LALA LALA, IAN SWEET
Wed, April 5, 2017
Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
This event is 16 and overhttp://www.valleybarphx.com/event/1413833/
Today things look a little different from the band's early days back in 2014 when they were associated with much-loved Cali imprint Burger Records (who put out their intoxicating debut Haxel Princess) and Suicide Squeeze (who released the Had Ten Dollaz 7-inch). Back then, they were born as a different trio, featuring Hannah Uribe and Sean Redman who have since both moved onto other artistic pursuits.
Now bolstering Clem's vision is the loud-in-every-way-possible drummer Tabor Allen and the level-headed but bad-ass, multi-instrumentalist Sasami Ashworth who plays synths and notably French Horn (Clem is still scheming on how to incorporate that into Cherry Glazerr's sound). The first time the new trio all jammed together minds were blown. "My world was rocked," recalls Clem. "I'd never played with someone who was technically that good before. It made me think, Man I gotta really step my shit up!"
On Apocalipstick the band worked with "rock'n'roll wizard" Joe Chicarelli [White Stripes, The Shins, The Strokes] and Carlos de la Garza [Bleached, M83, Tegan and Sara]. Understandably the band felt a sense of vulnerability when laying themselves bare to Joe, a producer they had so much respect for. Dispelling her own sense of ego was an added hurdle for Clem, but it allowed for their greatest risk-taking as a band yet and has paid off exponentially. "I didn't even smoke weed during pre-production because I didn't wanna disappoint Joe. I didn't wanna get in trouble!" laughs Clem. She adds, "Making a record is such a spiritual thing. You laugh, you cry, you're miserable and the happiest you'll ever be." Tabor chimes in with typically comedy drummer timing, "It was so much simpler than that for me. Just, 'These drums sound sick."
The band's newfound self-discipline and motivation has evolved Cherry Glazerr into a wildly complex, hugely guitar heavy, and unapologetically loud machine. "People may be shocked by the jump in our sound," says Sasami, eager to establish that this record isn't intended to be some fancy statement about reaching their pinnacle. It was simply an opportunity they couldn't turn down. Clem has since learned how to quit focusing her attention on the fans or wider critical response. "There was a time when I just couldn't write songs because of that. You can't do that," she says. "You can't be emotionally free if you're pandering to anyone. Serving the music is the one and only thing that matters." That's hard when you have people telling you what to do all the time.
"Comedy in music is extremely important to me because humour is all we have as human beings," Clem adds. The jests are particularly strong on the disgustingly catchy track 'Trash People' – it's quite literal in its self-deprecation levels. "That's a fun song about how I have dirty fucking habits," says Clem. "It's about being road rats, nasty ass, dirty fuckers. That's how I like to live." 'Instagratification' is a tongue-in-cheek musing on social media narcissism, which the band admit to feeding off. Sasami notes that women are shamed so much more often for their posts: "Who the fuck cares? If you wanna post a photo of your pussy go for it! The ultimate white privilege is sweating the small shit, judging people for things that don't matter."
When it comes to sweating the major shit, Cherry Glazerr live like they want to see others live. They don't want to preach certain politics, they'd rather hold court for an open discourse. The subject of equality among the sexes, however, holds a special, unavoidable place for Clem, torchbearer for feminism in its raddest forms. That's so key to her aesthetic that it's the opening sentiment of Apocalipstick via the anthemic, disaster-laden 'Told You I'd Be With The Guys'. The song documents Clem's realization that she needed to establish solidarity with other women and stop being a "lone wolf". "Sexism is so ingrained in me, I can often feel that men are the only ones who can help me socially, economically. The most important thing in my life is that I've realized I need to work for solidarity. That song's both hopeful and dismal!" she laughs. Clem still feels the constant need to prove herself. "Women work from behind their oppression. In order to make good art you need to be emotionally free and sadly, not a lot of women are able to do that. That always puts a fire under my ass."
frequently toured the U.S. since forming two years ago. Abby, Lillie,
& Karla like skating, sleeping, and discos. Their debut full length
Sleepyhead was released digitally earlier this year and is being
released on cassette via the label Manic Static this March.
IAN SWEET started in 2014 with a string of text messages. Medford was a few days away from embarking on her first tour when the driver and drummer she recruited cancelled. Medford sent IAN SWEET drummer Tim Cheney -- whom she barely knew -- a series of desperate messages, asking if he knew how to drum and whether or not he would be willing to take two weeks off of life to go on tour. Cheney responded soon after with a simple: "Yes."
Medford and Cheney's friendship evolved from their time spent on the road into something that she describes as intuitive, telepathic. At the time, Medford had been performing solo under the moniker IAN -- in honor of the nickname her skater friends gave her in high school -- and put out a self-recorded EP titled Have You Ever Loved Anything This Much. That year, she and Cheney enlisted bassist Damien Scalise, and IAN SWEET became a trio. Medford describes Cheney and Scalise as polar opposites that compliment one another; two charged forces that she mediates, forming a platonic balance that brought Medford stability at a time when she didn't have any.
While she was writing Shapeshifter, Medford's life was in turmoil. She ended an emotionally abusive relationship in Boston, graduated from Berklee College of Music, and briefly moved home to the San Fernando Valley, thinking she would stay there. Medford was unsure of the band's future and suffering from a severe, undiagnosed panic disorder. When she returned to Boston to record the album in July of 2015 alongside Cheney and Scalise, Medford was reminded of everything she'd hoped to escape after graduation. She felt stagnant; trudging through a quicksand made up of heartbreak and severe depression, a process she references on Shapeshifter stand-out "Slime Time Live."
That's one of many lighthearted, nostalgic references on the album that subvert the pain beneath. Like its title suggests, most of the songs on Shapeshifter don't settle in a particular scene so much as they delve into a sensibility. Whether Medford's singing about Slime Time Live, eating ice cream in bed on "All Skaters Go To Heaven," or honoring her favorite athlete Michael Jordan on "#23," Medford displaces loneliness by falling in love with the small things that make her happy; like skateboarding, basketball, candy, and her preferred footwear: Crocs.
Accompanied by Cheney and Scalise's playful instrumentation, Shapeshifter becomes a celebratory purging, an album that finds humor in self-deprecation and vice. IAN SWEET's debut interrogates capital-e Existence through a candy-coated lens, their mathy precision scaffolding the chaos of Medford's personal neurosis and turning those anxieties into something hook-laden and relatable.
And though the narrative of Shapeshifter clings to an ex-lover, the yearning felt on this album isn't directed at a particular individual so much as it's turned inward.
"You know the feeling. When you really like someone, you forget to do anything for yourself, you forget all of the things that gave you your shape," Medford says. "The things that form your absolute."
On Shapeshifter, IAN SWEET prove that there is no one absolute; just the ease that comes with knowing everything will be OK as long as you hold tight to the pocket-sized things in life that bring happiness while you watch the rest of your world fall apart in slow-motion.
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