Coctails fight retro-rock reputation with exceptional talent

By Noah Lopez

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Back in the day when Combustible Edison was still a bad punk band, way back when Love Jones was nothing more than a bad idea, there were The Coctails.

And while it would be easy to point to the ever-growing success of the Chicago quartet as one of the progenitors of the current lounge scene, they have wisely chosen the hip route of denial. Their self-composed press release attempts to divert attention from their link to the scene ─reading "As an additional note, we are NOT part of the 'cocktail nation,' whatever that is" ─and during a phone conversation last week, group member Mark Greenberg went out of his way to avoid the subject completely.

"I have no idea where that all came from ... I mean, we play a vibraphone, does that make us 'lounge'?" Greenberg retorted.

Like it or not, however, the band dresses in retro suits, their self-owned label is Hi-Ball Records, and their four albums dip heavily into the catalog of cheesy jazz.

The one thing The Coctails have working against the attempts to lump them in with the other retro chill-out acts, is talent. The group has been together since 1988, which has given them a lot of time to master their instruments ... which is saying a lot.

"We have enough instruments for a small orchestra. We literally have about 15 or so instruments with us on stage. There's a lot of switching around," Greenberg said.

And the lounge references haven't exactly hurt the band either. If anything, they've garnered the band more publicity than they could probably pay for, and the band's audiences are growing too.

"It used to be we'd play a town and a bunch of mod kids would come to the show ... just because they saw a picture of us with suits. But now we'll play in California, and we'll sell out. There'll be 500 people there. We had no idea that that many people follow us. I mean, we own our record company ─ we see exactly how many records we sell!" added Greenberg.

The Coctails bring their eclectic sound to the Downtown Performance Center this Saturday in an odd pairing, local pop bands StarCrunch and Wise Folk Malcontent. For nformation, call 628-1650.

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