Interview: The Cherry Wave

This article was first published by The 405 on July 14, 2015 as part of Glasweek. You can access the original article here:

Glaswegian rock band are next up on GLASWEEK. Back in February, following the release of their debut album, , we spoke to Paul and Adam from the band to get the lowdown on the recording process and how the response to the album’s release has resonated with them in the last few months.

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First off, how are you both? Good day so far today?
Paul: Not bad, man. Freezing, pretty hungry and annoyed at idiots online — standard.

Adam: Not bad thanks. I’m ill, it’s about minus 5 and I just got snowed on, but hey, welcome to Scotland.

What would you say your reasoning is for creating music?
Paul: I genuinely feel like I have no choice. I’ve been through patches of not being able to create anything, due to personal circumstances etc. and I find that it really affects me badly. I’ve learned that not doing it just isn’t an option for me. The lowest points in my life are one hundred times more painful and difficult to cope with when I can’t express myself creatively and the happiest times in my life are magnified and lit up by being able to physically let out that joy. I’m not a big socialising type, I spend as little time as possible in large groups and I don’t enjoy most people’s company, so I don’t have that thing where everyone’s sitting around letting off steam or laughing at things that have happened to them. I prefer to express those things in other ways.

Adam: Primarily — and this is such a rubbish thing to say — from a very pragmatic point of view, it gets me out of the house. I’m at an age now where I’m forever fighting the fear of falling into a routine of go to work, come home, have dinner, watch TV, go to sleep, get up and do it all again. Not that everyone has a choice, of course — if you’ve got kids then fair enough, you can hardly be expected to go and do stuff every night — but I had a period in my mid-to-late twenties where I allowed myself to get stuck in a rut. Just getting in from work, then sitting around being bored and moaning about it when it was absolutely nobody’s fault but my own. What a dick.

The more compelling answer is that I’m really fascinated by and like being part of a creative process that involves the same people over a significant amount of time. I can’t claim to have had that fascination before I started playing in bands so it’s obviously been born out of being in that environment, but it’s probably why I always try to do it, whatever else is going on. I like the possibilities that come from taking a half finished idea to a group of people and seeing how it mutates from what it was to whatever it becomes, and the sort of weird nervous thrill that comes with handing over an idea that may well be rough around the edges but that, in all likelihood, you’re already pretty pleased with. Sometimes I just like being a cog in someone else’s machine, as well. If someone else in the band has an idea of what the drums should be on something they’ve written then I’ll try my best to stick to it. I like the discipline you have to exercise in that regard, to be a slave to the song rather than just projecting something on to it just because you want to. Everything should serve the song, ultimately.

How did you come about as a band?
Paul: I had been in hardcore bands and doom bands and I wanted to do something different, something with more broad strokes, with more space for experimentation and melody. Something more beautiful, but also something more sonically engulfing. So I put an advert on Gumtree looking for musicians who might be into it, Adam (drummer) replied and off we went. After a few false starts with morons and time wasters (as is customary with Gumtree) I decided to ask Billy, who I had done a little bit of work with before if he would play bass. Thankfully he said yes, which meant we could really kick on with the band, because he’s a very active contributor to the process.

Adam: I’d only moved to Glasgow about six months prior and didn’t know anyone, so joining a band was top of my list of things to do, just to stop me from going nuts more than anything. It took a while for one to come along that I liked the sound of, but as soon as I read Paul’s I got in touch and he sent me some demos which blew me away. Not quality-wise — they were just shitty iPhone demos — but the advert mentioned Shoegaze and noise stuff in general as a starting point and after about five seconds of the first tune I was thinking, “yes, this guy GETS it”. I wasn’t heavily into Shoegaze as a genre — still not, really — but you could tell he was well schooled in it and had a genuine affection for it. The tunes came across as though they had been written by someone who’d put a lot of thought into them and hadn’t just got a couple of guitar pedals and turned his amp up really loud.

We tried looking for a bassist but the only guy who was interested turned up wearing all-white trainers, which I think we can all agree just isn’t on, so Paul got Billy involved as they’d played together before. Billy joining was very fortuitous as he’s such an awesome all-rounder — performance, writing, production, the whole lot — I’m not sure it would have ever got going as quickly as it did without him, to be fair.

