Here's the Worst Interview with a Band That We've Ever Done
Plus you can stream the new Cherubs track "Fist in the Air" as you follow our path towards defeat.
Cherubs—noise rock's godfathers from Austin, Texas—are back at it again. Earlier this year the band issued their third proper studio album 2 Ynfynyty via Brutal Panda. The record proved to be easily on par with their ugly, down tuned, blown the fuck out and ready to die American rock and roll classics "Heroin Man" and "Icing," and in many ways possibly an improvement upon the original product. It is a pulverizing, devastating record of limitless weight and depth. If time has had any impact on Cherubs' collective songwriting ability and execution, it has been to age it to near perfection.
Recorded during the 2 Ynfynyty sessions, "Fist in the Air" was left off of the record because it employs a slightly different approach than the maladjusted misanthropy that the Cherubs are known for. Vocalist/Guitarist Kevin Whitley describes the song as "an adolescent wet dream of infinite, U.S. Can-do, possibility. Learning to drive, yearning for sex, burning for mall stardom—all manifested in the post-industrial triumph of the individually-wrapped American cheese slice. Stupid yum."
I think I am inclined to agree with Kevin.
While it's instrumental tones are as distorted and doom laden as ever, the song itself is saturated with hooks and melodic sensibilities that the likes of My Dad Is Dead and Sebadoh would be proud to have thought up. It is a driving, top shelf pop anthem that is sure to burrow it's way into your head where it will pull out a beat up lawn chair and take up residence for quite awhile. You've been warned.
"Fist in the Air" is sure to polarize many long time fans of the band, to which Cherubs don't give a single fuck. The song will see a proper release on a forthcoming seven inch (order yours).
I sent Cherubs some interview questions about 2 Ynfynyty, their history and their lives a few months ago. It... didn't go so well. Or maybe it did? It's all a matter of perspective and at the end of the day I choose to view this as a positive exchange. At the very worst the band's response is the most pleasant, colorful "Go Fuck Yourself" I've ever had the pleasure to receive.
Cherubs did kind of answer my questions... I think? Kind of? Maybe? I don't know. You be the judge.
Noisey: So let's get the obvious out of the way first: What have you three been doing for the past 20 years? I know that all of you have played in various projects here and there, but nothing too steady. If you would, please catch me up with your lives from 1994 until 2014; when you recorded 2 Ynfynyty.
Cherubs: No disrespect, but that question is just too hard. Here's a totally irrelevant relevant story instead.
I saw an old friend give the new record big ups on Facebook—and he's a dude that is a real player. And it reminded me of an incident we were involved in. We lived in north Houston in some luxury boonies, and we were both in tenth grade maybe? He was the guy that would sit down and figure out how to play all the guitar parts on Permanent Waves—then he would teach me Entre Nous or whatever. A Farewell to Kings, Love Gun, Fragile, II, and maybe Highway to Hell were my first album purchases from the headshop (inner sanctum)—which was the only place you could get records. When Target came along, we stole records from there, but it wasn't the same deadly evil of going into a headshop and walking out with the devil's music. You knew you were doing something. I had left the Beatles, Nilsson, the Monkees, and Bill Withers behind for a more heavy handed approach to things.
Me and this guy, along with a couple other guys (all names have been changed to guy or dude) had a kind of band for a very brief time. It was over a garage and we kind of wrote stuff and played "Driven to Tears" a lot, and then we'd watch MTV. And then play "Driven to Tears" again. Well this guy and I ended up at JOJOs on some weekday nite. JOJOs was a slightly more cosmopolitan Denny's—because I think it had a bar. We were in there, probably discussing the Dixie Dregs or Eric Johnson or Chad Wackerman like the elusive spotted geeks that we were—and over his shoulder, this guy kept looking at me from another table. He would look at me and then talk to the girl to his right and the similarly aged couple across from him. We were between 14 and 16—those folks were maybe 25 or so.
