THE BLACK CHEERS
by Kevin Finn
The Black Cheers recently released the excellent 5-song EP Delete Delete, which has quickly become my favorite local release of the year. It’s the rare punk record that does an outstanding job of capturing the raw energy of a live show, for which recording engineer Mike Cunniff deserves some major props. It’s also the first recording to feature Danny O’Halloran, best known for his drumming in Darkbuster, taking the reins as frontman, a task he is more than up for. Also along for the ride is the excellent crew of bassist Michael Swiderik, guitarist Chris Brat, and drummer, Scotty Capellini.
O’Halloran and Capellini were kind enough to brave the cold on the Beachcomber’s patio following a recent show to speak about the band.
Noise: How’d the band get started?
Danny: I’ve been playing guitar for a while, but mostly I had just been playing drums. I had written a bunch of songs and finally decided to put a band together. I have a kid now, so there’s a limited amount of time.
Noise: I hear that kids are quite time-consuming.
Danny: Yes, just the cleaning up of the vomit alone. My kid vomited all over me the other night, a couple of times, actually. It really builds character.
Noise: For you or for him?
Noise: How old is your son?
Danny: Three. I remember one time, we had just recorded five songs, and I played them incessantly. About three weeks passed, and I hadn’t played them for a while. We were coming back late one night. I thought he was asleep, and all of a sudden I hear from the backseat, “Daddy, I don’t want to listen to your band.”
Noise: Let’s walk through some of the songs on Delete Delete, starting with the title track.
Danny: On the surface it’s about deleting your porn cache but really it’s about bad memories that you want to get rid of. It’s not about me.
Noise: No, no, of course not.
Scotty: You would never.
Noise: How about “Like Theirs”?
Danny: “Like Theirs” is about stealing other people’s music and changing it subtly.
Noise: As a positive or a negative?
Danny: A positive. You can’t reinvent the wheel. Nothing was invented out of the ether. It’s just a joke on that.
Noise: There’s a fine line between honoring your influences and ripping them off.
Scotty: We try for both.
Danny: But it is the one that doesn’t sound like anyone else. “Delete Delete” is like Hot Snakes. “Breakdown” is like Stiff Little Fingers and the Clash. “Don’t Make Me Wait” is Rocket from the Crypt.
Noise: Who did you rip off for “Beginning of the End”?
Danny: That’s almost a total note-for-note rip-off of an Off! song.
Noise: That was a quick turnaround if you’re already ripping them off.
Danny: I know! Here’s the thing. I wrote it, and thought it sounded cool like Black Flag but not like any Black Flag song I had heard. Then I was listening to an Off! song later and I was like f**k, but I think it’s just different enough.
Noise: As long as they don’t hear it.
Scotty: Yeah, we can never play with Off! Keith Morris will beat us in the head.
Noise: Obviously, you have a bunch of other songs or else your set would be about nine minutes long. Are those going to get recorded at some point?
Danny: I have a short attention span, which is why most of the songs are two minutes at most. I’m really glad I got Scotty to fill out the drums, Chris to fill out the guitar, and Swid to fill out the bass. When I come up with something, I just come up with the basics. I can do chords, but I have no business doing anything else. I have stuff that I hear in my head, and I’m like can you do “bee-de-lee-do-boop”?
Scotty: That’s the best when he’s trying to explain to Chris how to play something.
Danny: I just say, “Can you play something that goes (more noodle-y noises)?” I’ll come up with a skeleton of the song. I’ll come up with the rhythm of the words. Everyone will add their stuff and then, by the deadline, I’ll add the rest of the words. When I hear the germ of a song, I hear a bit of like what you’d hear on the radio, kind of everything at once, and I have no idea what that is. It’s like I’m plagued by riffs in my mind, so I’ve got to find an outlet. Hopefully, this will quash it.
I’d really like to record the rest of the songs that we do in the set. I have like five more that I want to start, but it’s so hard to practice. It’s like trying to get five cats in a bathtub at once.
Scotty: Or at least four.
Noise: You hadn’t sung in a band before, right?
Danny: Never. I was petrified. It was my worst fear. Just thinking about it would give me the heebie-jeebies.
Scotty: When we recorded, he almost passed out and hit his head from singing so hard.
Danny: Seriously, I saw stars.
Scotty: Our first five shows were to him just like live practice. He just wanted to know that he could get in front of people and sing. I couldn’t do it, especially going from being a drummer where you’re in the background and nobody pays attention to you until you fuck up.
Danny: I hate people looking at me. It’s the last thing I want in the world.
Noise: Alright, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for braving the cold with me.