Founded back in 1996, CHEECH, the Boston metallic hardcore assault is back with their 4th full length release! Available since May 2013, brings in quality guitar work, catchy riffs and their patent heaviness. One of the must-listens for this year! Play it now, grab your copy here, here or here, and learn more about the band and their new outing in my interview below.
Hey, guys! What’s up? I’m very glad you’re here. Whathave you been doin’ lately? How’s the new LP era goin’?
Just trying to push our new album BEAST FROM THE EAST. We’ve been working on it for a long time. We started tracking drums back in December of 2011, so to finally have it get released is awesome. Can’t wait to get it in my hands. We worked real hard on it, from the writing, to the tracking, to the artwork. It’s by far the best album CHEECH has done. The songs are better, it sounds better. Just a step up in every way, so we are pretty stoked for people to hear it.
Great! Why on Earth did it take you so long to put it together?
The easiest excuse is just doing it piecemeal. Recording a little bit here and there and chopping away at it. We tracked like 25 or 26 tunes for this album. In the end, we finished 18 of them, but we did drums, bass, and guitars for all of them. That took a while. Double tracking guitars. Getting through all the vocals. We can’t camp out in the studio, we have to schedule things around work and everyone’s daily lives outside of CHEECH. Scheduling a bunch of people to do guest vocals and gang vocals. Editing everything. Mixing. Mastering. And lastly artwork approvals, duplication, and shipping. We could have rushed it, but we really wanted to make sure we completed everything that we wanted in the process. As much as we wanted to get the songs released, we would have been pissed if we skipped steps along the way.
Tell me a bit more about the recording process. Was it tough to put it together? How were the recordings and did you work with a producer?
I wouldn’t say it was “tough.” But it was challenging. Some of the songs weren’t 100% percent finished being written, so we were reworking them as we tracked drums. We did 12 days of just drum tracking, getting the best takes. I took two weeks to track all the guitars. Kevin was in and out the studio for about a month getting all of his guitar stuff down. Brad could sing about 3-4 songs a night, double tracking, before his voice was shot. Then we’d take a few days off so he could get back in top form, then go in and sing more. Harry was the one really on his game because I think he did all of his bass tracks in like 2 days. In the end I had to re-track a bunch of guitars because something was weird with my amp and we didn’t really notice that my guitar tracks were kind of fluctuating. It wasn’t terrible, but it would have bothered me forever, so I went in and Re-did like 75% of my guitar tracks in 2 or 3 days. Everything sounded so much better after that. We’ve never worked with a producer, but this was the first time that we had someone else mix a CHEECH record. We worked with Jay Maas, who plays in DEFEATER. He has a killer resume of bands he has recorded and mixed so we got in touch with him to mix BEAST FROM THE EAST. His test mix blew us away, so we went with him and couldn’t be happier with the result. We tend to go big, and Jay kind of reined it in. For example: we recorded with 4 mics on the guitar cabs and Jay ended up only using one mic in his mixes. The less is more approach really worked out this time.
How do you distribute it? Is WTF the only label involved? Oh, and what’s the timetable?
It’s out now! It’s available through WTF Records, also through the band directly. It’s also in distros like RevHQ and Interpunk as well as Good Life in Europe. Hopefully you’ll see it popping up all over. You can also find it digitally on iTunes, Spotify, Rhapsody, Amazon, and probably a few more places too. WTF is handling the worldwide distro of the CD, but we are hoping to partner with someone to do a vinyl version.
Oh, yeah, sorry, I meant the vinyl version indeed.
You stated that, comparing to other bands, you “take a more sideways trajectory covering serious topics such as economic upheaval, revenge fantasies, and paranoia with a cynical slang-laden sarcasm rarely seen in such circles”. Do you feel these subjects are not treated with due seriousness?
Just the opposite. We think that certain subjects are treated too seriously. What we meant was that when other bands cover these topics, they often do so in a very straight forward, no-nonsense matter. When CHEECH talks about them, we usually take a more wise-ass point of view on the subject. I don’t wanna give away all of our secrets, but if you read the lyrics a few times, you’ll get the idea.
Yeah man. Do you have a favourite CHEECH’s take on a certain subject?
It’s different every album, but on this album “Mucho Macho” is a personal fave. It’s about the whole Jersey Shore obsession. It’s a funny song lyrically but musically it reminds me of SICK OF IT ALL.
It’s been 10 years since your debut LP “A Day Late And A Dollar Short” with a lovely brass knuckles on the cover ;) How do you remember those early days?
I don’t remember much of those early days. Except having a lot of fun.
Haha! Fair enough. But if you could go back in time to when you started CHEECH, and give yourself a piece of advice, what would it be? :)
Make more merchandise, cuz people buy t-shirts more than music.
So, I guess you share the opinion that the digital age has killed the traditional record store, don’t you? Do you think that this is an inevitable part of progression, or a serious loss?
I agree with both, it’s inevitable and a serious loss. I miss going to the record store…a lot. Even the ones that are still around, it’s difficult finding releases from the bands I like. Which is funny, because when I first got into hardcore it was hard to find releases by bands that I liked. Full circle.
