Kozmo - Soul Rock
KOSMO - Modern Soul Rock
"Oh my G*d, what a voice" was screamed across the crowd at Kozmo's secret debut gig showcasing the new band. Charismatic and comedic vocalist, Russell "Kosmo" Koontz, croons the mic with hints of Joe Cocker and Ray Charles. Having such a powerful and unique voice wasn't always welcomed in the cookie cutter Southern California music scene. "I have always had to stand up to producers that wanted me to change how I sound", explains Russell. "These producers were always trying to have me take away the gruffness in my voice to have me sound my age, I guess now the voice and the age match", he jokes.
Reinforced by veteran musicians brings a sense of wisdom to the modern soul sounds they are projecting. Todd "Big Mac" Mackenzie (Bo Diddly, The Mission, John Maurer) retro keyboard sensibilities are whimsical and atmospheric but drop daggers into your soul when he wails on the Hammond. The solid and groovy rhythm section is made up of Robert Cruz on bass (the Cult, Ben Harper, Edwin McCain) and James Cottrell (Waiting for a Decay, Chance and the Choir). Guitarist Michael Zepol (Jeff Healy, Santana, Travis Barker) adds a bluesy, yet hard rock element that brings a huge kick in the teeth to match Russell's vocal intensity.
Having known each other through various projects over the last 15 years, they are more than a musical group, they are soul brothers. Sitting with them backstage one can see the unspoken bond they have with each other. Quickly I was brought into their humor circle and I was breathless with laughter. Weather if it pulling pranks, taking friendly verbal jabs at each other, quoting movies, or photoshopping the members in compromising scenarios with their phone apps, these guys are a riot. They bring that humor to the stage to balance out the deep meaning of the lyrics and dark sounds they produce.
Songs like "Compromise"and "Reason" bring the soulful rhythms that are reminiscent of the Neville Brothers. Other songs like "Tower" add a dimension of 60's blues with shades of Traffic and Blind Faith. Yet when the band gets slower with songs like "Someday"and "How to say Goodbye" they bring tears like a sad movie does. Even with all these dimensions, you can't help but dance the entire time at their shows.
Kozmo is poised to become everyone's favorite band to see and hear in the near future. The honesty and vulnerability in their approach to their art translated and infuses into your soul. You will be left with one thought, "oh my, what a voice".
The Sun San Bernardino