By Doug Hill
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — “I’m serious, we’re going to blow it out,” Raney Aboud said. “It’s going to be incredible, everyone’s in store for a big treat.”
He’s the percussionist for OKC punk rock duo Cosmostanza and was describing what their show would be like at the sixth annual Norman Music Festival 7 p.m. today at the Dreamer Concepts Stage, 324 E. Main St.
Aboud’s band mate and lead vocalist/guitarist Maxwell Moore was no less enthusiastic.
“We don’t get to play Norman a lot because there aren’t many venues for people under 18,” Moore said. “So when we do come here we like to make it a lot of fun.”
Both gents are 17-year-old seniors at Heritage Hall School. They will be incoming freshmen at University of Oklahoma this fall. Cosmostanza opened for Math the Band at an all ages Norman venue last December and their show was indeed a riot. They pulled out all the stops putting on a vigorous performance that had their audience either dancing or transfixed.
“We’re just going to go crazy and have fun,” Moore said. “When the crowd’s in to it we feed off their energy.”
Cosmostanza will be playing from their repertoire that’s been recorded on two extended-play discs titled “Rad Vibes” and “Champs.” Champs’ cover art features a photo of the duo high-fiving each other across a table holding a big pizza pie. They’re wearing ribbons with medals and surrounded by loving cups, trophies and a soccer ball. The arranged scene is for-the-win innocent and reflects a few of the band’s lyrical themes.
“It’s cool to eat pizza,” Aboud said. “No one wants to say it, but I’m going to, that’s why bands have pizza on their stuff. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ate pizza, because it’s cool.”
He went on to explain the current rejuvenation of vintage ‘80s and ‘90s pop culture and the influence on their music. Moore detailed his affinity for street fashion and Aboud just shook his head and said it made no sense to him. This peer disapproval didn’t inhibit Moore in the least because as it became apparent later, the pair are stone cold soul brothers. That tight relationship comes across in their refreshingly good music.
Aboud and Moore collaborate on song writing.
“I’m in a long distance relationship,” Moore said. “When you care about someone who’s far away and you can’t do anything to be with them, is the inspiration for songs like ‘You Make Things Fun’ and ‘I Need Your Love’.”
Aboud’s songs begin as free-form poetry and then he bounces them off Maxwell for coordination of guitar lines. Sometimes they lyrically poke fun at their generation as in the composition titled “DTC,” an acronym meaning Down To Cuddle, skewering the more common texting shorthand DTF (down to f---).
“A lot of people our age catch on to that, but some older people don’t,” Moore gently and diplomatically explained after a thoroughly explicit translation of the above into Standard English.
“I want to be avant-garde, but it’s too damn hard,” Aboud said, quoting himself from the second track “Avant-Garde” of the Champs CD.
“Electric Forest” was written after attending a Flaming Lips concert. Anime or Japanese animation figures into Cosmostanza’s songbook as another muse from their childhood.
“I’ve always had a love for Japanese things,” Aboud said. “When I was in fifth grade I told Max we were going to move to a cool apartment in Japan where everything was white. I just love the people, culture and food.”
Watching Mongolian Chop Squad, a show about cartoon Japanese teenagers who love and play western rock music, was actually the impetus for creating Cosmostanza.
“The playfulness of anime is reflected in our music,” Moore said. “We’re teenagers right now and just having fun.”
Naturally, much of Cosmostanza’s musical orientation was shaped by their families.
“Both of my parents are super classic rock people,” Moore said. “I remember them playing Pink Floyd, Steely Dan and Beatles albums a lot and when I hear certain songs it takes me right back to those days.”
Aboud’s dad was a Pearl Jam guy, sworn to fly the grunge flag forever.
“My mom had an ear for good pop,” he said. “One song she played by the Bee Gees called ‘Nights on Broadway’ is just incredible.”
Don’t let this single lapse in musical taste influence your opinion about Cosmostanza, go out and hear them tonight.
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