True. And having been doing this for so many years, how would you compare and contrast the early 00s punk rock / hardcore scene with its current state?
You can argue that Hardcore/Punk/Metal is more popular now than it ever has been. And that comes with both good and bad repercussions. You can see some hardcore and punk bands on some big tours and stages now, which is awesome and I’m very happy for the people who get to make a living off their art, but at the same time, those big shows dilute the pool for smaller bands. Some people don’t like the small, dirty clubs when they are used to the big bright lights. Add to that the fact that less people buy music now and it makes it challenging for some bands to survive.
Yeah, man. I guess punk was meant to stay underground and it musn’t be degraded to popular standards.
Yes and no. Listen, nothing is ever perfect. If you can get your message, music, and ideas across to more people, then why wouldn’t you do it? Sure it’s cool to think punk and HC will always be this small close knit community, but that’s not reality. CBGBs is gone. The Rat in Boston is gone. They aren’t coming back. So just move forward and quit ya bitchin’.
Haha! Yes, sir! :)
Would you refuse to take a bigger stage with THE CHEECH if you had a chance? Just to learn your opinion on the matter…
Hell no. I’d love to play big stages. That said, I’ll take a small stage in a packed club full of people there to see CHEECH dancing and singing a long over a huge stage in front of thousands of people who don’t give a shit and are just waiting for the headliner.
So what was the biggest stage you ever hit with THE CHEECH?
Meh. Nothing huge man. CHEECH is pretty low budget. We’re the audio equivalent of a bad B-movie. Hahaha.
Back to your legacy, which outing would you call a kind of a milestone record for you as a band?
Our second album, KEEP YOUR PIMP HAND STRONG was definitely our break-out moment. We got distribution around the world with that CD and we gained a lot of fans. Without that album and the label that put it out (NGS outta Chicago) no one would know us. That said, I think our 3rd album ANTE UP is a better record overall and I think our new album BEAST FROM THE EAST smokes ANYTHING else we have ever released, but PIMP HAND got us the initial exposure.
And what would you like to see on the good highlights list of this year in a couple of months? What do you expect from 2013?
We’d like to play more shows in new places. As much as time and money allow. We’d like to get BEAST FROM THE EAST in people’s eardrums and hopefully get it out on vinyl at some point. We also would love to get a few new tunes happening. Like I said earlier, we started BEAST in 2011. So we haven’t worked on any new material since then, but now we have 5-6 new songs we are working on, so maybe those will get finished and demoed sometime this summer. Time will tell.
Do you have certain places in mind? What other US local scenes do you find interesting and thriving at the moment?
I’m sure we will play bunch up and down the East Coast, which is awesome because every few hundred miles you are in a different state with a different scene. But I’ve always wanted to get to the West Coast. You can do a whole tour in California if you wanted. And we’d love to get to Europe if possible. Since our label is in The Netherlands it makes sense. I couldn’t pinpoint one particular place as “thriving” but I think underground music in general is thriving. More bands pop up every day across all subgenres. Sure most of them suck, but hey, at least they’re trying, and I think that’s pretty rad.
You can shoot a few names of major suckin’ bands if you want, haha!
Europe, man! That’s what I’m talkin’ about. “Maybe… someday… it makes sense” – you don’t seem like you’re in a hurry to get here :)
It’s all about time and money, man. And having both of them at once rarely happens.
In general, what do you think about the European hardcore scene? What are some of your first association with the punk scene from the Old Continent?
It’s amazing how aggressive music connects people from all over the world, even if they don’t speak the same language. I think my first association with European punk was probably THE SEX PISTOLS and THE CLASH. I love NAPALM DEATH and ENTOMBED who are generally considered metal, but both have tons of hardcore and punk influences. Then you got bands like KNUCKLEDUST and NO TURNING BACK who’ve been doing it for so long. DISFEAR. MAIDEN, haha! I could go on. And I’m not even touching on Black or Power Metal. Shit, listen to some of THE WHO and STONES stuff and you can hear the roots of all of it. CHEECH is into a little bit of everything. It’s all just rock ‘n’ roll.
Damn right! Sightseeing-wise, there’s quite a lot to do here, too, you know? Are there some specific European destinations you’d particularly like to explore?
Anything with a lot of history. Old World shit. That stuff is fascinating. Gimme that plus a hash bar, a pub, and a show and I’m good to go.
Alright, guys. Speaking of pubs, I need to get going! ;) Let’s wrap it up. What’s next for yourself in the coming months as well as CHEECH?
We are just gonna play shows, and push BEAST FROM THE EAST. We have already started putting together some new songs too. Take it as it comes.
We will! :) Are there any final words you want to pass onto readers?
Check out BEAST FROM THE EAST. It is available thru WTF Records in The Netherlands, Good Life Distro in Belgium. RevHQ and Interpunk in the USA, plus it’s on iTunes, Spotify, Rhapsody and Amazon! Or you can email the band and get it directly at: [email protected]
Cool. Thank you so much for your time and good luck with the new release!
Thanks for helping us out! We appreciate it.