Keeping it weird
Cucumber & the Suntans is comprised of frontman and guitarist Mike Gilliland, pictured, and drummer Alex Martin. The two collaborate in several other bands, but Cucumber performs regularly at The Yeti, 417 N. Main St.
If weirdness is the goal, then the two-piece psychedelic pop-rock outfit Cucumber & The Suntans is definitely achieving it.
The band’s name should be proof enough, but if not, just take a closer look at Mike Gilliland’s electric guitar while he and drummer Allen Martin are rocking out on stage.
Notice a couple of strings are missing? That’s no accident. Gilliland removes the bottom two strings in an effort to better emulate the baritone ukulele he uses to compose all of Cucumber’s songs.
The band’s early tunes were intended for a short-lived project of Gilliland’s called The Eek Bandits. After that fell through, Martin, who collaborates with Gilliland in several other bands, suggested they try to flesh out the songs and give them new life.
Influenced by legendary groups such as The Beach Boys and The Beatles, as well as more contemporary artists such as Mikal Cronin, Cucumber & The Suntans’ music is characterized by a warm, sun-washed sound with many of the songs focusing on age-old topics such as love and girls.
The laidback lyrics are fun and sweet pop fare, often sung through a distorted, low-fi sheen and backed by a wall of garage-rock bliss.
“I decided the other day that I want to call it ‘motivational music’ even though that’s kind of cheesy,” Gilliland explains. “I want to keep it psychedelic and weird, but I don’t want to complain so much in my music. I want to do stuff that challenges people to do more.”
While the duo’s live shows are somewhat constrained by the minimal uke-itar/drums set up, the recordings on Cucumber’s debut album, “Stoner Prints,” released in late 2013, are full productions with bass, tambourine, organ, you name it.
The band has actually considered expanding its lineup to include more members in an effort to give the stage performance a little more stability and round out its sound.
For now, however, the pair is hard at work on the next couple of releases from Cucumber & The Suntans.
Recording at Gilliland’s home, otherwise known as Auggy Reed Studios, the first is a mini-album made up of 10 one-minute tracks. The second is a full-length follow-up to “Stoner Prints” that is being envisioned as an hour-long suite of songs that flow seamlessly from one to the other, partly inspired by Paul McCartney’s famous medley from the second half of The Beatles’ “Abbey Road.”
Aside from that, Gilliland and Martin hope to take Cucumber & The Suntans on the road this summer, and just generally continue to keep things a little on the bizarre side.
“Allen has always talked about making it more of a ‘show’ — an event — to some degree,” Gilliland says. “We want to get crazier with outfits and lighting, and just as we get more comfortable with ourselves, get a little bit weirder, always.”
The duo performs regularly at the Yeti, 417 N. Main St., and various haunts around the city. Find their next gig at www.facebook.com/cucumberandthesuntans, and look for their new releases coming later this year.
June’s best bets for live music
6/4 Bruno Mars, BOK Center If you didn’t know the name Bruno Mars before his record-viewed Super Bowl performance this year, you most certainly do now. The Grammy award-winning pop star and Billboard magazine’s 2013 Artist of the Year brings his smash hit “Moonshine Jungle World Tour” to Tulsa this month, performing hits from his debut record, “Doo-wops & Hooligans,” and its blockbuster follow-up, last year’s “Unorthodox Jukebox.” Neo-soul/R&B sensation Aloe Blacc will open the concert. The show starts at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7.
6/21 The Avett Brothers, Cox Business Center Brothers Scott and Seth Avett have been crafting beautiful folk ballads and rollicking country-tinged rock tunes together since forming their band in 2001. Eight albums later, the brothers’ music is more moving and mature than ever, culminating in last year’s “Magpie and the Dandelion,” their third collaboration with famed producer Rick Rubin. Special guests Langhorne Slim & The Law will join. The concert starts at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7.
Local powerhouse singer-songwriter Fiawna Forté will release her third album, “mi-MOH-suh-pud-EE-kuh: A LO-FI ALBUM,” at 8 p.m., June 7, at Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. Fourth St.