“I’m not that old, but I’m getting pretty wise” — the lyric leaps out, somehow incongruous in The Orwells’ new single “Southern Comfort,” a rock ’n’ roll thrummer replete with girls, booze and other thoroughly fun/debauched pastimes.
According to lead singer Mario Cuomo, however, it encapsulates his experience being part of an up-and-coming band — one that’s composed of a bunch of kids barely out of high school.
“I’m a pretty young-ass dude, so just being on the road and dealing with people and going to f—ing different countries and states and meeting all these people, you just learn a lot about people and street smarts,” Cuomo told MTV News. “I probably learned more on our first tour than I ever did in high school, I feel. More things that I think are going to help me. Now I know how to deal with a lot of situations. I f—ed up a lot. That’s the only way for me to learn, I think.”
If you’ve ever seen the Orwells live, you’ll know that Cuomo will try anything once onstage — convulsing into the crowd, sitting in the sacred “guest chair” during the band’s epic “Letterman” performance and, for a while there, taking off his pants. Sure, he covered everything with a towel — gym class change-style — but he still was apt to stand in front of a teeming crowd, everything hanging out in the breeze. The kids loved it, too, plucking off their own clothes and careening into the pit.
That’s something the frontman won’t be doing anymore, however.
“It’s not even shocking or anything,” he said. “I thought it was kind of lame, actually. I don’t really do that sh— anymore. I’ll save it for after the show.”
The biggest lesson Cuomo has learned, however, while touring for the band’s debut LP, Remember When, was kind of a variation of the classic, “Do unto others…”
“I learned that a good show — or whatever, a good show or song or album — is a lot more important to other people,” he said. “Even if you’re not feeling it one night or some sh–, you have to do your best. There’s a way bigger picture, it’s hard to understand at first, but it’s more important for some kid to have a f—ing sick time at a show than it is for me to have an amazing night.”
That tenacity to keep on making good music — sans slacking — has carried over into the creation of the band’s upcoming sophomore record, Disgraceland, most of which was written in the band’s basement in their native Chicago suburbs. The aforementioned “Southern Comfort” comes off that record.
“I think they’re a little stronger,” Cuomo said of the next batch of songs. “I just probably think that because I’m not sick of them yet. The first album, I’ve heard so many times — they’re still good-ass lyrics but… these new songs, the lyrics are still fresh in my head. So I think that they’re pretty good for some reason. Maybe they’re not.”