Rising from the ashes of Milwaukee acts such as Little Blue Crunchy Things and Big Dumb Dick, The Cocksmiths are Milwaukee's most dangerous rock band.
"We were all in different bands," says lead vocalist/guitarist Ryan Daniels. "I met Matty (Gonzales, guitar), we started writing songs and fell in love with it. Then Bill (Backes, drums) approached us, and that was it."
Not quite complete, The Cocksmiths added the final ingredient, lead guitarist Paris Ortiz. "I walked into the first rehearsal, and saw Billy sitting behind the drums," he says. "I didn't even know he was in the band, and we go back about 15 years."
The guys plugged in, and immediately wrote the song "Black Widow."
On Jan. 21 The Cocksmiths will perform at the WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) showcase at the Miramar Theater. How did this wild band get involved with the WAMI group?
"I sought them out," says Ortiz. "They have been around for a long time, and are reputable. I felt if we got involved, it would be a clearer representation of the scene in Milwaukee."
WAMI's mission is to recognize and educate the accomplishments of individuals in the Wisconsin music industry. Since its inception in 1980, WAMI has produced music business seminars and workshops, and worked to improve communication among members.
"I go to the meetings," says Ortiz, "and I have met bands from Madison, Racine and Kenosha. I'm making contacts, so hopefully we'll play some different geographic areas."
These grizzled veterans have seen it all, and their self-assurance overtakes the listener immediately. "Might Just Take a Murder" has a rockabilly drum beat courtesy of skinsman Backes, and features a devilishly harmonious guitar solo by Ortiz.
On "Black Widow," lead vocalist/guitarist Ryan Daniels shows off his pipes. With an edgy style a la Chris Cornell, Daniels can scream with the best of them. The Cockmiths turn it down a notch with "Bar Room Lament." Vintage, swampy guitar tones permeate the song, as well as sweeping pentatonic leads from Ortiz.
The band's trio of guitarists (Ortiz, Daniels, and Gonzales) creates a unique sound. None of the guys overdo it, creating a rich fullness, rather than something that just sounds busy. Daniels is also stellar on "Lament," stamping earthy blues melodies throughout. Bassist Jeff O'Connor takes his instrument for a walk through the blues, as well.
With this group of heavy hitters, it will be no surprise if The Cocksmiths walk away with a litany of WAMI awards. The ceremony takes place in April at Potawatomi Northern Lights Theater.
"WAMI members - both bands and committee members -- vote for their top choices in categories such as best album, best guitarist, top band, etc.," says Ortiz. "Then, the public decides the winners from who is left."
First up, though, are the WAMI showcase gigs. The series of shows are held throughout the state, all of them including Wisconsin bands who are up for nomination.
The Jan. 21 showcase at the Miramar Theatre includes WAMI member bands Twang Dragons, high-energy rockers Aspen Drive, and 2005 People's Choice Artist Rob Anthony. The show starts at 8 p.m.
The Cocksmiths' Web site is myspace.com/cocksmiths.