Cherubs are guitarist Kevin Whitley, bassist Owen McMahon and drummer Brent Prager. Kevin sings.
BP: To the best of my recollection, and that’s not saying a whole hell of a lot, the conversations started circa 2004 when I started getting hit up by CRAZY ITALIAN SUPERFANS on MYSPACE. Kevin and I probably had at least 40 conversations about the idea of reforming, the result of the first 38 being a LOT OF LAUGHING AND FUCK-NO’S. Planning trips to the beach with our families was much more attractive than the idea of having a reunion show, Ugh the fucking word, REUUUUUNION, yuk. And all the while there was talk of a tribute album being put together. It was hard to believe that it would ever happen… but then we got the call asking for liner notes and any pictures we would like to include, and it was like ‘Oh shit! This is really happening! COOOL!’
BP cont: If you’ve ever had complete strangers in 20 different bands work for 10 years to compile a tribute record of your band, then you know how fucking amazing it feels. Best compliment ever. AND THE ICE STARTED TO MELT OFF OUR HEARTS. Then, in the same year Kevin had the Big B-Day that slaps you in the face with your own mortality………..And Owen was in town after all, (his position always being that we should reform) so conversation 39 was IIIIF WE EVER DID IT WE WOULD NOT EVER PLAY LIVE ON EXCLUSIVELY OLD MATERIAL. Whitley and I had been fiddling around jamming on guitars and vintage drum machines for a few years and we lived two blocks apart so the transition to writing CHERUBS material was just a matter of whether CHERUBS-LIKE SHIT started coming out of Whitley or not. And when he put his mind to it the shit started flowing big time. And it was on. I’d say Kevin is the least changed one. He never really made that bad of a mess that needed to be cleaned up.
WW: Was it hard to get back in the groove after such a lengthy hiatus, and how long was the hiatus?
BP: Last show was ’95 I believe, so that’s around 20 years ago. It was very weird at first. I mean we’re such different people now, hoping to make similar music by the same processes as 20 years before, but without the brutal lifestyles driving us anymore. Would we still be authentic?? And the attention we had gotten over those 20 years was hard to grasp. We were getting passed down to little brothers and sisters and being called things like noise rock icons……..HAHAHAHA! And I was like fucking great, we’ll never live up to the hype. A proper amount of fear didn’t hurt a bit in this case though. I think the new record turned out pretty damn good.
WW: Your first 3 albums, Icing, Heroin Man, and the compilation of rarities and B-sides called Short of Popular were all released on King Coffey’s Trance Syndicate label. How did you guys hook up with King Coffey initially? What happened with the Trance Syndicate deal? Is Coffey still involved?
BP: King is involved in that he and his partner in life, Craig Stewart, always have been and always will be the 2 foremost supporters and promoters of CHERUBS……and incidentally, 2 of earth’s best dudes.
WW: You recorded the reunion album 2 YNFYNYTY on Brutal Panda Records…How did you guys hook up with them?
BP: Owen was the portal. Red Fang covered our song CARJACK FAIRY. Red Fang is on Relapse Records. There is an adorable little gay hipster named Bobby at Relapse who likes us and he co-owns a boutique noise label called Brutal Panda. Facebook brought us together.
WW: WTF does 2 YNFYNYTY stand for? Haha.
BP: Cmon Wendy. You got at least 2 degrees that I know of…turn some of those Y’s into I’s, pronto. It means we are Cherubs, Incarnation #2. It means we can be Cherubs forever and ever.
BP: Couldn’t have done it without him. MCGRUMPY, MCCRUSTY, MCLIBERAL, MCKNOWLEDGABLE, MCOLDSCHOOL. Love that guy. Hope to record the next one with him too.
WW: You guys had a relatively short run..forming in 1992 and then breaking up by 1994. What instigated the breakup? I read in the AllMUSIC biography by Patrick Kennedy (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/cherubs-mn0000111739) that it was an all-out brawl during a show in San Diego…
BP: Hugely exaggerated, but there WAS an altercation in San Diego, outside the Casbah after a long bourbon soaked tour. It was a swing and a miss and a quick pin down, nothing more. We continued playing shows all the way across the desert southwest so it couldn’t have been that bad. For whatever reason, Cherubs wasn’t working for us, and we all proceeded to spread out about the country quickly after that tour. Kevin’s marriage was getting weird, they checked out Minneapolis for a while. Owen went in search of good opportunities in chefistry in San Fran then ended up married in North Carolina. A girl sort of broke my heart, ehem, so I booked it up to NYC. Yeehaw! We are all back where we belong in the city of 900,000 hipsters.
Kevin: I remember being mad about our respective bands at the time. They seemed to be doinky, calculated, and not fully crystallized. I remember wanting to FEEL the weight of it, and wanting to get lost in the tornado of it – and our bands weren’t doing that kind of thing. We would talk about it during our shifts at the food coop. We weren’t being swept away, and we desperately wanted to be thrashed clean. Half a rat came from that. We were still little dorks – so the name had to capture our chubby, well intentioned, powerless squalling. We needed to drown out our uselessness, and look! We still do. Only now with more purposeness
WW: Your second album Heroin Man was heavily influenced by the heroin-induced overdose of Dave DeLuna. What’s your fondest memory of him?