So after a bit, and many eyeballs later, the guy gets up and walks over to me, leans down, and whispers in my ear, "I'm going to fuck you." Then he turned around and went back to the table, and said something to the table, then looked back at me. They were not giggling, smiling, laughing... nothing. Their collective look was a glazed sullenness that was the seriousness of singular purpose. It was like a still pond cut off from moving water—and maybe even rain.
The person at my table said, "What was that?"
"Nothing," I said.
"What'd he say?"
"Nothing," I said.
Then my person turns around and looks at them. Nothing. No flip off, no fuck you, no leer, no what are you lookin at, no nothing- they don't do anything. Then the guy gets up and comes back over and says "I'm going to fuck your friend; he tell you that?" And my person says "No."
The guy goes back to the table.
So something happened to me when he said it the first time, but it was nothing like it felt to me the second. The first time was like getting hit in the face with an egg in an egg fight. It stings like hell; it's gross, but it doesn't feel real—because the adrenaline is covering the tracks. Now, the second time, when he said it to my friend—I kind of went into a kind of paralysis. I was hot and I couldn't hear very well and my hands were a long way away, and my feet were numb, they were so far away.
As my friend is saying some form of "what the fuck" (I'm assuming, it sounded like woofing), the guy comes back over and says, "We're going to be here all night, or however long it takes," and walks back.
Now I can see second stage setting in on my friend. And I'm starting to want to look around to see if anyone else in the restaurant is seeing this—because I'm a little in disbelief—and I look back at him and he nods a couple times. Those nods perfectly said, "Yes, this is really happening." He knew exactly what I was thinking and then he knew that I knew what he was thinking, because he smiled. And that smile said exactly "yep."
I have never felt as shocked, confused, absolutely not confused, worldly, knowledgable, empty, and scared in that way ever again. It was like the big "oh." Oh, my whole life has been leading up to this moment. Oh, the memorable moments your life leads up to are hellish and dark. Oh, I've had it real good up til now. Oh, I won't be able to protect myself against people who will take whatever they want. Oh, this is a thing that can happen to people. I looked around the restaurant and literally thought, "All these people have been fucked.'"
I knew, technically, what it was. It was the insertion of the penis into the vagina that resulted in making babies—but then it got vague. The details were vague. How did the penis actually get in there? Did the vagina do something to the penis? It seemed so specific, that you'd think there would be more available info on the details. But it just always seemed like territory that was an agreed upon unfortunate or tasteless secret that was not to be talked about. Either frowned or what's wrong with you'd away.
All that "fuck" thought happened in a split second as I was assessing what fucking me meant. I had no vagina—so that really only left one place, and that was a place where things only came out of—at least that I knew of. It seemed like common knowledge that things went into a vagina, but I had never heard of things going into the butthole. And this introduction to the concept made it seem like I was going to die the worst death imaginable.
My friend said, "Look, don't worry. Nothing is going to happen to you. They are fucking rednecks." And I thought, "So, they don't have anywhere to go, all the time in the world, and nothing to do but this." Fuck.
Then my friend said, "We'll tell the manager."
Then our waiter walked up and started filling our water glasses and maybe clearing something - and we both realized, stricken, that the rent we had paid for the time at the table was leaving. They were taking our stuff away, and if we wanted to outwait the fuckers, we better order something else. So we ordered some obnoxious piece of desert - and I think it was Boston cream pie. The thin layered yellowcake alternating with layers of yellow custard or, more than likely in this case, pudding is then seemingly dipped in a dark chocolate outer shell. Then that has a red adornment, like a cherry or raspberry or some other useless last touch. That shit is good already- enough.
That piece of Boston cream pie came and it just sat there. And sat there. And it beaded up with sweat because it had been kept cold in the walk-in after having been kept colder in the freezer. It was coming back down - and sweating balls. The furthest thing from our mind was eating that piece of cake. It became a symbol of the situation we were in.
