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Serious punk rockers know that true rebellion goes beyond sporting a Mohawk and emanating the same body odor as hippies. Often, however, serious punk rockers overlook the most important element of the genre: fun. Not so for Orange County trio Cunt Sparrer, who’ve made it their mission to lovingly hijack the jams of one of punkdom’s most venerated pioneers, London’s Cock Sparrer, and play their songs using a menagerie of found instruments.
At a recent interview, vocalist/guitarist Jennie Cotterill, 27; percussionist Evan Sinclair, 24; and Sara Lyons, 24, spilled their guts about their love of lo-fi (and more!) in a tiny living room cluttered with washboards, acoustic guitars and toy glockenspiels.
OC Weekly: Was the decision to start a cover band born of a desire to be ironic or a genuine love for Cock Sparrer?
Sara Lyons: There is no irony involved. I have been a huge Cock Sparrer fan since high school, they are probably one of my favorite bands of all time. I had turned Jennie on to them a few years ago, so we’ve both been huge fans of them for a while.
You guys recently played in San Francisco with U.S. Bombs. How did that go?
Lyons: It was an amazing experience. I was really nervous because [I didn’t] know how this was going to go with fans of U.S. Bombs and other bands that were playing on that tour. We consider ourselves a punk band, but we don’t have that sound. I was, like, people might not be into this. But every night was real fun . the other bands were amazing. Duane Peters was nice as hell. We felt totally welcome.
Have you guys added any unusual found instruments to your arsenal lately?
Jennie Cotterill: We got some kazoos, but we haven’t debuted them yet. And Sara got a real, legit glockenspiel.
Lyons: Jennie actually plays accordion, we just haven’t managed to work it in yet.
What is it about lo-fi/unusual gear that you guys are into?
Cotterill: It’s so awesome when you see some weird toy instrument at the swap meet. I just feel compelled to buy weird toy instruments from the swap meet.
Lyons: There’s something to be said about the sound. I wouldn’t say it would be most musicians’ first choice, but speaking for myself, I don’t consider myself a musician.
Evan Sinclair: When you break down [Cock Sparrer songs] they’re just fun sing-alongs. This just emphasizes the lyrics more. When we play, it feels like there’s so much fun stuff going on you have to pay attention to how fun the lyrics are.
Cotterill: Having been in bands—with guys—it’s like everybody has to own a pickup truck so they can get their ridiculous cabinets to practice. You have to rent a place somewhere with a stage and everybody turns it into a dick-measuring contest. We don’t have to pay for a practice space. You can have fun, and it’s not this big ordeal.
Does this mean if you guys make big money in the future there won’t be any Guitar Center shopping sprees?
Lyons: There might be a crazy eBay shopping spree [laughs].
Jennie, you’re in the grad program for graphic design at Cal State Long Beach. How much time do you have left?
Cotterill: My thesis show is in November, then I’m done. That’s why we are not doing anything after this show [at Que Sera on Sept. 5] until Oct. 30 at the Prospector.
So this is it for a while?
Cotterill: Unless someone is going to pay us a ton of money, or it’ll be the greatest show ever.
Sinclair: Yeah, unless we’re opening for Cock Sparrer.
Cunt Sparrerperform with Last Round Down and Charles’ Mansion at Que Sera, 1923 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 599-6170; www.thequesera.com. Sun. Call for time. $5; if you’re in Western-themed dress, $3. $21+.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: email@example.com.
This column appeared in print as "Taming the Cock."