By Chyrisse Tabone
BAND OF THE MONTH—Kougaran–Detroit
Rock At Night is always in search of fresh music and introducing the world to “must-hear” bands. Our “Band of the Month” this month is Kougaran, a foursome out of the Detroit-Metro area, which the lead singer/songwriter Niko Puzio describes as “New Generation Rock Band with an Old Soul.”
My ears definitely perked when I discovered Kougaran’s website and YouTube videos of original music which demonstrate a definite 70s and 80s hard-driving rock feel. I could picture myself cruising in my parent’s Buick Riviera and listening to this as a teenager. Listening to “212 Miles” almost takes me back to listening to Rush while another catchy, energetic song “Little Sister” has a definite 80s pop-rock feel. The genre cannot be pinned down but it is definitely retro roots-rock, something we have not heard much of since alternative, grunge, techno, and hip-hop arrived on the scene. There are no costumes, masks, or gimmicks but pure down-home rock n’ roll as it should be played. Good music never goes out of style.
Old enough to know…young enough not to care. It’s time we need to take on a revolution (Kougaran, “Revolution”).
Kougaran was formed approximately two years ago by brothers Niko (lead singer/guitarist) and Gino Puzio (drums). The band expanded approximately 1 ½ years ago with the addition of Luke Daniels (rhythm guitar) and A.J. Jackson (bass). Kougaran has opened up for such notable bands as Stryper, Autograph and Jack Russell’s Great White and will soon be playing with John Corabi (Mötley Crüe-fame) in May.
Rock At Night inquired about the significance of Kougaran’s name and what kind of audience the band attracts.
Listen to the interview below:
Both of the Puzio brothers have a long history of formal musical training. Niko explains, “It wasn’t until high school that my music education really jump up. During my junior year of high school I was actually enrolled in a dual-enrollment college classical guitar ensemble. The guitar teacher was from Oberlin University and had a rich background. I did the ensemble for two years and then received a scholarship from Columbia University-Chicago.”
Niko explained about his schooling. Listen below:
Rock At Night inquired about Niko’s musical influences and interest in classic rock music. He explained how the Millennial Generation perceives it and touched on his personal influences. Listen below:
Niko relayed about his background and how he choose to create a musical career, “I was about seven or eight years old when I heard artists that I really liked in rock music. I got into playing guitar with general guitar lessons (you know, your basic guitar lessons). I studied a lot of basic chords, scales. I started thinking ‘Do I really want to do this for while’?” I took a year or two off to kind of think about it and develop my own style. While I was doing this I was playing classical guitar.”
Niko explained that in college he is exploring various progressive rock styles saying, “I’ve been playing guitar for 12 years and I’ve been playing incredibly hard progressive rock here [at college]. Like I’m playing John McLaughlin, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Joe Satriani, and Eric Johnson.” I found this to be pretty impressive and not the musical taste and technical skill of most young artists. Niko brings sophistication into his music that escapes a lot of the typical garage-band artists on the scene today.
Niko explained about his honed songwriting skills saying, “I make nice and simple songs into something that is kind of complicated. Like some of the songs we’re putting out in our new EP. I’m blending guitar modes together…lead and rhythm guitar. He’ll start playing in a Dorian mode then after a measure or two, I’ll actually go a third up.” He continues, “I’m trying to spice it up a little bit. It’s kind of like cooking. You start off with your basic ingredients and then say, ‘Oh! Let me add this! And then taste it’.”
He continued, “It is very random. I’ll be walking down the street and will get an idea. Some days I come up with it on an acoustic [guitar]. Other days I’m jamming on my electric. Usually, it’s the music first so I can get the chord progression first. There’s so many subjects ….emotional subjects.”
Kougaran is busy working on an EP which will soon be released. There are big plans for 2015 so keep an eye on this band!