It was a summer in the early 1970’s in what would otherwise seem like a typical night in a Minneapolis suburb. Four teenagers were practicing with their band when they suddenly and suspiciously went missing. This up and coming band these boys were in, who were greatly influenced by groups like The Bay City Rollers and The Ohio Express were regarded by many as being “teen idols in the making” and “the next big thing.” In the year 2012, these boys mysteriously returned unharmed and un-aged. Wherever they were time did not exist. They have returned to this dimension now in its “information age” with a request for us all: disconnect, decompress, strap on your roller skates and fall in love!
Interview by J Castro
Let us first start out by you guys introducing yourselves and telling us what exactly you do to keep the Cozy machine rolling on.
BONKERS: My friends call me Bonkers, so I guess you can too! Much like my namesake in the Cozy "Denim Magic" cartoon series, I sing and dance for our lovely fans.
BAZ: Me name's Baz, isn't it? I play an Electra Cozy Deluxe model electric guitar, available at select Woolworth's locations.
GORDIE: People call me Gordie Leatherby and I play the electric baritone string machine.
SWIZ: Hey everyone! My name is Archie but me mum calls me Swiz. I bludgeon the drums behind these denim dreamboats.
Can you tell me how you all met and decided to play music together, basically tell us the Cozy origin story?
BONKERS: Our manager doesn't like us to talk much about our past to the press, but since Audio Ammunition is aimed at a more mature audience than the readership of the periodicals we are usually interviewed by -- such as Tiger Beat and Flip -- I figure we can give you the real story. Baz, Gordie, and myself played together for a number of years with various groups that never really went anywhere. Eventually we congealed into a psychedelic rock band called Silas Cozy. We cut a record for Pye titled Sidepiper at the Gates of Dawn, but it didn't get within spitting distance of the charts. Suffice to say, it was subsequently deleted, with only a handful of copies making it into shops. At the time we were crestfallen, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Our soon-to-be manager, Edwin Bickerton, stumbled upon a copy of the Silas Cozy LP one day, looked at the cover, and decided we had star potential. He tracked us all down at our day jobs -- I was starring in a musical rendition of Richard III at the Stoke on Trent Free Theater at the time -- and we all convened at a gentleman's club where Edwin laid out his blueprint for chart domination over many bottles of Piper-Heidsieck champagne. As it turns out, Edwin's vision couldn't have been more prescient. The combination of his inimitable managerial prowess, the songwriting acumen of the Stately/Poundsworth team, and our own increased dedication to our craft has been the recipe for the success we’ve enjoyed over the past few years. Swiz recently joined the group and we're sounding better than ever!
BAZ: Old Edwin found me at me belt job at the tire burning plant in Dongcaster. I had to make sure the tires didn't go out and stoke them with lead paint chips and asbestos to keep the smoke thick. He said, "Son, I've heard you play guitar, would you like to Razzle a Dazzle?"And I said, "Razzle a Dazzle? I'll Razzle a Duck!!"
SWIZ: I met Baz one day in Liverpool as he was floated down the river Mersey in a boat that closely resembled a washtub. It may have actually been a washtub. Either way, it looked like he was unconscious so I swam to him and drug him to the shore to find out what’s the matter and give him CPR. Once I started to bang on his chest he opened his eyes and asked me to be the drummer in Cozy. He seemed fine, so I said yes.
You guys just got back from your second Japanese tour, any fun and exciting stories you’d like to share with us, what are the fans like there as compared to American audiences?
BONKERS: While we love all our amazing supporters across the globe, there is something truly special about the Japanese chapter of the Cozy fan club. Our guide was an old business associate of Edwin's named A-Bone. Bone-san showed us some amazing sights -- who can forget the cafe he took us to where young ladies dressed as French maids gave us deep body massages using severed octopus tentacles in lieu of their hands? However, the most memorable stop on our itinerary had to be the guided tour of Japan's oldest co-ed onsen, or hot spring bath. In honor of Cozy the locals had drained all of the water out of the pools and replaced it with mega-liters of Cola Shock! We lost sight of Baz after discovering the pool he was soaking in had been mysteriously drained dry, but luckily we found him again a couple hours later carrying on something of a Socratic discourse with an undergarment vending machine.
BAZ: We went on the airplane for what seemed like an hour! It took forever it did. Then we were in the famous city of Japan on the southernmost tip of England! I found myself lost for many hours and then I ate something that looked like bacon.
GORDIE: Japan, the land of love, sharing and caring. I needn't extol it any further, except to say that when the beams of the rising sun in the east dabble your pale Dongcaster cheeks and the sacred babbling brooks of the frog spirit tickle your toes, you will feel it too.
SWIZ: Another great memory was being joined onstage at Shelter Hall by very special guest guitarist Fink from Japanese chart-toppers the Raydios. Fink was a true pro, and I must admit he looked mighty dashing in a denim vest.
You guys have a heavy 1970’s glam/bubblegum/Bay City Rollers style and influence. This was an approach to music that had a more innocent fun to it, are you guys kinda sorta trying to bring that back?
BONKERS: It's long been my opinion that good times spring eternal. As long as there are teenagers on this planet, there's going to be a steady demand for rock n' roll, sex appeal, and denim.
BAZ: You're right, I haven't had much time to listen to all the groups we've influenced with touring and all, but Edwin did bring me a Bay City Rollers record, which I had the chance to listen to and was well pleased! I'd like to thank those Bay City Roller boys for being such huge fans and encourage them to keep up the good work! Who knows? With a little practice they could be a supporting act on a Cozy tour someday!!