Paul: We put out a demo, then got another friend (Dave) to join on guitar. We recorded our EP with that line up. We then decided to add a third guitar and got in another friend, Ryan. Dave decided he wanted to do other things, so we just stayed with two guitars and a while later we recorded our album Avalancher.

What’s the general response to your music from the public? Are you lazily compared to My Bloody Valentine every time you turn a corner? (If not, who are you compared to?)
Paul: Yeah, My Bloody Valentine is a constant one. Dinosaur Jr., The Jesus And Mary Chain. The general response in Scotland is total apathy and disinterest, if I’m honest. No one gives a fuck. The majority of people who buy our music online are people from North America, South America, Russia and Japan.

Adam: We get Dinosaur Jr. comparisons quite a bit, and although they’re less associated with the shoegaze tag than we are, I can hear more of them than My Bloody Valentine in our stuff. We supported towards the end of last year — they’re a band we all really like and as a contemporary reference point we get them quite a lot. Again, I can hear that. We don’t really have any of that jangly, spaced-out-ness that a lot of early nineties shoegaze bands had. We’re not very hippy.

How do you feel about Avalancher now that it’s been out in the public domain for a bit?
Paul: I’m happy with it, but you live and learn and there’s tons of changes I’d like to make, and things we’ll do differently. We certainly don’t think it’s the best we can do or will do. We fully intend to make better records. Time and money limitations are a real bastard when trying to make a record like that. We want it to be big and expansive and all-encompassing and have lots of hidden melody and whispering guitar overdubs, but if you want to make a record like that you need to be rich, have a rich label, or have a rich daddy. We have none of these. So we made as good a record as we could in three days. Someone should give us some money and time in a decent studio and let us make a fucking massive fuzz universe of an album.

Adam: It’s getting a physical release on very soon, so it’s kind of coming out again — but we recorded it almost a year ago, so for the four of us it feels like it’s been around forever. It was a relief to finally get it out. It was stuck in mixing hell for quite a while but that was just a consequence of not having any money and trying to do everything as cheaply as possible. The reaction was great — it feels strange saying that as, for a band of our nature and reach, ‘the reaction’ amounts to the opinions of a handful of people, really — but we actually had complete strangers anticipating it beforehand. People on the other side of the world were getting really excited by the prospect of it — and even though it was on a very small scale that sort of freaked us out a bit. It’s such a strange feeling to think that you might disappoint someone you’ve never met, so we had a couple of mini-panics about whether it was any good or not, but we’ve not heard a bad word said about it, which is great. It feels a bit weird to point this out, but it is so reassuring to hear strangers say nice things about stuff you do when we live in a world that usually cannot wait to tell you how shit everything is.

Your music struck me as having quite a lot of punk stylistic features, which I found to be quite a surprising connection to make. Am I right in saying you’ve taken inspiration from that area?
Paul: Massively. It’s our main influence. Obviously it’s shoegaze, but it is, to us, punk music. It’s in my blood, I worship Crass, Black Flag and Rudimentary Peni. We also take a lot of influence from black metal and noise, but that’s not as sonically blatant as the punk influence. It’s like beautiful punk music!

Adam: I think we take influence from that area more than anywhere, to be honest. I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise. It’s definitely where all four of us meet musically — we each have similar tastes, but there’s also a lot of stuff that one of us will listen to that won’t interest everyone else. Punk rock is where we all totally agree. As far as a playing aesthetic goes, I would argue that just comes from all of us being completely untrained. It’s not a conscious decision. I guess we naturally just try to replicate and rip off what we’ve spent most of our time listening to, and punk rock represents a big chunk of that time for all of us. I’d say that’s all punk really is though, just a celebration of not doing things properly, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to be. You can’t try and play punk rock — someone’s going to suss you out quickly.

I hate getting wrapped up in genre names and their characteristics too much. I’d happily describe us as a punk rock band — it’s a nice general term, and it probably tells you more about what you’re not going to get than the specifics of what you are going to get — but I know the way we sound won’t always fit in with what everyone else thinks a punk rock band is. If I told someone who gets their definition of punk rock from Q magazine that we were a punk rock band then I’d probably end up in some tedious back and forth debate. Some of our songs are pretty long and pretty slow, but I’d still say they were punk rock.

Image taken by Gav Lawrie.

