With country currently among the most popular genres on the music charts, more bands have to find new ways to make themselves sound different from everything else on the radio. This is a credo that Josh Mazour, songwriter and lead singer of Crooks, has taken to heart, going as far as to create a new subgenre to define his band: “bandito country.”
“It kind of encompasses everything,” Mazour said. “We steal from a lot of different genres and try to use it in a way that’s cohesive throughout the whole record: a little bit of South Texas, some Tejano stuff, a little bit of ’70s outlaw country, the Western soundscapes of Ennio Morricone.”
Crooks’ latest record, the critically acclaimed and award-winning The Rain Will Come, features a guest appearance from Tejano accordion legend Flaco Jiménez. Little things like that, Mazour said, make his band one that many people find hard to define.
“We’re a lot different than everybody else in the country scene right now, from songwriting to just the way we the way we use the instruments,” he said. “Not too many bands out there use Southwestern-style trumpets or the accordion or baritone guitar to give it more of a spaghetti Western feel. Once somebody comes to our live show, they’ll understand why we’re different.”
Metro music fans will have a chance Friday night, when Crooks open for Jason Boland & the Stragglers at Wormy Dog Saloon. The band tries to play Oklahoma as much as possible, comparing it to the scene in Austin, Texas.
“In Austin, people take live music for granted, so we try to play outside of Austin,” Mazour said. “Our last couple of times in Oklahoma have been great. We stayed up late and they gave us a bottle of liquor when we left the bar, that kind of thing. We always have a lot of fun.”
Although the band members aim to have plenty of fun, they guarantee that Friday’s audience members will have even more fun. It’s a promise that, true to form, is another thing that makes Crooks different, Mazour said.
“Literally speaking, the energy and the style of our music is something that they have not experienced before,” he said. “I promise we’ll come out and have a good time, and you can’t help but have fun. I know that sounds trite — people say that kind of stuff all the time — but it’s definitely a fact.”