London trio Cheap Meat are good for unexpected stories, like how they met at a pub quiz hosted by ex-Coronation Street star Martin Hancock (yes, really). With their debut album now here, Ross Drummond (vocals and guitar) lets us in on a few behind-the-scenes tidbits from their time putting it together.
A lot of life happened between recording the album and releasing it
We made the record back in 2017/2018, simpler times, Trump, Brexit, you know, the classics! We were geared up to make things happen, but between label partings and life happening, we got waylaid... Matt had two kids, Ross created a Comedy Label (which is releasing this LP) as well as a successful monthly night, and Pete found success with his Afrobeat hip-hop alter-ego Makola. What else? Pete got diagnosed as bi-polar and Ross with severe depression and anxiety. When life calmed down (ok, came to a juddering halt) with lockdown, it gave us the headspace to finally take stock, plan and execute the album on our own terms.
'November Rain', 'Hotel California', 'Champagne Supernova'
Pete and I became obsessed with massive, end of album songs, we recorded in Cambridge with Matty Moon (Lonely The Brave) and drove there each day. Whilst driving we'd unpick all the parts from the epic works of 'November Rain', 'Hotel California' and 'Champagne Supernova'. A rock band with a key-change AND duelling guitar solos in 2021? You got it!
We blew up an amp that belonged to The Kinks
When it came to recording, I called in all the favours I had with folks over the years, one being with a chap that used to be an engineer at Konk and for Jimmy Page, who happened to own a bunch of gear belonging to the Kinks and Led Zeppelin. I borrowed a Rosewood Fender Tele from the 70s (that I had to insure for 30k) and a Vox AC30 that belonged to Ray Davies, that I subsequently put a bunch of fuzz pedals through and blew the thing up. Thanks, Steve! Sorry, Steve! I guess we really are a rock and indeed, roll outfit, eh?
Cheap Meat Book Club
Reading books is cool. Going back and checking over the lyrics for the album I was reminded of all the books that I read, do rock bands have book clubs? We're starting one. First assignment? Check out Don DeLillo's White Noise, Miranda July's The First Bad Man and David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. (which got me kicked out of another book club, I guess I'm the Tommy Lee of the 00s.) Lines and ideas from those books have all snuck their way into the lyrics through the album. See me for more homework. There's a song that didn't make the album that I actually got approval from David Foster Wallace's estate to use a line as a lyric, very cool. Maybe we'll release it one day.
Bowling with Bob Mould
One of the best and strangest gigs we ever played was when Bob Mould asked us to support him at Brooklyn Bowl (RIP). We got to drive into the O2 Arena in our VW Golf, bass drum kit firmly on my lap. And park next to two HUGE sleeper coaches that belonged to All Time Low. We then got introduced to Bob Mould who then said, "Nice to meet you guys, I'm off to go bowling", and then preceded to watch Hüsker Dü legend smash some strikes. Pretty surreal. THEN on the way out, some All Time Low fans thought we were roadies and were sorely disappointed when we didn't have knowledge of the afterparty. Nor did they want to buy any of our remaining merch. Gutted.
Van Halen are the greatest rock band of all time. And losing EVH in 2020 absolutely broke my heart. In 2015 I flew to Toronto and spent four figures on a ticket so I could be front row and see my Hero Eddie Van Halen. I dreamt that night that my teeth fell out. According to the internet, that means a significant life moment had occurred, I don't believe in that nonsense, but I do believe in the power of the mighty Van Halen. I have a (bizarrely) semi-successful podcast about Van Halen. My fandom stretches so much that I wrote a love song about the Late Eddie Van Halen and his now ex-wife Valerie Bertillini. I was listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco at the time. I always want to write these serious, cool, indie rock songs that end up as big dumb pop ones instead. However, the fact that I've been able to write a love song comparing it to the allegiances of David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar apparently puts me in line for a Pulitzer! Sorry! I don't make the rules!
Taken from the February 2021 issue of Upset. Cheap Meat's debut album 'People Are The Worst' is out 29th January.
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