The Cleos: Going live in three

by Casey Dunau

What do Anchorman and DIY rock have in common? Well for starters, The Cleos love them both, and the new Bellingham three piece pays fitting respect to each with their first and so far only single, “Brian Fantana.” Atop the back-beat snare slaps of punk driven drums and an angry, thrashing bass line, singer/guitarist, Taylor Capps croons, “Rollin’ with panther cologne/An expert and it shows/He’s going on now and he’s live.”

There’s an obvious irony here in that the three college boys who make up the band are some of the most laid-back and mild-mannered dudes around—the polar opposites of a Brian Fantana archetype. And yet, somehow the audacious lyrics ring true. Maybe it’s that after shuffling line-ups, styles, and even band names for the better part of a year and half, the band’s three core members, Taylor Capps, Zack Moses, and Kyle Trostad-Menne, have settled into a style, and with it, a newfound confidence.

“We’ve started finding an idea of what we want to sound like, instead of just going with whatever happened,” explained Capps. “It’s a garage-y take on pop punk.”

“Darker sounding and a little crunchier,” added Trostad-Menne.

The blend of pop-culture familiarity and DIY grit is an idiosyncratic touch that gives The Cleos a unique charm. At the same time there’s a practicality to it all that shows the mark of a band with serious ambition.

“For my senior project, it’s called DIY production, I’m making a Cleos album completely self contained with just us three and the equipment that’s here,” Capps said.

The band expects to drop the eight-song LP this June, and in the meanwhile are enjoying the comforts of home recording. “I just think it’s really cool that we don’t have to rely on anyone else,” said Moses.

“From past experience, it seems like the comfort level can be more important than the gear you’re using,” agreed Capps.

Still, the band understands the realities of separating their live sound from their recordings. “With the live show we’re really happy with the three piece right now, even though we might add a guitarist or keyboard player in the future. But as far as recording the songs, it’s all about making them as good as they can be, so we’re open to as many overdubs or anything else as we need.”

For influences, the three-piece cites the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Cloud Nothings, Arctic Monkeys, and Nirvana—all masters of finding impact in efficiency. “Dave Grohl’s parts were so simple but so powerful,” notes Trostad-Menne.

Once their album is out, The Cleos hope to hit the road for tour as well as to continue working on new material. In the meanwhile, they’re busy locking up final mixes for the new recordings, the title of which, though not yet confirmed, is likely to make fans of Adventure Time very happy. Dr. Who enthusiasts should also be pleased to know that the TARDIS will be getting a shout out on another yet to be released song. “It’s about the concept of being left waiting for someone with no good reason,” Capps described.

And here in lies a special knack of The Cleos: making the absurd relatable and the relatable absurd. The band even likes to harness paradox in their live performances.

“Were trying to feed the crowd and feed off the crowd,” Moses said. Either way, Bellingham should get their TV trays ready for the new boys in town, because the show is just beginning.

LIVE SHOW: See The Cleos at The Shakedown on June 18 with Boat Race Weekend. For more about the band, check out facebook.com/thecleosband.

Published in the June 2015 issue of What’s Up!