Before forming their band Kosmos, brothers Ben and Tim Tonak grew up listening to Pearl Jam and could play nearly every song in the group's catalogue. Since then, the guys have gravitated to Radiohead and Jimmy Eat World, which instilled the act with "a garage-band sensibility with arena-rock accessibility." As a followup to its debut, Ways of Letting Go, Kosmos recorded a five-song EP, which will be available as a free download from the band's website after its EP-release show. We spoke with Ben Tonak about doing the EP digitally.
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Westword: Why are you releasing the EP digitally instead of releasing a CD?
Ben Tonak: Basically, our reasoning for that is because it's an EP. The cost of pressing a CD for five songs by themselves — the more songs you can fit on a CD, the more sense it makes to press them — but if you're just doing five songs, a download makes a lot more sense. People are coming around to the idea of downloads. Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have really legitimized it by releasing albums as downloads only, at least initially.
For us, that freed up some money to where if we're not paying to press CDs, we spend more money on gear or the recording itself. It is a bit of a risk. The pressed CD does give you some legitimacy in terms of when you send around a pressed CD with a barcode and all of that, it looks good, and it's a solid thing that people can hold in their hands. So it is a bit of a risk in that way. We're having Tom Baker master the album. He's done most of the recent Nine Inch Nails albums.
I feel like the goal of a local band is exposure, so we're able to give away our music — that's free exposure. Yeah, people have to go to the site. They can't exactly pick it up at our show and listen to it on their way home, which is the risk that we're taking, but they also don't have to pay $10 to get it. But if they're willing to go home and take that extra step, they'll be pretty darn surprised by the quality of what we've done. We kind of take pride in the fact that no one knows you, and they get your stuff in their hands and they're surprised that it's good — that's a good thing. But if you talk too much and you hype it and it's mediocre, then you lose. It's better to be overrated than underrated, I guess is what I'm trying to say.