badass. Their live show is one of the highest energy shows I’ve seen in a while. Add a radical chick drummer, a mix of female and male vocals and a killer vibe; I was sold.
CF currently has a new EP out, Robot Heart, and it’s basically their live show on disc. The same excitement and toe tapping that happens at their live show is invoked via tracks like “Sugga” with its classic twangy guitar goodness, tight rhythms, and Cutty’s vocals crooning, “Sugga Sugga Sugga.” This track goes from a classic sound to melding seamlessly into showcasing their punk influence by picking up the pace at the song’s emotional climax with lines like, “Yeah, you drive me crazy.” Another track showcasing CF’s low-end range is “Do You Wanna” a mix highlighting both female and male vocals in this unrequited love song. The male vocals boast lines like, “Baby don’t you want me? Why won’t you look at me? Could you ever see me? Girl you know its true, that every time I see you, it hurts me really bad, it makes me sad.” While the female vocals answer negatively but in an ever so sweet voice. What Cutty Flam’s tunes do best is throw you into a well executed, fun as hell, time warp with their own unique twist. Even their music videos follow suit (See below!).
The radical trio that comprises Cutty Flam, took the time to talk to BBB over some pie, so read on to find out how they met, what character their name is based on, what they’ve got cooking with Burger Records, and the unique way they create their tunes!
When and why did you start playing music?
Bang Bangs: We had a punk band and they kind of dissolved. Cutty had a punk band. And I saw Meg White, with The White Stripes, and got completely inspired. That looks like so much fun; she’s using her body in certain ways. Just out of convenience for him, for Cutty, I started playing drums. He played guitar.
Cutty: I was 18 years old, and I think my first guitar was one of those Squier packs from Sam Ash. I think I saved. I worked. I got my first job at a video store, and I said to myself, “Ok I’m just going to work for 6 months, quit. Make my money for my guitar and leave.” I stayed there for six years, I think. But I bought my guitar and that was kind of my training ground. I would be sitting at the video store with my $100 Strat and writing songs. Writing songs and renting movies is basically what I did. That’s when I learned.
Chewy Lewy: Music has always been a part of my life. So just growing up, as an individual, I’ve always been surrounded by different people who have different taste in music, so pretty much my life evolved with the music I’ve been listening to. I’ve always been surrounded by friends that have always been into music. I got my first bass when I was 10 years old, and after that, I just kept on doing music ever since.
What kind of bands did you listen to growing up? And how is that maybe different now?
Bang Bangs: I grew up on a lot of old rock ‘n’ roll. My mom was really into Buddy Holly and a bunch of stuff like that. K-EARTH 101 was a huge. We listened to that every day going to school. And then I got really into punk rock music.How is it different now? I don’t know if it’s quite different … It’s the same. I mean, I listen to everything. It’s not a specific genre. Like when I was into punk rock music, it was usually, I would mostly listen to punk. But Buddy Holly would slip in there. I listen to a lot more local bands now.
Cutty: I wasn’t a big music fan when I was growing up. My mother was a singer. She would always sing to me when I would go to bed and whenever I was sad. But I wasn’t a big music fan until I was about 18 years old, and then I started listening to what every kid has access to, which is the radio. And on the radio you have access to pop bands. And for me pop bands, at the time, were Linkin Park, Blink 182, Garage Rock, The Strokes, The White Stripes. That kind of opened a lot of doors for me, when I actually looked past them and started finding out their idols. So I would go back into the blues, and then I got stuck on the blues for a year. Just nothing but slide guitar. Mississippi Delta, Charlie Patton, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Willie McTell. There’s a lot of blind people in the blues.