Do you have influences from outside of music? TV, books, films, food, locations you’ve visited?
Paul: When I started putting the concept for the band together it was always, in my head, a band that would be obsessed with and in absolute awe of Glasgow, and when I wrote the first songs and lyrics all I could envision was Glasgow, with its glowing red tenement buildings and its rain soaked streets. I find it an incredibly inspiring city to live in and I draw from it consistently. I grew up in the east end and when I was young I hated Glasgow, I found it so hard to feel affection for the place, and could only see the poverty, the anger. The intensity of the place wasn’t something I found any comfort in, but when I grew up, I discovered that Glasgow has so many things that are just breathtakingly beautiful and uplifting. I was cut off from that, because the area I lived in had been ground down by poverty and the people had been abused and bled dry. A lifetime of punishment for nothing more than being born a working class Glaswegian. I understand why people there are so intense now, but when I was small, it was too much.

From the outside it seems that Glasgow’s music scene primarily produces guitar bands, would you say that’s true?
Paul: I honestly don’t know. Personally I’m not a big music scene guy. The bands we play with and the bands I know are guitar based, but I suppose I wouldn’t really know if that’s typical of the scene or not.

From what we can tell, the scene seems to be incredibly DIY, is that fair to say?
Paul: Again, I don’t really know, I know lots of folk are creative and there always seems to be cool wee labels doing interesting things I suppose. Again though, we aren’t even on a Glasgow label, we’re on a Texas label. My love affair with Glasgow is pretty one sided I think, but fuck it, we’re doing our own thing anyway, and we’re not trying to be a part of anyone else’s scene or clique. That’s the worst thing in Glasgow, all the cliquey arse kissing and people falling over themselves to praise their mate’s shit band.

Do you think what’s going on in Glasgow right now is something quite unique?
Paul: Probably not. There’s probably loads of places that have lots of cool bands and labels etc.

Would you say that the scene functions like a community, or is it a load of bands doing their own thing?
Paul: We certainly do our own thing. If it’s a community then I’m definitely not a part of it, and don’t wish to be. I want people to listen to us, and hear all this stuff that we’ve put so much effort and time and sweat into, but I don’t want a load of people in a “community” telling me they like my band, so that I’ll tell them I like their band. I want people who don’t have any idea who we are to listen to us. I want genuine interest and affection for the music, because that’s what I do it for, not to impress anyone I know or to improve my standing in a community or scene.

Where do you see yourself as a band in the future? You’ve got an album out there, an EP, a growing fanbase. Is the future exciting?
Paul: We’ll likely not get much ‘bigger’, but our main ambition is just to make better music. To make more music that we’re happy with and excited about, to create a back catalogue of songs and releases that are interesting and rich and honest. The future’s exciting to us, yeah. I love this band, I love our music, our imagery, the people in the band, I love everything about it, and why the fuck wouldn’t I? We created it, from nothing, from an idea. A germ. I think that’s something a lot of bands don’t have nowadays, a genuine love and pride for what they’ve done, and lots more bands should have that because there’s some great bands, but I feel like sincerity in music is now a dirty word and to be avoided at all costs. It’s been replaced with dim-witted humour, consisting of knowing winks and dreary jokes. Lyric writing has been reduced to clique impressing nonsense and bland, meandering, whimsical gibberish. Either no one has anything to say or no one has the guts to say things that really mean something to them. Our songs are out there and every lyric is like cutting open my chest, looking directly into my blood-stained corpse, taking out my heart and holding it in your hands. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Adam: We’re just trying to crack on and write some new tunes. You have to try and keep things interesting for yourselves, so just banging out an EP or another album might become a bit of a stale routine if you’re not careful, but thankfully for us opportunities to do interesting things have cropped up organically in the past, and we’ve got a couple more on the horizon. Paul and Billy put together a four-way split digital EP that we had a track on a while ago, and there’s talk of doing something similar again with a couple of different bands, maybe with physical copies this time, a 7" or something. We’d like to go to Japan, if anyone can make that happen, and by make that happen I mean ‘pay for it please’. But yeah, just write some new tunes really. That’s all that matters, isn’t it? Get creative and just write some tunes.

[This interview was conducted in February 2015 via email, the photos were taken by Gav Lawrie and are really fucking awesome.]



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