His high school years essentially were a string of missed classes and misdeeds, including a lengthy suspension for launching a water bottle at a DJ spinning music in the lunchroom cafeteria during homecoming week. "I thought the whole idea of him being there was goofy ... and I wanted to do something about it," Cuomo said.
Musically, however, things have been on the upswing for the youthful crew. The band's breakthrough album, the sneering "Remember When," has attracted the attention of local and national tastemakers, and Metallica recently hand-picked the group to perform at its Orion Music + More Festival, taking place in June in Detroit.
Reached in the tour van en route to South by Southwest, Cuomo talked about his run-ins with the law, why he's so afraid of aging and the shock of being chosen to perform by Metallica.
Considering your multiple run-ins with the police [Cuomo also served a two-year probation for his role in a fight], have you given any thought to law school? You could become your own defense attorney.
[Laughs.] Nah. I think I'm going to stick to paying for lawyers.
Since negative press tends to get more play, I was wondering if you've done any good deeds lately.
I think playing shows for people is probably the best thing I do on a day-to-day basis.
You guys actually named "Remember When" for a now-closed record store in Westmont, right?
Yeah. That was our guitarist Matt's go-to spot. I wasn't interested in collecting vinyl at the time, but I recently picked up a record player and started a collection. Having a physical copy where you can see the album artwork is a lot cooler than scrolling through [bleep] on your iPod.
In past interviews, you guys talked about a desire to move to L.A. Is that still the case?
We thought it would be a good idea to live out there for a year to try and get recognized by labels and stuff, but once we started to get recognized here in Chicago it was like, "Well, now we don't really have to leave. We can do this from here."
Do you feel like you're part of a scene here? Is there a sense of kinship with local bands like Smith Westerns?
Hell yeah. Recently they came out to a couple of our shows and invited us to hang with them, which was insane. It was like, "Why did the Smith Westerns come out to see us?" We were confused. It was crazy chilling with them and thinking about how much I listened to their music, and what it's done for me and gotten me through. I try to keep it to myself, but whenever we hang out with them it's still shocking and it still amazes me.
There's a line on "Remember When" where you sing, "We got this fear of aging." Why does getting old frighten you?
Seeing old people, they all seem happy just sitting around and not doing much. It seems like a sad part of life, and I'm not looking forward to it.
What do you consider old?
Probably like 40 is pushing it. That's an old dude.