Meet Cunt Sparrer: Less Cock, More Cunt

Categories: interview
Hailing from Long Beach are two subversively charming lasses with lo-fi dreams. Operating under the moniker Cunt Sparrer, singer-guitarist Jennie Cotterill, 27, and singer-keyboardist Sara Lyons, 24, pay loving homage to punk icons Cock Sparrer. Singing such songs as "Because You're Young," "Take 'Em All" and "Riot Squad" the duo is accompanied on drums (I use the word drums loosely) by 23-year-old Evan Sinclair.

Their artistic strategy is to depose the distorted fury of the original east London group and replace it with deliciously novel arraignments. They do this by arming themselves with a thrift store keyboard, acoustic guitar, as well as various found-items substituted for standard percussive implements.

This is all accompanied by Cotterill and Lyon, who some say have fiercely squeaky voices. Watching them open for Jesse Malin last week at Alex's Bar, it was hard not to think of what might have happened had Laverne and Shirley started playing indie-punk music (relax, this is is a compliment).  Though Cotterill and Lyons have known each other for years, the band is still in its infancy, having formed in January of this year.

"It started because I thought that Cunt Sparrer would be a great name for a Cock Sparrer, cover band," says Lyons. "And I've been a big fan (of the band) since high school." The resulting gigs are droll, cleverly simple and fun to watch. At any given Cunt Sparrer show, you'll  find Lyons standing behind a small four-legged wheezing contraption known as a Polychord Selector that Cotterill picked up at the Long Beach Antique Market. Describing the sound of the instrument, Cotterill explains, "the one we have has a couple notes that sound like a duck."

Adds Lyons, "anything that you have to plug in doesn't have the same tone as the Polychord Selector. It has such a unique tone you can't replicate electronically." 

Meanwhile, percussionist Evan Sinclair plays little more than a snare drum and another vintage keyboard, which he uses as a de-facto kick drum. The choice of instrumentation yields unexpectedly practical benefits. "On Sunday we played a show where there was no PA, but they said 'it won't be a big deal because you guys won't need one," says Cotterill.

This week Cunt Sparrer will be heading for San Francisco where they will be playing a handful of shows with another group of punk-rock heavies, U.S. Bombs. Are they intimidated? Maybe a little.

"I'm not nervous about what the other bands are going to think, I'm more concerned about their fans," says Lyons who adds, "We're not claiming to be big punks...In this scene, that's hard for some people to wrap their heads around. But once they see where we're coming from and singing these songs with love..."

Upon returning, Cunt Sparrer will be playing more dates in Long Beach, including a July 7 show at DiPiazza's. They currently have plans to record a full length album at the home of Lyon's boyfriend, local Long Beach musician Rusty Cavinder. No surprise, they'll be using analog recording equipment.

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