When I met Bang Bang, I was 18, and, like I said, I was into pop music. That kind of opened doors. That kind of led to punk rock as well. I started my first punk rock band back in 2004. We played for four years. We had lots of fans, lots of fans, in the San Fernando Valley. That kind of just dissipated. Then I was left with choices to listen to new music, and I found jazz. So I listened to a lot of jazz when I was in my 20’s. I got stuck there. I got stuck there, and I actually joined an avant garde jazz ensemble and went to New York with them. They were actually in the band as well. We went to New York, and we played a lot of places here in Los Angeles, a lot of the art scene.Once you listen to jazz, anything else is easy to digest, I would think. Nothing really surprises me nowadays. That’s kind of where I’m at now. I listen to a lot of local bands, most of my friends, anyway. That’s kind of what I take inspiration from nowadays. But I do keep an ear out for bands from across the pond.
Chewy Lewy: Well, my story is almost similar to Cutty’s. Growing up I was very limited to what I was able to listen to. You know, lack of money, no Internet access. So I had to deal with radio music. Besides that after having access to the Internet, I was able to expand my horizons. I started listening. I was heavily influenced by African-American music, reggae, blues, and jazz. But then psychedelic rock’s what pretty much influenced me the most. Bands like Pink Floyd, The Doors. A lot of mellow music, a lot of soul music, that’s what pretty much captivated me. But nowadays, I’m really supporting local bands as well and getting ideas from them.
BBB: I love hearing all this because I hear the influences when I listen to your tunes. Just seeing your set, one set, I can pick apart pieces of each of those things that you guys said in there, which is cool.
Cutty: Different personalities, right? It’s like we say so much without really saying anything.
So, how did all of you meet initially?
Bang Bangs: We’re all from the San Fernando Valley, and we all grew up pretty much down the street from each other. Cutty and I met in high school. He used to skate, and that’s how he met Chewy Louie. We all started playing music in some of the circles. Different pockets of the Valley started to intersect, and that’s how we became friends and hung out with each other. We live on the same little strip of street.
Chewy Lewy: I used to skate with Cutty. We used to be skating buddies back then when we were like 12, 13 years old. Then after that, when we went to high school, I didn’t see him much after that. It wasn’t until we went to college, and we were both taking music classes in college, so we crossed paths. We started interacting musically after that. And then the rest is history.
Cutty: I have a theory that if you stick around with something long enough, you’ll meet people that are like-minded like you. So I always tell my friends, just stick with the music long enough, and you’ll find people who really are dedicated, people who really do care and are passionate about this. Because you know, everybody else just kind of gets weeded out. Everyday there’s a band popping up, everyday there’s another person saying, “I want to be a guitar player. I want to be a drummer.” But if they don’t stick with it, we’re never going to cross paths. Very unlikely. If I didn’t meet her in high school and I didn’t meet Chewy skating, I would have met them eventually. That’s how I see this whole kind of connectedness.
Why the name Cutty Flam?
Cutty: To start off, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. I think, people put too much emphasis on words and meanings. When we were like, oh hey, this is real, we need a name. We were really into watching anime cartoons, and one of the characters in this cartoon was this guy wearing a Speedo. And he had these huge Popeye muscles. He ran on Coca Cola, that was his power, and he had a blue pompadour. It’s a totally Japanese version of the 50’s American vintage kind of idea. So I thought, oh my God. And he was half-robot, half-human.
Bang Bangs: Yeah, he has a metal nose.
Cutty: I was like, this guy is perfect. He represents everything that I think would be a good band name. His name was Cutty Flam. So now if you type into Instagram “Cutty Flam,” under hashtags, you’ll see a bunch of pictures of this anime.
Chewy Lewy: Yeah, we hashtag “Cutty Flam band” now.
Cutty: So for all the fans out there, it’s #CuttyFlamBand. Not #CuttyFlam. You’ll be disappointed. But that’s how we got the name. I’m waiting for the day where I get that letter in the mail where they say, “I’m sorry, but cease and desist.” And once that day comes, we’ll just take somebody else’s name.
Chewy Lewy: Or it might be good news. An invitation to go play in Japan.
How do you describe your band to someone?
Bang Bangs: 1950s prom punk.
Cutty: The new Quentin Tarantino film staring Richard Allen opposite Bettie Page. That’s what we would sound like.
