By Thomas Savage
Tell me a little about how the Cheater Slicks got started.
Dana, David and I started playing together in 1987. We all liked a similar type of crude RNR and we were the only ones we could find to try to play it. Boston had nothing like that at the time. It was all college rock. So the three of us fit well. We were from a similar background also, having grown up in small towns in New England. We weren’t real “city types”.
How come you ended up playing the music you did/do? What was the inspiration?
The inspiration was rock and roll. That’s all. When we played together it came out naturally. As for the crazy noise factor, that’s just the way we played. It’s been the same since we first picked up our instruments. We didn’t set out to create a certain sound. I always liked a lot of song structure. I still do. Ballads and slow songs were important to us also. I like a chaotic element in music, the unknown factor, where anything can happen. The borderline between stucture and non structure is interesting.
What were some of your favorite bands back then?
I started out as a Cramps fanatic. David and I always listened to a lot of early rock and roll. Even since we were kids. When I heard the Cramps something clicked and made sense to me that you could take an old style of music and make it modern. After we moved to Boston, it was a lot easier to find cool records so the influences really spread at that point. We worked at Rounder records distribution which had a huge catalog of older music. This became very influential to all of us at that time. Dana was into metal a little in the early days, but he also liked punk and garage. He was a little more hard edge and experimental than we were in the early days.
What are your favorite bands today?
I’m very happy to see so many bands out there right now doing crazy noisy rock and roll. It’s been slowly building from bands like the Horrors and the Hunches up to more recent bands like Demon’s Claws and The Fatals. There’s really a good number of bands doing interesting things right now. It’s good for us because for years there weren’t many bands we could play with. The 90’s were absolutely dismal. I don’t know how many people realise that. I kind of feel that we brought this type of music through a very bleak time. I’m glad to see a resurgence in it. Unfortunately we don’t have the audience or reputation that a band like the Oblivans have. We’re still much less known. The Oblivians were actually the “second wave” of this type of music in the U.S.. It all started with Pussy Galore/Blues Explosion/Honeymoon Killers/Chrome Cranks/Gories/Gibson Brothers/Bassholes etc. Again I don’t know if people realise this. That’s not to take anything away from the Oblivians.
What do you get inspiration from today?
Survival and writing good songs. The inspiration doesn’t burn in me like it used to, but I still enjoy playing and writing songs and recording. I probably enjoy playing in my basement more than playing live. It’s just easier to relax and enjoy the songs there. I’m inspired by younger people trying to keep crazy rock and roll alive.
I’ve heard a lot about your liveshows - how would you describe a Cheater Slicks show?
Usually too drunken. No … our shows can vary quite a bit. They tend to be quite noisy and wild yet introspective at the same time. People either love it or hate it. Judging by the size of our audiences I would say more hate it! When we are “on” it can be a revelation, when we are not it can be a train wreck. We’ve played so many shows, it’s hard for me to judge them. I do wish people would show more interest in our slower songs. Everybody always wants the fast ones. We hardly do any of our weirder stuff live.
Tell me about the new record?
The new record came out great. It’s an honest portrayal of where we are right now. We did it with no money on home recording equipment. It was recorded in our basement, yet it doesn’t sound overly lo-fi. There are heavy songs and strange slow ones, but overall it is more rocking than “Yer Last Record”. Hopefully it will come out in the spring, if the artwork gets done! I think the record is a solid continuation of all our other records.
What do you think of the garagerock climate today?
I don’t like the term “garage rock”. I don’t care about it. I want music to be from the musicians’ hearts. I do tend to like stuff that is noisier and more experimental. I think there are many bands doing this sort of thing now, and they are to be commended. I do get a little tired of the current “KBD” revival. It just gets so repetitive. But I know young kids like it and that’s a good thing. At least it’s energetic. I have no interest in “by the numbers” garage revivalists. Never have. It has to have some blood in it…
A lot of bands cite you as inspiration like the Hunches etc. What do you think about that?
We are flattered that so many bands have chosen us as an inspiration. It’s a great thing. I certainly don’t expect bands to sound like us. I’m glad that they have found their own jumping off point. And I’m glad we’re still around to play with these bands and not be an irrelevant “reunion” band. Those things get very tiresome to me. We never quit, and our songs are still largely unknown to most people, so audiences (outside of Columbus) aren’t tired of us. This keeps our music alive as well.
Whats on the horizon? You’ve been talking about a tour of Europe..
Europe does not seem likely for the next year. Personal events constantly come up and getting the time to tour becomes more and more remote as we get older. Plus there’s still not much money in it for us to tour, and we don’t have much money period, so that makes it hard. We’re going to try to record a series of improvised “songs” this summer. It sounds pretentious, but we’ve always wanted to do it. It will be noisier in content with a lot less structure. We’ll see how it comes out! We’ve written so many songs, sometimes it’s nice to do away with the structure and see what’s there hanging in the cosmos…
www.myspace.com/cheaterslicks www.cheater-slicks.com www.deadcanaryrecords.com www.intheredrecords.com www.cryptrecords.com