Your main influences obviously lie heavily in the past, are there any current bands that inspire you?
BONKERS: As you can imagine, our hectic touring schedule gives us ample opportunity to scout up and coming young bands. Two groups that particularly impressed me of late are Ramma Lamma, from the American provincial town of Milwaukee, and Gorilla, from Tokyo. Speaking of the Land of the Rising Sun, at one of the festivals we headlined over there two years ago, we played with a band called Teengenerate who appeared to go over almost as well as us with the natives. I must admit, they were quite excellent. I was also duly impressed by Firestarter, who opened one of our gigs this past summer.
BAZ: I had a singing duck which I really liked, but it ran out of batteries. Then Rita said the battery store was out of batteries so we couldn't have it anymore. Young Parisian also rule.
I know you guys don’t sing about war, famine, and oppression (which is a VERY good thing) so tell me, where does the inspiration for Cozy songs usually come from?
BAZ: Ducks in the sea, monkeys in the tree, vodka in me. Havin’ a good time!
BONKERS: In all honesty, our songwriting team of Mickey Stately and Alvin Poundsworth would be able to answer this question better than any of us can, since they are responsible for many of our most well known songs. I might get in a row with Edwin for airing our dirty laundry in front of the press, but to tell the truth this is a situation we’ve been frustrated with over the years. We’re all adept composers in our own right -- but as Edwin always tells us “you don’t look a golden goose in the egg hole.” However, we were allowed to write two songs on our album “Button By Button” -- “Denim Dream” and “Sidepiping” -- and the response to them by the fans has been quite encouraging. As far as the inspiration behind those two songs goes, they were both inspired by true events in our lives. “Denim Dream” is about how we are living our dream as chart topping superstars thanks to our fans’ support, and “Sidepiping” recounts memories of our high school days. We have another song we wrote together called “Denim Child” in the can for an upcoming 45, but we are currently debating with Edwin about whether or not we will use it or a Stately/Poundsworth composition on the a-side. We wholeheartedly believe “Child” has all the makings of a smash hit and are strongly advocating it be the single.
So with that being said, I’ve heard people say that “art should always push social boundaries, question authority, and make people think.” What is your take on that?
BONKERS: I disagree with that statement, or any other absolutist maxim that purports to define what rules art “should” follow. The only strictures binding a true artist are a rigorous dedication to perfecting his craft and the willingness to follow his muse wherever it may lead. That being said, I must admit I’m a little confused as to why you are asking a pop group about painting and sculpture.
GORDIE: It depends on what you mean by “pushing boundaries and questioning authority.” If you mean breaking the law and nicking a pair of 517’s from Jean Junction, then we’re against it. On the other hand, if you’re talking about staying out past curfew to come see Cozy when we perform at your local auditorium, then we wholeheartedly approve.
Your music is very up-beat and puts a smile on my face no matter what kind of mood I’m in. Is it sometimes hard to play a show if you’re in a bad or sad mood, has there ever been a time when you don’t feel like going out and being cheery?
BONKERS: First of all, thank you very much for saying that. It means a lot to know our music has the power to put smiles on our fans’ faces when they are feeling down. We have the best fans in the world and we’re so blessed to be able to perform for them. To be honest, we feed off the energy of the crowd. It would be impossible not to be excited when we’re shown such love from so many beautiful and special people night in and night out!
BAZ: BAZ HATES PANTS!!!!
What is the one record in your collections that you think a lot of Cozy fans might be surprised you own?
GORDIE: Grame Grace’s "Hail Me."
BONKERS: I have a personal assistant who travels with us on tour and often picks up the latest records for me at local shops. Sometimes he chooses some really far out albums that can be a bit too heavy for me, but occasionally I really dig them. One obscure record he picked up for me recently is “Loaded” from a group called The Velvet Underground. It came out a few years back and didn't really make the charts or anything, but there are some really catchy songs on it.
BAZ: After my mid morning nap, and often after my early afternoon snooze, I'll have Rita put on the record that goes: “Win wam zoozle zam bamma lamma loo, bim bam wamma lam what about you? Wozzle dozzle loop de loo looping up and down, womble cromble every time beep nap noun.” You may not have heard it because I may have recorded it myself. One can never be sure...
SWIZ: A few years ago I picked up a record by a band called MC5. I really love their hard hitting drum lines! I just wish the singer had a little more of an English melodic sense and made use of harmonies the way bands back home do.
What will the rest of 2014 bring for us, the Cozy fans?
BONKERS: Well, we’ve finally wrapped up the first leg of our world tour in support of our new album “Button By Button,” which came out this past summer on HoZac Records and has already gone gold. So far the response to the album has been universally positive, which has us feeling duly humbled, but not entirely unlike a bunch of proud papas. From our early days as Silas Cozy to the release of “Button By Button,” it was a long, hard, road to get to the top of the international pop mountain. Now that we’re here, we’re going to keep working hard to entertain our fans and hopefully secure our place as one of the greatest bands in rock history. As I mentioned earlier, we have another single in the can, which should see the light of day sometime early next year. Other than that, our plan for the rest of the year is to take a break from our relentless touring schedule in order to work on material for our follow up album, tentatively set to be a two-album set entitled “Double Denim.” Hopefully we can convince Edwin to let us write more of the songs on this one.
BAZ: Please check out our new line of Cozy brake pads as well as Baz Bozworthy's Baz Brand Butt Butter for all your butt moisturizing needs!!!
BONKERS: Before we go, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the fans for letting us into their lives. Each time you play a Cozy record or come to one of our concerts it’s like giving all of us a giant hug. Believe me when I say there’s nothing we love more than hugging you back.