My friend said - "ok, I'm going to tell the manager." And as he was saying this, the fucker table got up and walked past us. The primary fucker stopped and said - "we'll be outside.", and capped that with a single nod that said "that's fair warning for what is about to happening." It was so matter of fact that it seemed inevitable and foregone. My friend couldn't protect me, I couldn't protect me, the manager of JOJOs couldn't protect me, I was never going to be the same again, and "oh - this is the way the world really is and no one ever told me. Do they all have an agreement to keep the new ones in the dark?" It made me nauseous to think that everybody might be in on it - and I was already pretty nauseous.
So the waiter comes back, and my friend says "that table that just left - they said they were going to wait in the parking lot and hurt us." The waiter says "what?" Friend says, "they said they were going to hurt us." Waiter says - "how were they going to hurt you?" Friend glances at me and says "they just said hurt us." Waiter says "oh." Friend says "and they're waiting in the parking lot." Waiter says, "oh, well I'm going to have to tell the manager," leaves, and we see him conferring with a guy with the tie. Tie guy looks over, says something to the waiter, and then the waiter walks out the front door. Tie guy is just looking at us, folds a napkin around some silverware, looks back at us. Waiter is still outside, tie guy folds another silverware placement. Then the waiter comes back in and talks to tie guy. Tie guy says something and walks off to the back. The waiter comes over and says "there's nobody out there." My friend says, "you mean you didn't see anybody? Or there's nobody out there." Waiter says "I looked around - I didn't see anybody. Yall done with the cake?"
We had forgotten about the cake. It was funny that he didn't ask if we didn't LIKE the cake. In retrospect, he knew why we'd ordered the cake - and eating it had nothing to do with it. We then had a "well, this is it" moment because we knew we had to trust this guy but we didn't, and we knew we had to pay the bill, and we knew we had to try to get in our cars and go home. I remember walking out into the dark and looking up and down the lot for heads poking up - and not seeing any. Then we were looking for heads inside of cars, and we just couldn't see anything at all because it was too dark. And we made it to our cars - we'd parked next to each other i think. And he said something like "call me when you get home." And I thought "yeah, I don't think we're out of the woods yet either."
But I get home, looking in the rear view mirror, and no rednecks. Get to the backdoor with the key, and no rednecks. Get to the bathroom and then the phone, no rednecks. No fucking. I called my friend and we said some relieved things that I don't remember.
The next day, or whenever it was we next saw each other, we could hardly look at each other. It was like we had a secret that we would have to keep forever. We looked at each other with the full knowledge that we had gotten off lucky somehow, and that we would never speak of it again. And we never have.
This record is about the things you bury. You bury good things and you bury bad things. And the things you bury don't stay buried. The saving grace is when the buried things come back up you get to have the good things back as well as the bad things. If you're lucky, by the time they start coming up, it won't matter really which they are - because you've moved on.
The next record will be about moving on.
Hopefully this can mostly suffice for the interview.
Ps - Brutal Panda are great, do what they say. Though we know of those bands, we never really listened to them except for the revolver song and the tremolo song. It feels like a minor miracle that we were able to do this - and that people are liking it is making us feel like little kings. It feels brilliant. Please know that this record is about hope, and virtuous things, and care, and love. We just have a heavy handed, redneck way of expressing it. And yes, we intend to play - and we will do that as soon as we physically can.
Part of a staple of many a good band is that they don't like each other very much. From what I've gathered, you guys broke up after a show in San Diego when Brent and Owen got in a physical altercation while Kevin was suffering from exhaustion. How did you guys make peace and what made you want to be a band again?
Our relationship has been stormy and fairly constant. We've moved around the country and respectively made couples and families - and those things have been partially successful and have yielded a lot of beauty and heartache. We keep coming back because we love each other. I don't have a lot of people that I hang out with - I keep it pretty tite. And the people I end up being around are people that I will love. We seem to get something from each other that we don't get anywhere else - and the result, musically, is this thing that is unquantifiable. I'm glad there are recordings of it, because it's a freaking ghost. Cheers to our assured future.