Photography by Courtney Books Photography, Article by Courtney Brooks
Cyrus Youngman and the Kingfishers.
Cyrus Youngman and the Kingfishers were coming off of an album release just three months ago and things were looking to take off when an unfortunate misstep sent their captain, Cyrus Youngman, in a hospital and a long recovery ahead. Did this stop the band from performing for the six months to a year that it would take for his ankle to fully heal? I got the opportunity to speak with the lead singer about their latest album, Trip to Try, and what we can expect from the band’s future.
Here is the live interview:
Cyrus and his beautiful boot.
The Casba in Broad Ripple has been a home away from home for Cyrus Youngman and the Kingfishers as they perform there the last Thursday of each month for quite some time now. What the band loves about this venue is it has an intimate feeling of a basement house show. This would be the setting for Cyrus’ first show back from injury. The damage to his leg occurred while the band was in Chicago. This should have been one of the highlights of the bands career; breaking out to a larger city, yet one tiny step the wrong way and the lead singer would dislocate and break his ankle. If you have seen this band perform before, you would know Cyrus’ antics of high energy as he dances around and sometimes even leaps off the drum kit flying through the air and landing on the ground. So for him to have such dramatic trauma to his body from one tiny step is disheartening. For some, this would be the end of stage performances for awhile, yet he has decided that although his left leg is in a boot; the show must go on only weeks later.
When I first walked down the stairs to the basement, I turned the corner to see the band setting up; and a crowd of about twenty to thirty people. The guitarist, Matthew Corken was playing double duty that night as he was on the sound board getting everyone tuned up and ready to play the show. Cyrus was sitting in a chair near a corner of the room, in deep thought, his leg propped up on pillows. Friends and fans would take turns sharing love and words his way. It could be seen there was a lot going on his mind. He had mentioned to me this was the first time he had been out of the house besides doctor visits. He had been reading Stephen King’s book It to escape. Rather fitting the novel’s premise is facing our fears and overcoming challenges within life. It had to be slightly overwhelming that the first time out in public had to on stage in front of a spotlight and all eyes upon him. As this was going on within his mind, the band was setting up and playfully bantering one another. That is the brotherhood this flock of Kingfishers has. Each a different type of personality yet somehow they all mesh together and find a way to communicate once their instruments are in hand.
Once all the equipment and gear was in tune and ready to rock out, Cyrus picked up his crutches and cautiously stepped up over the stages six inch high barrier and sat in his chair. Electric mandolin player, Justin Renner, walked over and whispered in his ear; not sure what was said, yet they both began to laugh. The tension within Cyrus went away, a balance of light and darkness could be seen upon his face. He is usually a pretty upbeat guy; on this night though, it could be seen the two weeks trapped within the confines of his house needed to be unleashed. Just then the first note was played, laser lights from the venue began to brightly shine, and the lyrics blasted from his mouth. Limited to a chair, he mentioned frustrations of not being able to get up and move, yet Cyrus would dance within it’s restrictions; picking up his crutches as a prop and shaking them in the air. The energy from guitarist Matthew Corken was unbelievable as he would take moments to step away from the stage into the crowd to jam. Justin Renner, mandolin player, with cool shades over his eyes and a boyish sly smile, that has a way to express that he is really feeling what he is playing. Andrew Roti, the behind the scenes bass player that doesn’t like the attention and steers toward behind his band mates, is a key ingredient as he ties the band together with each stroke of the strings. The drummer, Colin Oakley, sticks pound upon the kit, providing beats the crowd can groove and dance to. Then there is Glenn Dantam, with his long black hair and beard; charismatically floating from acoustic guitar and saxophone. Nathaniel Hood had a smile on his face while in charge of the keyboard and other random sound effects and whistles that adds uniqueness. Let me not forget to mention the deep poetic lyrics that explore meaning of life and the world around us. All of these elements combined, form a special bond and collaborate to make the music of Cyrus Youngman and the Kingfishers.
Cyrus gazes out with happiness.
When I got to speak to Cyrus after the show, we spoke outside away from the crowd and noise. I asked him about the latest album, A Trip to Try, and how he felt after his performance. What he likes most about the album is when the band plays the self titled track, everyone in the room goes quiet and listens to the lyrics and by end are singing along to the chorus. He feels this is an anthem for people. That life, although having it’s ups and downs, is a trip to try. With the injury, he can understand this now more than ever. This isn’t the first time he has had an obstacle get in his way. He suffered from tendentious and was forced to set the guitar down for nearly a year. These trials and disadvantageous experiences are used in his life as a positive though, giving him time to reflect and come up with lyrics to new songs. His biggest inspiration is trying to find a way to connect with an audience and provide an understanding and shed some light on a world that can sometimes be very dark. He wants to be a positive influence and hopes that what this latest album can do for others; giving them a reason to look forward to the next day. Despite any hardships, with this motivation, the band plans on booking many more shows throughout the year and hopefully a few out of state shows on the weekends. You can count on seeing them at the Casba again next month.
When I asked him what makes the band so special, Nathaniel walked by and said it best; “Man we aren’t special at all, we are just a bunch of guys getting together that like each other and love playing music.” If you ask me, the humbleness to the answer is what makes this band pretty special.
Go get a copy of their album on their website www.kingfishersband.com it’s available in both vinyl and cd or digital download!