The Cougar Den is closed
I’ll be honest–hardcore generally isn’t my thing. For every band that manages to do something interesting with the genre, there are about 50 that I see that result in my thinking, “um, yeah, there’s a reason Die Kreuzen effectively put this shit to bed 30 years ago.” So when a really killer hardcore band captures my attention, I tend to perk up and take major notice. One of the local hardcore bands that fell firmly into the “interesting” camp was Cougar Den, a band full of smartly-constructed riffs, badass, primal drumming, and all kindsa volume. (They were on the bill when i nearly destroyed my ankle falling off my drum throne in Racine, too. I’m sure that counts for something.)
I refer to them in the past tense because Cougar Den are regrettably calling it a career as their members scatter to the four corners. They’re giving it one last go, though, at new DIY space The Spot on Sunday, along with their buddies Cloud Mouth, Curb, and Slow Walker. Cougar Den drummer and all-around shit-get-dunner Kelsey K (who also drums in the pummelingly rad new Milwaukee post-hardcore outfit Centipedes and just generally busts her ass booking rad all-ages shows around town [did you like that Monotonix show at the Bayview Legion Hall? Thank her]) sent Fan-Belt a few interview answers via email in anticipation of the glorious sendoff.
Kelsey: We have been living in three separate states for almost two years. Adam moved from WI to MI to CA in the last two years and Justin moved from WI to NY to IL. The band formed around us being besties and touring as much as possible and that was our focus for awhile. Living so far apart has made writing and touring really limited so we figured it was better to end this chapter. We’re all still besties and if geography ever permits, we’ll surely start something new.
You’re still keeping busy with Centipedes and booking shows, but is anything else on your radar? And what are the other Cougar Denners (is that a word, much less the plural of a word?) gonna do now?
Justin, who plays guitar, is starting a new project called “House Noises” in Chicago with our good friends Peter Murphy and John Olds from MANS. In California Adam is building guitars at the Ribbecke custom shop and working at a vineyard. He’s living the dream. This fall most of my music projects are going to be put on hold. I am moving to Cairo to study abroad for a little while. When I return, Centipedes will pick back up. We’ll hopefully release something in early 2011.
There seems to be a perception that a lot of Milwaukee bands fall into sort of a “Milwaukee curse” and break up before they reached their full potential. Did that happen with CD, or do you feel you accomplished everything you set out to do?
I think we accomplished most everything we set out to do. We formed in high school and at the time it was a huge aspiration to play with locals like Seven Days, Since By Man or Paige Marshall. We really had no idea what we were doing but we wanted to do it.
We bought a school bus the spring of our senior year and that summer we toured out west for 6 weeks. It was totally ridiculous: from busted fuel pumps and being stuck in Utah to mono and food poisoning to playing with Health and Aa at The Smell (LA) and Ampere and Diatro at The People Projects (CHI)….but that’s the best, ya know? Of our six longer tours, we played Init Fest, SXSW, Castle Fest and This Is Ours Fest and toured with Father Phoenix, MANS & Cloud Mouth. With MANS we played in the living room of some kid’s house in Tijuana! Opportunities like that made Cougar Den a blast to be a part of. Also, we were really fortunate to have Init Records release keepondrifter and Ice Age records release our split with Cloud Mouth.
We’ve met a lot of really amazing people and bands and been to a lot of cool places. That’s what diy touring/music is about.
What can folks expect from the show on Sunday? Anything special planned for the big send-off?
I’m really really excited! It’s a new space that some MIAD kids were rad enough to let us use. Our wild & crazy friends Cloud Mouth and Curb will be playing and they are always full of surprises. We’re pulling some old songs out of the woodwork. Bobby Reitman, our former bassist, will be doing some vocals with us! It’ll be a great night!