We’ve got another great interview lined up for you today, this time with the lovely lot over at Cherry White! Now, after listening to their latest track ‘Drifter’ and having my socks completely blown off, I just had to get a Q&A with these guys out as quickly as I could! Luckily enough, we got one! So, with a ‘Band of Skulls’ vibe and a fusion of blues and hard rock under their belt, we present to you our interview with Cherry White!
Q. Just for new readers on our site, can you describe what style of music you lot play?
A. We normally sum it up as “contemporary classic rock, steeped in the blues and fed on humanity’s ills.” Which is to say, it’s rock, but not singing the same old banal crap about girls and partying; it’s blues but it stays away from the hackneyed old 12-bar forms and the lyrics where you woke up this morning to find your wife had left and your dog had died.
Don’t get us wrong: we love the blues, and we love classic rock, but we can also see that they’re in danger of becoming quite backward-looking genres. There are still lots of great new artists emerging, but a lot of the time it feels like they’re retreading ground that was trodden pretty comprehensively by the mid-70s. We’ve always seen our writing style less as an homage, and more of a “what if?” – that is, what if we wound the clock back to the sounds of 1972 but then took things off at a different tangent from what happened historically? There are still groups out there breaking genuinely new ground with blues-rock, and we’re proud to be one of them.
Q. You’re approaching your 200th show as we all know, how does it feel to be hitting such a group landmark?
A. You know, it’s funny: it’s a huge landmark, it’s our first time playing this famous venue, and it really is one of these events that validates everything that we’ve worked for this last few years. And yet…maybe it just hasn’t sunk in properly, but it doesn’t feel as daunting as perhaps it should. We’re pretty calm about it – we’re expecting a good crowd, and we know how to put on a good show. A couple of years ago we’d have fretted more about things being planned out meticulously, but somewhere between the 1st and the 199th gig we hit this kind of zen state where we knew exactly what we were doing. So now we’re just getting ready and looking forward to it – we know it’s going to be a great night because we’ll make it a great night.
Q. With such a large amount of shows under your belt, what moments stick out the most from your live experiences?
A. Do we start with the good or the bad? On our second gig, we arrived at the venue and began to suspect the promoter thought we were an acoustic duo – there was a stage area with just about enough room to set up the drumkit, then we could stack our amps on top of each other once Felipe (drums) was happy to be temporarily imprisoned behind his kit. Or there was the night we abruptly ended a residency: we arrived to play our regular slot to find the landlord had quite literally hidden the PA system from us because he was convinced he could run the vocals out through his CD player! And the less said about the endless series of technical failures at our first gig in Bristol, the better…
The good ones more than make up for the bad ones, though – that’s why we keep doing it! There was the night in Cambridge where some volunteers from a local choir joined us onstage to hum the refrain in ‘Drifter,’ and the night in Berlin where we were practically treated like royalty in spite of Ralph’s (bass) dubious attempts to speak German to the audience! But mainly the highlights were at festivals: at Togfest 2014 the crowd mobbed the merch stand after our set and bought every CD we had; at Stow Festival 2015 we provided a raucous backdrop to an actual piss-up in a brewery; and at Planet Rockstock last December we somehow managed to get up onstage on a Sunday morning, in front of a crowd saturated by two days of artists like Inglorious, Rival Sons, Joanne Shaw Taylor – and still bring them back to life, rocking like it was Friday night all over again. Even if Cherry White were to fold after this next show (we won’t, don’t worry!), we’ve probably accumulated enough stories by now to get a half-decent book out of it!
Q. Do you have any advice for young, emerging groups about to approach the live scene?
A. Every gig you play, ask yourselves: will this help to grow our audience? The simple fact is that a band, like any entertainer, lives or dies by its audience, so focus on finding the people who will enjoy your music as much as you do. If someone offers you a gig which they say is “good exposure,” it’s probably not worth bothering – more often than not it’s shorthand for “we won’t pay you,” and the promised “industry types” to which you hoped to “expose yourselves” (not like that) never show up anyway.
You see, we’re all fed this daft myth that you’ll only succeed if you get in with “The Right People” – agents, managers, label reps, and so on. Unfortunately, as we learnt the hard way, it’s all bollocks. The right people are the ones who come to your shows, buy your records – anyone who listens to your music and likes what they hear. From the guy who retweets your video because he quite likes it, all the way up to the girl who drags a group of friends to your next show and badgers you to sign her shirt: focus on your audience. They love you, so love them back.
Q. So you’ve managed to land this 200th performance at the prestigious 100 Club in London, where huge acts such as Odd Future and The Klaxons have performed, what can the audience expect to see when you perform there in the coming weeks?
A. In short: the lost art of captivating an audience. Going back to what we said about winding the clock back to the early ’70s, it seems there was a real skill to being exciting in a live setting, aptly demonstrated by groups like The Who or Led Zeppelin who could take complete ownership of a stage and have the audience eating from the palm of their collective hand. There aren’t many artists out their currently who project that kind of electrifying presence, but the gigs we’ve played this year have confirmed that we’ve managed to tap into that power source. Donata (vocals) now projects a huge personality on stage, flanked by Russell (guitar) and Ralph stalking their corners of the stage like a couple of guitar-wielding vultures, driven by Felipe’s animalistic drumming – people definitely take note when we’re on stage. After all, the more you do these things, the better you get at it – and we’ve already done it 199 times before…
So there you have it! It was great fun putting out this segment today and all the folks at Cherry White are lovely people too, they really respect and look out for their audience much more than any other band I’ve encountered.
With that being said, it’s about time we repaid the gratitude by buying tickets to that 200th performance right now! There will be a link below that sends you right on your way to the best place to buy the tickets and I expect all your beautiful faces to be there that evening, it’s an event you can’t miss!
Buy your tickets here: https://cherrywhite.bandcamp.com/merch/tickets-the-100-club-25th-october-2016
Check out Cherry White’s track ‘Drifter’ here!
Cherry White Links: