The Cringe's John Cusimano Refuses to Hide in Plain Sight!



Driven by the gutsy lead vocals and savvy songwriting of John Cusimano, The Cringe has been bringing their blend of politicized power pop and big-belt-buckle blare to fans across the country since 2004. Now years later they are still writing, recording, and playing shows and since the release of their most recent release "Hiding In Plain Sight" there is no stopping them. Vocalist John Cusimano discusses this release and the rest of the plans they have in mind.


1. What type of band are you?

John: We are a big macho rock band with roots in classic rock and neo-grunge punk rock, with pop infused melodies and prog burnished chops.

2. Tell us a brief summary as to how your band came to be.

John: Years back I found myself armed with a collection of songs and a band name left over from a previous project, but no band with which to jam.  I found our original bass player -- Matt Powers -- in an ad in the classified section on the Village Voice and our original guitarist, Rob Levin, in the office next to mine at my then day job.  We were led to Shawn Pelton by our engineer, Steve Hardy.  Eventually Matt split, and was kind enough to suggest Johnny Blaze as his replacement.  Around the same time Rob also split, and Pelton suggested Roto. Thus the Cringe in their current and ongoing incarnation was born.

3. You released a video for the song "Deep Girl" can you tell me more about the video's concept and the song itself.

John: The video is the brainchild of Jake Nelson you'd have to ask him about the video's concept. The song itself is a paean to the perfect girl, as imperfect as she can be, and how little she has to try.

4. What can you tell me about your album "Hiding In Plain Sight".

John: Of our four albums, it's the one we sweated over the most.  We amped up the heavy-ocity when needed, and weren't afraid to tone it down as well whatever served the particular song best.  I think it's our best collection of songs to date.

5. Was your songwriting and recording process any different than usual for this CD?

John: It was the most collaborative we have ever been in the studio.  Our earlier records tended to almost be JC solo records, whereas at this point all of the members of The Cringe are emotionally vested in the band, and offer crucial and critical input.  Roto and I both wrote material for this album, with the idea being that no matter what, it still had to sound like a "Cringe" song.   Also, I managed to play keyboards on every song (except one track on which Roto plays synth) which adds some depth to the arrangements and hopefully elevates it beyond our traditional 2 guitars, bass, and drums line up.  What's also kinda cool is that at least half of the album was recorded in a studio I built above my garage in upstate NY (the other half at Avatar Studios in NYC).  All the drums were recorded above my garage.

6. What inspired the album title? Is it a concept album?

John: The title sums up our own internal view of the band at this point in its career we are out there touring, recording, releasing material, but are still a bit under the radar.

7. How would you describe the overall sound of the album?

John: Big drums! Big guitars! Loud, rocking, and melodic. Classic yet modern. And slightly wistful.

8. Did the band have any definitive goals they were shooting for before the recording process began for this album?

John: The target was a bit slippery. My initial goal was to track live to tape, with no overdubs, and capture the sound of the band live, warts and all. As the recording process went on, and the creative juices started flowing, we ended up with so many different ideas, and no way to record them all without overdubs.  Then, at that point we changed the goal from "warts and all" to "best sounding record possible."  It was important to have a record that sounded crisp and modern, but not lose any of the "hair" or messy bits that make a rock record so exciting and unpredictable.

9. Are you using any new instrumentation you've never used in the recording process before?

John: Yes . . . keyboards on every single track.

10. Who writes the songs, what are they about?

John:  Roto and I write the material . . . every song is different, but if there is one underlying theme I guess it would be searching for spiritual satisfaction, or at least an answer or two, in an increasingly jumbled and confusing world.

11. What are your expectations for the CD?

John: We hope to increase our potential fan base and touring opportunities with each subsequent CD release.

12. What are your upcoming tour plans?

John: After SXSW we have plans to go out on the road with the Meat Puppets, and several other acts.  As the dates get confirmed, we'll post them.

13. What are your dreams and goals?

John: As they relate to music, to keep writing, recording, touring, and growing.

14. Anything else you'd like to add?

John: Come see us at Bowery Electric in NYC on February 20th!  And thanks for interviewing us.

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