BP: One sunny Saturday we were riding around Austin and screeched to a halt when Dave saw his Piece De Resistance sitting out at a yard sale. It was a red furry round (or was it heart shaped?) bed with a headboard that arched up and out and loomed overhead, complete with speakers mounted overhead and small end tables attached on the sides…clearly used in porn. He and I used to pass out a lot together I guess because our first reaction was that the 2 of us could both sleep in this gargantuan bed without even feeling gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Anyway, I had never seen him so excited to make a purchase. He was giddy.
Kevin Whitley: Dave slapped me in the face one time at a show in Dallas. He was drunk and off balance and still surprisingly strong. I think he was being friendly – but my ears were ringing for quite a while. I liked Dave less after that, and then he died and I felt very small and petty. Which, turns out, is a very normal everyday feeling.
WW: In 2013, Unfortunate Miracle Records released a Cherub’s tribute album titled, Everyone’s Dead Before They Leave: A Tribute to the Cherubs…how did this come about? What’s your favorite cover on the tribute? Or does it change? Doesn’t that make you feel badass??? Being recognized after all of these years?
BP: As I said before, it was a catalyst in getting us back in the studio. There’s some badass shit on there for sure. Some more badass than others. But very interesting and solid. IDK HTF they got it all together. Shawn GRBZSBZYZB, the curator of the comp, was travelling around cleaning fucking office building floors at the time he was corresponding with everyone involved. TIP OF ME CAP TO YA SHAWN!
WW: You guys have lived in Austin almost (if not) 30 years plus now! What are two things you miss the most about Austin of twenty years ago? Any changes that you think have been for the better?
BP: I miss there being 5 people at Camel’s Hole (Campbell’s…whatever). I miss there being enough water to jump off the cliffs at Marshall Ford Marina on Lake Travis…but the food and kombucha situation in Austin has really improved.
WW: Do you guys plan on doing any shows or tours in support of the new album?
BP: Yes indeed. That’s the funnest part. Where can we buy whippits these days?
WW: I know you guys are all lifer musicians…what other projects are you actively involved in these days?
BP: FUCKEMOS since ’96. And I jammed with Dave Rogers, Rigo the Bobo Perez and Mike Flannery for a while but we fizzled due to horrendous schedule conflicts. There is one mind blower Dave Rogers wrote that came out of those sessions that Husker Du will be jealous of when it gets recorded. I also have a side project with me on guitar called Dallas Foxes. Hopefully Kevin and Owen agree to be in this band too. It’s still in the ideological stage, but it will be a well deserved tribute to my uncle Jerry, and if we’re lucky, we’ll sound like the Lee Harvey Oswald band. They don’t know it but we have 2 songs so far. My Fuckemos bandmate, Sean Powell, and I wrote a catalog of hits that must see the light of day too. Someday.
WW: Any plans for upcoming splits with any of your other bands, like Fuckemos or Ed Hall?
BP: No but I’d like to do a split with Gary and Nathan’s new band, We Am the Asteroid. Or is it We Are? I like We Am better.
WW: How do you spend your free time and what do you do as “day” jobs?
BP: I am in my 20TH year as a production foreman for the largest event company in conventions, trade shows, and face to face meetings of all kinds. When I’m not cruising Ebay for Puma 917’s or hanging with my family (one wife, one son, one daughter, and 2 poopers) I mostly like to meet for breakfast at location 1 or lunch at location 2, as all 224 lbs of me can attest.
WW: If your house was on fire and you could only take 5 records, what would they be?
BP: Well shit. One would be the first Boss Hogg album (if Kevin had ever returned it), Zen Arcade, Vincebus Eruptum, Live at Budokan, Millions of Dead Cops, Best of Jimmy Rogers, Best of Roger Miller. Goddammit Wendy, this question is too hard. Pass.
WW: Who or what first inspired you to pick up an instrument and start playing? What was the instrument?
BP: I wanted to be Ace, Jimi, Keith, and Alex (Lifeson, not Chilton) – guitar.
WW: How did the Cherubs originally come about? Who came up with the name? Were you going for a particular style?
Kevin Whitley: We have a similar combination of fuck-it-all goofiness, low self-esteem, and high taste. We’re snobs that hide in the shadows and snicker at everybody else’s folly or success. We think we’re better than everybody else, but we’re wussy enough to dodge any blow-back. So the noise thing is really just jazz hands for our Katy Perry songs. We really want to be MIA – but we’re only Katy Perry hiding behind loud sharp confetti and black ice cannons. If we can’t have us – then by God, no one can. You have to like us in just the right way – or we’ll slink off for another twenty embarrassing years. My daughter and I once told my wife /her mother that she was just a redneck that thought she was better than everybody else – and we made her cry. That’s Cherubs. Hurt the ones you love by using truth as a weapon. That’s Cherubs.
BP: Live shows far from home, more pretty but ugly, hard but soft hits and non-hits, all of some consequence. My Dad always told me how important it is to have something to look forward to. I didn’t have the heart to tell him you can’t end a sentence with a preposition.
WW: How’s 2 YNFYNYTY been received so far?
BP: Really really well. If I’m dreaming please don’t wake me up.
WW: Any words of wisdom to aspiring Austin musicians out there?
BP: Get your jollies playing shit that’s fun to play any time. But when it comes time to write, write songs you’ll want to listen to.
WW: Final shout out to die hard Cherubs fans (and new ones)?
BP: We are going to make every effort to do this up right. To not implode, clam up, or limp along. Fucking thank God for yall or else I’d be making a load list or a labor call right now.