Chris Blackman e Jordan Sommerlad formam o charmoso duo Volunteer Cheerleader.
O adjetivo "charmoso" é perfeito para descreve o debute homônimo deles, que passeia por entre o dreampop moderno e a new wave/pós punk sofisticado dos 80´s, algo como se o Psychedelic Furs e o Wild Nothing se fundissem numa única forma sonora.
Por entre sutilezas e melodias cintilantes o Volunteer Cheerleader cria um mundo de sons particular.
***** Interview with Volunteer Cheerleader *****
Jordan and I have been friends for 20 years, since we were in grade school, and we’ve been making music together for probably 14 years. We spent our teen years playing in garage rock/punk bands around Ohio. After college, Jordan moved to LA to work in film and I moved to New York to go to grad school for poetry. After a few years, Jordan relocated to New York and we lived together for a year. We started working on demos in our living room that would become the first Volunteer Cheerleader songs.
Q: Who are your influences?
I think we both love and take a lot of cues from original Shoegaze and Dream Pop bands without ever sounding very much like any one of them in particular. We’ve been listening to Loveless since we were about 14 but that sound is impossible to replicate. Basically we like any type of rainy music from the UK, especially Radiohead. Then there’s the American college rock thing: Replacements, Pixies and Guided By Voices are all some of my favorites. Jordan and I both love The Strokes too. Lyrically, I’m also influenced by 20th century American poets like John Berryman and Ted Berrigan, though again, the lyrics don’t sound like either of them.
Q. Make a list of 5 albuns of all time…
1. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars- David Bowie
2. Tim- The Replacements
3. What’s Going On?- Marvin Gaye
4. In Rainbows- Radiohead
5. Aja- Steely Dan
Q. How do you feel playing live?
Volunteer Cheerleader has been a recording project until very, very recently. Only in the past few months have we started getting a band together to make the sounds that we have been recording. Still, we feel comfortable. Jordan and I have been playing together for so long that we can communicate without words on a stage. I know what he’s going to do, and he knows that I’m going to do.
Q. How do you describe Volunteer Cheerleader sounds?
We try to avoid it, whenever possible. It’s hard to define unless you’re a music geek. Definitely Dream Pop and Shoegaze inspired rock, or indie pop, though. In a conversation with a friend I explained, “We’re kids who grew up in punk bands that want to play Coldplay songs.” But this isn’t entirely accurate either. Basically, we love rock music (especially from the UK) in the last 40 years, and our sound takes parts of all of that music.
Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs?
A lot of times our recording process will start with Chris sending a guitar riff to me, which I'll take and play around with, building out the structure, adding synth, drums samples, and a rough vocal melody. After that we'll meet up and properly record all the instrumental elements, all within my 12x8ft bedroom studio. For lyrics, usually Chris takes the first pass based on the temp vocal track, and then I'll revise while recording. From there, mixing, tweaking, rearranging and re-recording takes weeks, and by the end what you thought was the hook of the song often fades into the background and something else takes it place. That's the real fun of it, writing, and rewriting again and again to get to something that you wouldn't be able to come up with on a first pass.
Q. Which new bands do you recommend?
I love Twin Peaks. They have perfected the kind of music we played when we were younger. Alvvays and Cigarettes After Sex, in the Dream Pop realm, are both hugely inspirational. We also love Whitney. Whitney was a band we listened to a lot when we first got together to make early demos. Oh! Also Spirit Club, Nathan Williamson from Wavves’ side project, is something we admire deeply.
Q: Which band would you love to made a cover version of?
First and foremost on my list is “Speak Low,” the standard by Kurt Weill. There’s a version online of Weill singing and playing the song on piano and it’s so haunting. We’ve also talked about a version of “Dream Lover” arranged like the version by The Paris Sisters. Like in Kenneth Anger’s short film, Kustom Kar Kommandos. We saw that at the MoMA in New York a few years ago and it has sort of haunted us.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
More recording, definitely a full-length. Develop more as a live band and get more people listening.
Q: Any parting words?
Thanks for listening, if you do. If not, please listen. Our families are starving. Just kidding—we do have day jobs.