By Nicole Hanratty
Posted March 3, 2013
Ready for a sexy psychedelic Cosmic Suckerpunch? Like a sucker punch, the force of this sexy psychedelic band will mechanically knock you off guard.
Cosmic Suckerpunch is not your run of the mill band of musicians. They’re diverse, talented, smart, and producing psychedelic rock of the Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin kind. Debuting last year on a national stage at Bonaroo after a 2011 spot at San Francisco’s Outside Lands, Cosmic Suckerpunch heads out this week on tour with The Sam Chase. Cosmic Suckerpunch’s tour is sponsored by clothing company San Franpsycho, who will be following the bands in their mobile truck. The tour hits Austin, TX where they play SXSW and culminates with a free “EP release show” back in Los Angeles at Harvard and Stone.
Lead singer Ari Welkom graduated Harvard, the “twins” Fabien and Sébastien Hameline were well schooled in France and Adam Timmerman the band’s drummer is a Berklee College of Music graduate.
Four of us (Adam was not present) met at Jerry’s Deli Studio City, an iconic diner in the San Fernando Valley where many a late nights have hosted Hollywood’s A-list crowd. Because there is no such thing as a quiet corner in Jerry’s we took the most isolated table and resolved to repeat ourselves a few times. The wild nature of Cosmic Suckerpunch’s music begged my opening question, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”
While Ari pleaded the fifth–although he did admit he likes to jump off of things–it seemed to me graduating Harvard with an economics degree and ditching all equations for an acting / music career was bound to be somewhere near the top of his list. I probed. “I knew Wall Street was not in my heart,” he explained. “How do you tell your parents that?” I asked, knowing full well I could not of told mine. “My parents are really cool…they want me to be happy.” Ari looked me in the eye and said with a staggering amount of confidence, “Anything in my life that I’ve been willing to commit to and work hard at they’ve supported me. I’ve a tendency when I want something to really go for it and they know that about me.”
Sébastien said he and his twin brother Fabien AKA Sebs and Fabs (if like me, you want to be in on the nicknames), “piloted a 747 at age 7.” “You did what?” I asked, and this time it wasn’t just the noise in the restaurant that was making Sebastian repeat himself but also his French accent and my certainty I had heard him wrong. “We piloted a 747. We asked our dad where we were flying over and he asked the flight attendant… She took us to the pilot’s cabin to find out.” Needless to say the boys were invited in and got to sit on the pilot’s lap and steer the plane. “We saw the horizon line shift,” Sebs told me, “we were flying a 747 above the Atlantic.”
Ari promised to do something crazy in 2013 or on their current tour. Fabian told Ari, “You should do something crazy every year.”
So how did these four meet? Fabien (who also works as a film maker) was working production on a vampire film in which Ari was a lead actor. They were filming and staying on location in Santa Barbara. Fabs said that when Ari pulled out his acoustic guitar one night and started playing the two really connected. “So it was love at first sight?” I asked. They laughed, and as much as I was joking, their bond was evident. They exchanged thoughts with glances. Fabien brought his brother Sébastien (whom is also a cinematographer) in to the band as the bassist and it was a random Craigslist car sales ad that brought Adam Timmerman (nickname Tizz, A Tizz, Tizzwald or The Tizz) to the band as their drummer.
My next question seemed obvious to me but I could tell in apropos fashion they never saw coming. “Have you ever been sucker punched?” Ari laughed, “Yes I have actually.” In my most accusatory voice I followed, “What did you do?” A big guilty smile spread across his face and he simply admitted, “I was in Pittsburgh. I was talking to the wrong guy’s girlfriend in a bar and the next thing I knew I was in a gigantic bar fight.” It was a story that Fabien and Sébastien had never heard. “Did you win?” Fabs asked Ari. “Depends how you define winning,” Ari laughed. “I didn’t die.”
What does the name Cosmic Suckerpunch mean to the band? Sébastien said cosmic “is sound from a different dimension,” while “suckerpunch is the rock edge we bring to the songs.” In the current music world that is full of terms like “post” “indie” “alt” “neo” “retro” and “step” their band name seems surprisingly accurate in its description. Their garage style psychedelic rock delivers something unexpected and out of this world. Unlike a bar brawl sucker punch though, it’s a welcome hit.
Watch Cosmic Suckerpunch “In Love With a Robot” on YouTube Music Videos
Musically “In Love With A Robot” shows off the bands sense of humor and fun side, while “In Waves,” takes a sharp turn down an introspective highway. “It comes in waves. My humanity comes in waves. Tell me what those lyrics mean to you,” I asked each of them. “Everybody’s different and has different moods,” Sébastien answered. “In the modern world we are more connected than ever and at the same time we are less connected than ever,” Fabien replied. “We all walk around with different walls up and masks,” Ari explained of the lyrics he authored. “I was thinking about empathy and feeling really connected to other people in my soul. It comes in waves… That’s why I love music, because playing music and playing with Cosmic Suckerpunch is probably when I feel most human.”
Herein lies the dichotomy in their music. One song makes you laugh with a catchy tune that gets stuck in your head about a vibrator and the next grabs you and makes you question how in touch you are with your own humanity. Most telling and in deed probably the secret recipe behind the yin and yang of this band’s music are their favorite ice cream flavors. The twins both love vanilla while Ari loves chocolate. (Adam’s favorite was not discussed.) “We don’t try to be different,” Sébastien commented. “Creating has to be natural.” Ari added, “I feel a lot of gratitude being able to play music and with these guys.”