Photos by Victoria Roper and Robin Christian (B&W)
Contemporary shoegazers Cheatahs have made a debut album (review here) that has graced our stereo in here for the last couple of months. Self-produced and sounding fresh despite a nod to 90s bands such as Swervedriver, this four-piece are not shy of whipping up an incredible soundscape. Dave Palmer spoke to them ahead of release to find out how this long player made it onto vinyl.
Tell us how Cheatahs began?
We all moved to London for different reasons initially but ended up meeting and starting this band because we were friends. Nathan is from Edmonton, Dean from San Diego, Marc from Dresden and James is from Leicester.
Before you all united and formed Cheatahs what were your past musical ventures?
James and I were briefly in a band when we first met but didn’t really get to connect over music again until a few years ago. I’ve played guitar in a few bands as has James and Dean but never in something like this where from the beginning it has been us four. From first show to first album.
Wichita have put out some amazing bands, signing with them must have been a huge inspiration. Have you dealt with labels much in the past or have you kept it all DIY ‘till now?
Signing to Wichita was pretty fun actually. We’d met them and got drunk and talked about our favorite bands, a lot of those bands they had put records out for back in the Creation days. We’d previously put out an EP on Marshall Teller Records and a few 7″s on friends labels.
You’ve always worked without the influence of a producer and called all the shots in the studio yourselves. Were you not tempted to team with a producer for your debut?
We were tempted with getting someone in to do the mixing but a “producer” was never something we talked about. We work in a pretty self-critical way that can sometimes be pretty brutal so a producer would have just gotten in the way, or may have talked us into putting something out we weren’t happy with. At least this time around.
You guys have a gargantuan guitar sound. Who are your guitar heroes and main musical influences?
Link Ray, J Mascis, Kevin Shields, Neil Young.
SXSW, Primavera, a US tour with Wavves and Fidlar, and you also toured with Metz. Are you looking forward to having some time off touring?
Touring is a really great, strange and unique experience. Especially the way we’ve had to tour this year. In a mini van, all in the same hotel room/friends floor. It takes a lot out of you and the whole thing is designed to set you up for 30-45 minutes of fun once a day. Luckily, those 30-45 minutes are usually worth it.
Amongst all your gigs last year, how did you cram in the time to craft your debut? How did you find the trip to the countryside, and why Cornwall?
We stayed in last summer! And it was a decent summer in London as well! After being able to play a lot of the songs live for the first time on the Wavves tour we came back and locked ourselves into Dean’s windowless studio and finished it. The trip to Cornwall seems like years ago. It was a totally different experience than recording the record. That is when we wrote it so our heads were in such a different place than when you are trying to realize it. Next time we are definitely doing it in a studio with windows. Or at least not over the summer time. Conrwall was where we found someone nice enough to let us rent their thatched cottage and make noise all day long. It was in a valley so was fairly secluded. We’d recommend it.
So did the songs on your debut materialize while out in the sticks? Or have you had them down for a while?
A couple of the songs were written in the studio this summer but most of them were the ones we demoed in Cornwall last autumn and tweaked after the USA tour.
Of all the great new bands you’ve shared the stage with over the year do you have any personal favourites? Who do you think is going to make the biggest noise in 2014?
We’ve been really fortunate to play with really nice people this year! Metz are seriously the nicest guys ever and are one of the best punk bands in the world right now. Really looking forward to hearing what FIDLAR come out with next, who are also great guys. Our friends Primitive Parts are getting material ready for a record so we are pretty excited to hear that, and to play with them at our release show at Birthdays in February.
So what’s next for you guys after your debut lands? Where do you want to sail this ship to?
Most probably playing as many shows as we can. Let’s sail to Jamaica, heard it’s nice this time of year!