Chewy Lewy: Or, cruising down Ventura Boulevard in a 1957 Chevy. While the sun is setting. I know. I know.
Cutty: We actually did that. We did that for our first photo shoot. There was radio too, right?
Chewy Lewy: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Cutty: Chuck Berry was playing on the radio.
Chewy Lewy: Yeah, Chuck Berry was playing. Actually it kind of did feel as if you were in the ’50s. We were all dressed up just cruising down Ventura Boulevard. It was perfect.
How does your creative process typically work?
Bang Bangs: I got it. We will get a call. It will be Cutty, and he’s like, “All right. We’re going to rehearse tonight. And we’re going to record this song that I have.” We learn it right there on the spot and record. It’s done. And send it to the producers.
Cutty: Basically. I’ll surprise them with material. I’ll just say, “Hey, I have a song idea. Let’s do it.” When we recorded most of our music originally, our demos, that’s the process. Was show up, we’re going to record this, and you’ll figure it out in the rehearsal space. I just wanted to test them, and I trusted them enough as musicians to come up with their parts. Even though I knew everything, I was cheating. I knew the song, but they didn’t know the song. We would take those 30 to an hour to meld our sound together. And then just be done with it at the end of the night. That way, it was quick. It was fun. It was in the moment. And that was that.
Chewy Lewy: Cutty would usually just throw riffs and chords at me. It’s like, OK, let me keep it groovy real quick. So I would just create a groovy bass line over it. And it would all mesh in perfectly.
Cutty: Sometimes I have to tell Chewy Louie, “Relax.” He does come from a psychedelic background.
Chewy Lewy: Not only that, but I do also come from a jazz background as well, so I like be all over the place.
Cutty: He’ll come back with something and “Just bring it down a little bit.” Because although me and him and Bang Bang, are fluent in the language of jazz, a lot of listeners nowadays, they don’t do their homework. We can’t really throw a million notes at them and expect them to be able to be consistently engaged.
Chewy Lewy: There’s a deceitful type of element to our music because we are holding back a lot. There’s a lot of things we would love to do with our music, but we don’t think listeners would really be as accepting to our type of music if it was the way we wanted it.
Cutty: Yeah, we’re thinking about our audience. And what our audience would want to hear. We want to show them a good time. We want to entertain them.
Chewy Lewy: I don’t know if you saw, but Bang Bang sings.
Cutty: That’s one of the highlights of the show. People actually came up to us after the show and were like, “Hey, she should sing more.” We took that to heart. We said, OK. Here’s the fan. Here’s the listener who wants to see her sing more. Maybe there’s other people who want to see that, too. Next rehearsal we’re like, “You’re singing “Shakin’ It Low” now.”
Chewy Lewy: Yes, we do listen to our fans.
What do you guys have coming up in the next few months?
Bang Bangs: We’re releasing a tape on Burger in September.
Cutty: Burger Records!
Chewy Lewy: Sean and Lee are awesome guys. We actually went to their shop, kind of impromptu, and bombarded them with our cassette.
Bang Bangs: Our handmade cassette. We drew on it.
Chewy Lewy: It was very, very, I guess, humbling experience. Coming up to somebody and just saying, “Here’s my music. Please listen to this.” Lee was totally awesome. And Sean. They were very receptive to it. We went down there to Riverside last week, and it was just like, hey, let’s do this. In a matter of minutes, we were already talking about release date. It just kind of happened like that. Very excited.
Bang Bangs: Very, very excited. .
Chewy Lewy: Yeah, we have a few shows coming up as well. If you want to find out about our show dates, you should definitely go on our Facebook page. And find out. And be there.
Cutty: We have a possible 7-inch coming out. It’s a split 7-inch with a band called Michael Rey and the Woebegones. That should be fun. We’re producing that ourselves. We’re working together.
If you could change one thing about the music industry right now, what would it be?
