Although they’ve carved out a unique niche for themselves in the indie community and further solidified their singular take on riff-driven rock music with 2017’s Apocalipstick, Cherry Glazerr aren’t a group to rest on their laurels. With keyboardist Sasami Ashworth having soundtracked short films Light Therapy and Nixon, and guitarist Clem Creevy having contributed to Tyler, The Creator’s Cherry Bomb and Death Grips’ Bottomless Pit, it’s apparent that the group harbors no trepidation when it comes to ventures outside of its insular indie-rock bubble.
I sat down with Sasami, Clem, and drummer Tabor Allen before their set at Des Moines, Iowa’s Vaudeville Mews, a roost for veteran and burgeoning indie rock bands alike, and we spoke about the protean nature of a touring band’s songs, what it means to be an “experimental” group, along with a panoply of other topics. Never a group to take themselves too seriously, Cherry Glazerr are just as alacritous to share their insights in the music industry as they are to find the humor in their visibly nervous interviewer’s questioning style.
How are you guys? How’s the tour been?
Clem: It’s been good.
How long have you been on tour now?
Clem: Six months.
Sasami: More like eight.
Clem: What is this, September? Yeah, eight months.
But the shows have been good?
Clem: Yeah, we love it. We’re road dogs.
So you’ve been touring to support Apocalipstick, have the songs taken on a new meaning now that you’ve been touring with them as opposed to writing and recording them?
Clem: That does tend to happen. They definitely take on new meanings. It seems like when you write a song, you’re projecting what you’re feeling at the time and your feelings are bound to change… I think if they didn’t change then that would be problematic.
Why is that?
Clem: I don’t think I would want to be feeling the same way all the time.
One thing I admire about the band is that between the last album and Apocalipstick, even though you moved to a new label, you didn’t compromise your sound. I think that’s something a lot of bands struggle with; when they sign to a bigger label, they feel this pressure to put out a more accessible album or dilute their sound, but I don’t think that’s the case with Cherry Glazerr.
Clem: Thank you, I’m glad you feel that way.
But I’m curious if you got any notes or suggestions from Secretly Canadian when you were recording the album.
Clem: For the most part, they’re really easy to work with on that front, they let us be super creatively open and the process is very much respected on their end.
How’s your experience been with them as opposed to Burger Records?
Clem: They’re awesome, they’re a good label, they’ve done a very good job.
Sasami, I know you’ve worked on a few short films, doing soundtracking and sound editing, and you’ve also studied classical music. I’m curious if you notice any kind of underlying similarities between doing that and working with a rock band.
Sasami: Mostly this note. [Hums a high pitched note]. It’s in both a lot. I think it’s an A.
Clem: B sharp.
And so, across the board, you always go to that one [note]?
Sasami: Yeah, like in every genre.
The band seems to have this association with lots of experimental acts (Death Grips, Tyler, The Creator). Would you consider Cherry Glazerr to be an experimental band?
Clem: Yes, especially when it comes to playing darts. I’m talkin’ underhand, I’m talkin’ left, I’m talkin’ right in between, I’m talkin’ upside down.
Sasami: Under the legs.
Clem: Under the legs.
So you’ve got all the bases covered, just experimental across the board. Is that a conscious effort on your part to strike this balance between experimental and also a very accessible rock sound?
Clem: What do you mean “balance?”
You have, certainly, very experimental elements, but also conventional rock elements as well and I think you find a sort of middle ground between the two. Or would you disagree?
Clem: I don’t disagree.
Sasami: We like to have fun and we like people who come to the shows to have fun, so I think that’s just what happens.
Clem: Yeah, I don’t disagree. We try not to be too didactic. I think, naturally, it becomes that. Of course, you can’t help but intellectualize some of the stuff that you’re doing, but it’s a nice practice not to.
Tabor: I think there’s experimental music, which is, like, a genre of music, almost like a codified thing in and of itself, and then there’s an openness to exploration and maybe not feeling limited by genre. And that’s experimental in its own way and in a different way, and I feel like that applies more to us.
Sasami: Also sexually.
Sasami: We experiment.
Is that offstage or is that something we’ll see tonight [during the show]?
Sasami: All bets are off.
Clem, you provided the guest vocals on Death Grips’ “Giving Bad People Good Ideas,” would you mind talking a little bit about your experience with them?
Clem: It was super funny, I walked into this all-pink room, there was a giant pile of candy and there were fluffy teddy bears everywhere… they were all smiles.
Death Grips were or the teddy bears?
They seem like pretty affable guys. Did they have any kind of significant or lasting influence on you as a musician?
Clem: I like their music, yeah. I don’t know if they were influential on me, I suppose I’ve listened to them before, so in that sense, yeah, because you’re kind of influenced by everything you listen to.
And you got in touch with from a festival, being on the same festival as them. Is that right?
Clem: I’m sure we have at some point.
Sasami: We do a lot of festivals.
Clem: I saw them play at The Wiltern… in L.A. a few years ago, and it was great.
But that wasn’t how you got in contact with them?
Clem: No, we were actually recording at the same studio and they were next door.
Is that right?
Clem: And they were like [nonsense MC Ride impression], and I was like, “Cool.”
Although the group is seemingly perpetually on tour, Cherry Glazerr show no signs of wear as their exuberance and humor abounds in the short time I spoke with them.