What the critics say about Big...

Some reviews of our first effort:

Local Sounds Magazine (Sept 2016):

...The song is “Need Someone (to break my heart),” and they know enough to lead off with their best.  The twin guitar riffing gives way to a statement by the bass before kicking into the verse. Lokuta’s drums are tight, complementing the proceedings with tasteful tom work. The inventive middle section demonstrates Distant Cuzins’ ability to craft a great rock song.

There is tension and release in “Low” while “Wok-Fried Soba” shows their swagger. “Explain Yourself” is classic rock all the way with chromatic dissonance employed to build to the chorus. “We will not explain ourselves / We will don’t have a story to tell / And when the clock rings it’s bell / We will fall like everybody else,” Tierman sings in the middle section which uses time and meter shifts to good effect. A live take, “Ruttin’ Like a Hog” closes the EP in gritty, blues-rock form. A soundman’s lament, it finishes things out on a humorous note, proving that these guys are having a great time in the moment, not taking themselves too seriously.

Isthmus (Sept 2016):

With a sound that’s been called everything from “classically punk” to “classic rock meets rockabilly” to “just straight-up rock,” Distant Cuzins takes influences from their parents’ album collections (Journey, Rush, the Clash, Bruce Springsteen), as well as Foo Fighters and the ska scene.

Big., a new EP produced by the band and engineered and mixed by Dustin Sisson, a longtime mentor for the Foundry’s Rock Workshop program for young musicians. Featuring five original songs, the EP provides a succinct sonic synopsis of Distant Cuzins’ sound, highlighted by the dark, hook-filled “Explain Yourself” and the delicious diss “Wok Fried Soba” — one of the first songs the band wrote.


What the critics say about Need a Light?...

Isthmus (March 2018)

Oregon’s Distant Cuzins seems poised for the big time on Need a Light?

The eight-song, 35-minute album blurs punk, rockabilly and straight-up rock, opening with “Warm Sugar” — a song that not only declares these boys ready to rock but also plays off a food reference. Food emerges as a common theme in Distant Cuzins’ music, dating back to one of the band’s earliest songs, “Wok Fried Soba” from the 2016 EP Big., and carrying over into the new “Gruphs Yamzo,” with lyrics that mention mayo, corn flakes, pancakes, cabbage and jelly.

The lusty message of “So Damn Fine” is conveyed through a dark arrangement and a light reggae breakdown, while the transparent kiss-off “Sweet Special One” evokes that old-time rock ’n’ roll, complete with tambourine, harmony vocals and finger-snapping.

Bassist Nic Tierman’s manic lead vocals on “Let Me Go” and “Stupid Little Spiders” recall Gordon Gano in his prime, and guitarists Sam Miess and Nate Krause play with the kind of youthful abandon that’s propelled lesser bands to fame. Drummer Ben Lokuta holds it all together.

Local Sounds Magazine (March 2018)

 It’s Distant Cuzins’ self-proclaimed mission to carry on the tradition of their forefathers and there is no reinventing the rock wheel here, just straight-ahead riffing with a solid rhythm section and the self-assurdness of their idols. Nic Tierman’s vocals have matured, his mix of George Thoroughgood cockiness and Mick Jagger swagger is convincing. Tierman’s bass comes to the fore in the first two numbers. “Warm Sugar” screams out of the gate while “So Damn Fine” follows it up nicely. 

 Though their songs are strident, the Cuzins are deft at employing rhythmic change-ups that keep things interesting. “Don’t Wait for Long” is a prime example, a jagged rhythm in the verses with a punky chorus shout out. And just like that they go all rock ballad in the middle section. In this way they set themselves apart, displaying more ingenuity than the average rock band, going the extra mile for the attention-deficit world around them. The drama continues into the next song with a spoken-word intro outlining a bleak-city character named Gruphs Yamzo. Tierman spits out the vocal in punk-rap fashion while the twin guitars of Nate Krause and Sam Miess syncopate in the left and right channels. Ferocious. 

... Distant Cuzins not only pay homage to idols who did their thing before the band members were born, they carry the flag of this strong Madison tradition into the future. Their generation is now showing its mettle, proving that there is good reason to trust in days to come. They’re not backing down and more power to ‘em. It’s good for rock and roll, it’s good for Madison and, frankly, it’s good for the country. 


From Madison Magazine

April 2017 - "Six Madison Music Acts to Watch"


The high-energy pop-punk of Distant Cuzins, all four members of which are seniors at Oregon High School, got people thrashing on the dance floor at a recent show at The Frequency. 

Having played more than 100 shows in their five years together—including the Harley Davidson stage at Summerfest—they had no problem starting their set after 10 p.m. on a school night. 

“Whatever. It’s second semester, senior year,” drummer Ben Lokuta said with a smile and a shrug.

That means the Distant Cuzins—Lokuta, Sam Miess on lead guitar, Nic Tierman on lead vocals and bass and Nate Krause on rhythm guitar—will have to decide what will become of the band after graduation. Lokuta already knows he’s heading to McNally Smith School of Music on a scholarship.

At The Frequency show, the band played a song so new it didn’t have a name. “Let’s call it ‘Teenage Angst,’” Tierman says. And after singing another Cuzins original, “Sweet Sweet Special One (I Never Want to See You Again),” Miess told the audience, “What else am I going to write about? I’m in high school.”

That won’t be true for much longer. But these road dogs are too seasoned and have too much fun playing together not to figure out what will come next.

More kudos...


Here's some of the awards we've gotten...

  • 2015 Launchpad Battle of the Bands Runner-Up
  • 2015 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Rising Star Nominee
  • 2016 Rockonsin Battle of the Bands Wisconsin State Champion
  • 2016 Madison Area Music Association Breakthrough Artist of the Year
  • 2017 Rockonsin Battle of the Bands Wisconsin State Champion
  • 2017 Kilbourn City Live Battle of the Bands Champion