Only wantin’ y’all to feel all right
If it helps you get more wild tonight …
— The Cherry Valence
The Cherry Valence’s second full-length album, Riffin’, revives the intensity of an era shot down by the top-40 blitzkrieg of the past decade.
The group’s new album, recorded at Tim Green’s Louder Studios in San Francisco in January and released by Estrus Records, meshes sped-up blues riffs and lyrics about dancin’ and doin’ it to create a sound true to the roots of old-school rock ‘n’ roll.
If there’s any doubt that big-hook rock’s recent resurgence might be faltering in the current boy-band and emo-rock-dominated scene, this act — said to be named after a character in S.E. Hinton’s classic teens-on-the-edge novel The Outsiders, and musically indebted to such rock icons as AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Little Richard and Led Zeppelin — should come as a nice surprise.
Live, there’s gyrating, head-banging and showy guitar. But band members aren’t selfish with their antics — they’ve been spotted handing percussion instruments out to the crowd.
Picture this: a fan with a floor tom, banging along with a song.
The new CD contains the track “Sweat, Sweat, Sweat (All Over You),” and once you see Cherry Valence do their high-energy thing, you’ll understand why the song is so apropos.
“We have many bands in one,” says drummer Brian Quast (BQ).
“Sometimes two drum sets are going,” he explains. “Sometimes I’m singing up front [and] sometimes Nick [Whitley, the other percussionist] sings up front, [with] the rest of the crew adding harmonies and riffs throughout.”
Though Quast and Whitley trade-off singing with drum duty, they’re frequently called upon to do both at once — and often to play keyboards as well. Observing the pair’s onstage frenzy as they go from drums to keyboards to vocals and back again, it’s clear that, regardless of who’s doing what, if a song’s gotta rock, these guys will do whatever it takes. This explains a lot of the band’s charisma, and its appeal (not to mention all the sweat, sweat, sweating).
Rounding out the group are Paul Siler (bass), Jamie Williams (guitar) and Cheetie Kumar (guitar) — on a lot of tracks, Williams and Sumar’s playing sounds more like a harmonic cat fight than lead and rhythm fretwork. The two are not only handy onstage, but also on the road, making up what Quast calls the “Kumar/Williams road-call-van-repair team.”
Garage rock, by its very nature ephemeral, has found a diehard disciple in The Cherry Valence. Touring — two years in an old prison van before their first album was even recorded, and then back on the road again — has turned them into a tightly knit unit.
According to the Aug. 19 New York magazine, these guys are “made to be heard live, so prepare to raise your lighter.”
When the band breaks into “Everybody Wants Some,” they rock the crowd down to the ground — and raise the bar for acts to follow.