Bang Bangs: OK. We think that bands should get paid. Always. A lot of it’s pay to play. A lot of it is, they feel like the bands owe them something when they should owe the bands something. We’re providing some kind of entertainment. That’s, I think, our biggest issue with the music industry is we feel everyone should get paid. We put in a lot of time and effort and practice.
Cutty: There’s another issue I can bring up.
Bang Bangs: There he goes.
Cutty: This involves artists themselves. In the music business, there’s always somebody who can offer you something better. And there’s always people who promise you things that they probably never intend to do. That’s kind of one of the flaws of the music industry is how artists are very vulnerable. We have to pick and choose the direction we want to take our music even if that involves hurting or misleading other bands and other friends of yours. Promoters and things like that. Because we’ve been screwed over from bands who just, “Oh, we got a better gig. We’re not going to play yours because we’ve gotten a better gig.” As frustrating as it is, I understand that they’re just trying to enrich their career. Sometimes the integrity is lost. You forgive, but you don’t forget.
Bang Bangs: Nope.
Cutty: That’s one of the things in the music industry I think is a double edged sword. It needs to be done, but I don’t like it. Not one bit.
Chewy Lewy: My view is there’s a lot of great local bands out there. Give them a chance. Buy their CDs or tapes as well. Support local music.
One song you never get tired of listening to.
Chewy Lewy: Pink Floyd “Breathe.”
Cutty: Arctic Monkeys “Number 1 Party Anthem”
Bang Bangs: I don’t know if there’s a specific one. Because when I listen to music, it makes me feel a certain way. It gives me a vibe. To pick a certain vibe that I could listen to over and over again … I’ll say, La Luz “Call Me in the Day.” It’s a good vibe. I wouldn’t mind living that vibe. I wouldn’t.
Best live show you’ve ever gone to?
Bang Bangs: White Stripes at the Glass House in Pomona. Amazing. We were, I swear, five feet away. There was a guy in a wheelchair in front of me, so I had all this clear space. It was amazing, and I’ll never forget it.
Chewy Lewy: Grizzly Bear at the Greek Theater. Those bears are real.
Bang Bangs: I know yours.
Cutty: You do?
Bang Bangs: There’s one or two I could think of.
Bang Bangs: Yeah.
Cutty: OK, but what’s one?
Bang Bangs: One of them is when you saw The Strokes, Regina Spektor and White Stripes. Then the other one is James Blake.
Cutty: You know me so well. We went and we saw James Blake. He’s a European young artist. He does like dance dub-step.
Bang Bangs: Gospel.
Cutty: Gospel dub-step music.
Bang Bangs: So good.
Cutty: He was out in Santa Cruz. He was on tour. So me and Bang Bang drove out there and went to go watch him. He was at this theater. It was a little small town. I mean, Santa Cruz is not a small town, but it felt small. It was at, I want to say, the Fox Theater, but I don’t think that’s it. It was all college students mostly. Half of them didn’t know what they were doing there. It was just amazing.
Favorite things to do, not musically related.
Bang Bangs: I’m an oil painter. That’s what I do. That would be mine. Paint.I like to make things with my hands.
Cutty: I like to make videos. I’m a director, so I shoot music videos. I shoot promo videos and things like that. I enjoy that. That’s where I spend my time.
Chewy Lewy: I like to play sports, mostly basketball and soccer.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Chewy Lewy: I’d be like Anakin Skywalker. Because I’m a good guy, and there’s some tendency to be a little dark as well. .
Cutty: I’d probably be Mario from Mario Bros. Because he’s always going on adventures, taking shrooms, and saving the princess.
Bang Bangs: OK. I would be a character in one of Amy Sol’s paintings. I don’t know if you know who that- She’s an artist. They’re all so whimsical, and there’s always animals around. There’s one central female figure. That’s who I would be.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what are some bands that you would feature?
Definitely Michael Rey and the Woebegones. Summer Twins. Shannon and the Clams. Los Craters. Afterglow. La Luz would be good. There’s also a dance band in East LA called Thee Commons.
FIND CUTTY FLAM HERE: