Staff Cheryl


Senior Staff Writer


Cheryl's last content update – Oct. 6, 2015, 2:19 p.m.

Fat Wreck
Cheryl's most recent reviews
Skepticism  - Ordeal album cover


Ordeal, 2015

9.0 / 10

Recording a live album isn’t a new concept, but for Skepticism, who don’t do anything by halves, recording their brand new album completely live, was certainly a new experience. The ...

Locrian - Infinite Dissolution album cover


Infinite Dissolution, 2015

8.5 / 10

Locrian’s approach to metal is to disassemble the core structures, push them further away from their crude beginnings and delve into building them back up again into towering walls of ...

Sick/Tired - Dissolution  album cover


Dissolution , 2014

7.5 / 10
200 Words Or Less

Sick/Tired don’t mess about. They’re angry, and they want you to know about it and they do so via the medium of fast, raw grindcore. The Chicago band pound through ...

Frog - Kind Of Blah album cover


Kind Of Blah, 2015

7.5 / 10

Frog’s second LP Kind of Blah is one that swings from highs to lows, from poppy pep to slowed down sadness and it encompasses every other emotion within it’s short ...

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Cheryl's most recent features
City States

One Question Interviews City States

Posted Sept. 30, 2015, 12:16 a.m.

Joel (City States) SPB: How do you find the time to work on so many projects and do your regular day job (if you have one)?  Joel: At the risk ...


One Question Interviews Northumbria

Posted April 6, 2015, 3:06 a.m.

Dorian Williamson (Northumbria) SPB: You recorded your first album in a church - what was it about the space that appealed to you and what kind of spaces would you like ...


One Question Interviews Rome

Posted April 6, 2015, 3:03 a.m.

Jerome Reuter (Rome) SPB: You're playing some anniversary shows this year and visiting some interesting places - How did you decide which countries to play in?  Reuter: I have to ...

AMSG 666

One Question Interviews AMSG 666

Posted Jan. 11, 2015, 11:29 p.m.

AngelFukk Witchhammer (AMSG 666) SPB: How important is Satan to you/the band and what does that belief mean to you? Witchhammer: Luciferianism for me is breathing /living each day ...

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1QI: Undesirable People, Unsane, City States, Wonk Unit

Bands 1QI: Undesirable People, Unsane, City States, Wonk Unit

Posted Oct. 6, 2015, 2:19 p.m.

Welcome to our almost daily quickie Q&A feature: One Question Interviews. Follow us at facebook & twitter and we'll post an interview four days each week, typically every Monday-Thursday ...

Jon Lebiecki (Undesirable People)
SPB: Winter touring: yes or now (and why/got any stories)?
Jon: Yes, absolutely. Simply because we’ve got a sick record coming out on 12” that we need entire world to hear. I’m not quite sure where we are headed yet because we don’t have a booking agent. I think the plan is to head down south. The Midwest sucks in the winter, especially with all of this global warming shit going on. Who knows?! We'll figure it out. 
By the way, that record is called Eternal Vision of a Blind Future and you can preorder right now from Hopefully you’ve heard of it already. But probably not because (A.) most major online media outlets would rather blind you with some bullshit news of some old band (Blink 182) doing the same thing over and over again & (B.) We are releasing it independently.
Dave Curran (Pigs, Unsane)
SPB: What’s the first thing you do when you get home after a long tour?
Dave: I curl up in fetal position and sleep for 5 days.  Then I go on tour again...
Joel (City States)
SPB; How do you find the time to work on so many projects and do your regular day job (if you have one)? 
Joel: At the risk of sounding overly technical, a lot of my productivity just comes down to really rigorous planning and time management. I do have a full-time job as an art director for a great agency in downtown Chicago, which makes it hard to stay on track as a songwriter in my spare time. So when I'm free and available (in other words, not asleep or at work), I kind of approach my music-making like I do my design career: I have a plan before I sit down. I tend to have a playlist handy—featuring the songs of other artists'—in case I'm stuck and need a source of inspiration, and if a composition isn't working I simply move on and try writing something else. 
That's not the whole story, however. Though I now have four threads of music I work on—City States, Avvenir, Contretemps, and Modal Voices—which has resulted in lots of output in the last 18 months, I started my music career with 10-year slog where I really struggled to create. Case in point: between 2006-2013 I only released nineteen songs! I was slow, self-critical, prone to bouts of crippling indecision and, as a result, not a lot got done. By comparison, since May 2014 when I released the first City States LP, Geography, I've put 22 songs into the world, and by this time next year I will have released over 40. The truth is, writing a good song is hard, learning to be efficient is hard, overcoming your own personal hangups is hard. With that, I'll offer a piece of unsolicited advice to anyone who is having a rough go as a songwriter: take your time, learn your craft, have a plan, and find a way to remove yourself from the burden of self-censure.
Alex (Wonk Unit)
SPB; How do you describe the band’s changes from Day One into what it is today, sound-wise?
Alex: The biggest change is a total reversal in songwriting style. For our first two albums I was writing lyrics to music, some pretty crazy technical stuff. These days (for the last two records) I'm writing music to poems which were already out there independently. It generally means musically our songs are simpler but delivered with more lyrical twists. 
We began as a 3 piece but started experimenting with different stuff by the 3td album (Muffy), adding cellos and trombone. Our current line-up includes Hammond organ.

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1QI: Boysetsfire, Axis, Caustic Casanova, Neon Shudder

Bands 1QI: Boysetsfire, Axis, Caustic Casanova, Neon Shudder

Posted Sept. 25, 2015, 8:40 a.m.

Welcome to our almost daily quickie Q&A feature: One Question Interviews. Follow us at facebook & twitter and we'll post an interview four days each week, typically every Monday-Thursday ...

Nathan Gray (solo, Boysetsfire)
SPB: Can you like a musician whose politics you disagree with?
Nathan: Can you? Yes. Should you? Well, that is up to the individual. There are many hymns that I rather enjoy, but do not agree at all with the content. I am also not a huge fan of limiting ones musical experience due to questionable lyrics or ideology. What would the world of classical music be without the brilliance of Richard Wagner, and how would we possibly even have envisioned the amazing forward thinking paths that Black Metal has taken, if we were not first inspired to take the golden bits, and leave the shit. In short, "you could learn a lot from a dummy."
Tyler Forsythe (Axis)SPB: What was your first musical instrument? How old were you?Tyler: I started playing bass when I was 11 and it was the first instrument I had ever really had an interest in playing. My older brother had already been playing for years so it was somewhat easy for me to feel motivated to learn. He brought home an old P-bass copy that got left at his practice space along with his old amp for me to plug into. The next few years of my life were spent not really doing or caring about anything else because all I wanted to do was learn how to play my favorite Rage Against the Machine and Blink-182 records from front to back.
Francis Beringer (Caustic Casanova)
SPB: Do you get nerves before you play a show?
Francis: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I used to get nerves before every show, now it happens only once in a while. There are different kinds of nerves - the "no one is here" nerves, the "there are so many people here" nerves, and the "the microphones/monitors in this venue do not work" nerves. For me, those nerves manifest themselves in tightness and stiffness in the hands for the first song, but that goes away once we get going.  When we're on tour and have been playing for weeks I rarely get phased by anything or nervous before a show.
Neon Shudder
SPB: It seems like there would be a temptation when working within the world of cyberpunk to make soundtracks to situations presented in pre-existing games, books, or movies.  Do you find yourself doing that, or do you try to represent your own imaginary worlds and situations with your music?  
Neon Shudder: The name "neon shudder" was actually taken from William Gibson's novel Neuromancer ("Beyond the neon shudder of Ninsei" was the line) so right from the start I was definitely rooted in cyberpunk media/imagery with my vision for this project. If you go all the way back to my first EP the track “neurohexazine” was greatly inspired by Michael McCann's gorgeous Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack. Listening to his soundtrack, and artists like Danger and Buck-Tick, I knew I wanted to do something that had a real “cyberpunk” feel to it, but I didn't want to base my work around other people's creative endeavors.
I didn't specifically set out to make a “soundtrack” to anything, but it was always in the back of my mind to explore something original musically. For a long time I had a cyberpunk/post-cyberpunk story I wanted to write but had no idea how to really execute it.  Eventually when deciding what to do with my first full-length album I realized this could be my outlet for that story. I'm currently working on an EP titled O-8015that will be released on 10/13/15 centered around a corrupted android who becomes dangerously obsessed with their human counterpart, but not in a way you'd expect.  Each of the 5 songs will have corresponding art and story components that come with the EP. After that I'll be working on Cadence, a full-length 20 track album with matching chapters and art just like O-8015. I don't want to give away much of the plot just yet but it explores massive fictional city of Cadence and people inhabiting it. It will be set in the same universe as the O-8015 EP. Seeing as my music is mostly instrumental I'm hoping this can add more substance to my work beyond dark synths and pounding drums.
The real temptation with the music is to stay safely within the boundaries of synthwave. I really enjoy the genre but it's easy to get caught up wanting to be the next Perturbator or Carpenter Brut: to find something that works and keep repeating the formula. I definitely admire those artists a great deal but I've been trying to slowly push away from the genre and do something a little different, and a little more “me.” Hopefully this really shows in O-8015 and Cadence.

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1QI: STATS, Extinction A.D., The Pests, Sophie Lillienne

Bands 1QI: STATS, Extinction A.D., The Pests, Sophie Lillienne

Posted Sept. 16, 2015, 12:54 p.m.

Welcome to our almost daily quickie Q&A feature: One Question Interviews. Follow us at facebook & twitter and we'll post an interview four days each week, typically every Monday-Thursday ...

Hank Shteamer (STATS – drums)
SPB: What do you remember of playing your first live show (with STATS)?
Hank: STATS started life as a band called Stay Fucked. The personnel was me, STATS guitarist Joe Petrucelli, and Tom Kelly (a dear friend, both then and now) on bass. Together, we came up with some of the core ideas that have carried through to the current incarnation of the band heard on the new STATS album, Mercy. Absurd humor and inside-joke-fueled riffing has always been a big part of the Stay Fucked / STATS M.O., and in 2002, when we were preparing to play out as Stay Fucked for the first time, I remember plenty of goofball brainstorming re: what we could do to make the show special. Not sure where this concept came from, but Tom floated the idea of us all wearing white pants. (Later, we were interviewed on an NYC public-access TV show called “Goomi Express;” Tom told the host, Blake Madden, something to the effect of, "If you wear a white shirt, that's one thing. But if you wear a white shirt and white pants, that's something else altogether.") At the time, we'd also for some reason become fixated on the idea of the Arnold Palmer, the half-lemonade, half-iced-tea beverage named after the golfing great.
I believe that the first Stay Fucked show, or one of the first, took place in the basement of the West End, a now-closed bar/grill at 114th and Broadway that was an integral part of campus life at Columbia University, where Joe, Tom, and I met as students in 1999. (The three of us had previously played together in Super Lucky Cat, an indie-rock band led by our mutual friend Zack, and some of SLC's most memorable shows were also at the West End.) We made good on our plan and wore matching white pants. We also brought a chair onstage, situated in between Joe and Tom, and set atop it a pitcher of iced Arnold Palmer(s), along with some plastic cups. I believe there was a photo of Palmer himself involved in the display, or perhaps we bought a can of the Arizona Iced Tea version, which features Palmer's portrait. I think the idea was that listeners could, at any point they wished, stroll up during our set and help themselves to an Arnie. I don't recall if anyone took us up on the offer, but I remember feeling like the Arnold Palmer display was a unique and charming gesture, especially in light of the loud, abrasive, at times willfully obnoxious music we were playing.
Rick Jimenez (Extinction A.D.)
SPB: Is there any specific restaurant you make a point to hit when you go on tour?
Rick: Kuma's Corner in Chicago. Metal themed burger bar with the occasional wrestling mural...Can't go wrong. My only gripe is that the Metallica burger isn't my favorite. Hopefully in time they'll be an Extinction A.D. burger which would be grilled chicken with chocolate protein powder served between two Auntie Anne's pretzels.
Mazz-1 (The Pests)
SPB: What was the first punk show you attended?
Mazz-1: If I remember correctly, the first one I attended was one that I played at 15 years old. I don't even remember the name of my band at the time. We opened for New Jersey band Catch 22 at Storyville in New Orleans French Quarter.
My very next one however was the one to remember. The Ramones played at Tipitina's. Dee Dee was still with them. I’ll never forget that one! Both of those are memories that I cherish, Storyville is gone but Tipitina’s is still open for business. Storyville, named after the famed red-light district from the 1800's, housed many awesome touring acts including the afterparty for the first Lollapalooza. It was sold to (ugh) Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and was recently closed again, I believe. It was on Decatur Street which was at the time a scene oriented, locals only area. Margaritaville was definitely a harbinger of change. Any given night on Decatur had a random array of celebrities. Marilyn Manson was a regular and there was a famous fight with Roger McDowell, Vince Vaughn (I believe, my memory is fuzzy) and a doorman. I had seen the Ramones several times at Tipitina's, actually. The smoke machines and the intro from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, would send chills because you knew the place was about to go nuts. “Durango ‘95” would start, so would the fists and you better look out. That crowd took no prisoners. You eventually got used to the set list and after “Psycho Therapy,” hold on because “Warthog” was next. To this day, I never experienced a crowd as rough as that. Dash Rip Rock opened for them and I was a DRR fan ever since. I believe they were the birth of "Southern punk" for sure.
New Orleans was full of venues that had the classic bands. I was too young to attend, but I'll say my first flyer that I tore down and kept was for Samhain's Initium tour. The flyer touted them as "from the ashes of the Misfits." That was my introduction to Misfits, hadn't heard of them before then. I was probably 5 years old when the Misfits played there. That show was at Jed's. Around the same time, Black Flag did two shows on the same day there. The Dead Kennedys played at the 601 Club down the street from Tip's. Again, I was just a kid taking flyers at the time, but the city was heavy in the scene and the local scene was just as happening. All of the above mentioned clubs except Tip's are gone and there were probably 20 more that I could ramble about, but they are all gone the way of gentrification, noise ordinances, fixie bikes and overpriced artisan shit. Wait a minute, sounds just like my adopted home of NYC now too. 
Vezzo (Sophie Lillienne)
SPB: Maybe it says something about my musical preconceptions, but I expected something entirely different when I first listened to Sophie Lillienne.  Where did the band name come from - is it just me who was entirely confused by it at first?”
Vezzo: Well… a lot of people is confused at first by the name of the project: Sophie Lillienne.
A lot of times people think about a solo singer and in some ways I like it because, when I began with this project, I was looking for a name that sounded in some way sensual—suggesting the main features involved in this kind of music (trip-hop is like a woman). So I decided to join two typically French names: Sophie and Lillienne. Frenche language is always sensual!

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1QI: Pears, Boilerman, Loud Boyz, Stern

Bands 1QI: Pears, Boilerman, Loud Boyz, Stern

Posted Sept. 1, 2015, 1:01 p.m.

Welcome to our almost daily quickie Q&A feature: One Question Interviews. Follow us at facebook & twitter and we'll post an interview four days each week, typically every Monday-Thursday ...

Zach (Pears)
SPB: Who is the best band happening in New Orleans right now?
Zach: The best band happening in Nola right now is a country band called Yes Ma'am. They busk on Royal Street and are planning on touring in the fall if they can get enough money together to buy a limousine. Yes, this is real life. They love Forest Gump. They're good friends of ours. They have a new record out which you can buy here . Great vocal arrangements, great songs, great people. 
Jim (Boilerman)
SPB: What’s with the numerical song titles on the EP? 
Jim: The deal with the numerical song titles for the 10" is two-fold.  First, all the songs on the record deal with really similar subject matter -- they're all more or less about different facets of existential anxiety. I also feel like the songs flow together in such a way that the record is more of a singular piece than it is a sequence of multiple separate pieces, so the numbering is meant to imply the fact that the tunes are smaller parts of the same whole. The cover song obviously threw that whole thing off a bit, but I wanted to keep it anyway. Plus, thinking of song titles is the pits.
Kenny Brown (Loud Boyz-vocals)
SPB: How has your musical taste evolved over the years? Do you think your “high school self” would appreciate the music you make now?
Kenny: I'm pretty much exactly the same! Loud Boyz is derived from the same punk bands we grew up listening to in high school. Before this band I was in a Dinosaur Jr style rock band and then a chillwave band, which was cool, but not something I ever thought I'd be into playing. Loud Boyz is where everything comes full circle for me, it's bringing me back to what I fell in love with when I was 16. Of course over the years I have found influence in a lot of new music, especially since moving to DC when I was 18. I always loved Bad Brains and Minor Threat, but living here has given me a newfound respect for what DC was/is about. Although, I listen to a lot of r&b now so I'm sure that my young self would be confused by that, otherwise I'm pretty much the exact same person, minus the metalcore breakdowns! 
Loud Boyz actually played a show earlier this month with Darkest Hour and Dead to Fall, who were two of my favorite bands when I was about 15. Between that show, playing with Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg, and opening for Buzzcocks, I'd say that my high school self wouldn't believe what I'm doing at 28!
Chuck Stern (Stern)
SPB: How do you draw the line between taking influence and mimicking?
Chuck: I think of this as reverential versus referential. Influences are what shape us. They're crucial, but I've never really wanted to cover anyone else's songs or duplicate a specific style. Mimicry falls flat and is often reduced to what it isn't. If you revere something, you can let it ooze out organically, you can weave it into your tapestry and create something larger. But that depends on what you have to say, because if the point of your music is to genre-hop, well, that's lame.
On a side note, I've always been obsessed with clones and rip-offs (whether bands, brands, or movies). I just choose to avoid that approach.

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Cheryl's most recent blogposts

Caïna @ The Unicorn

Posted Sept. 8, 2013, 3:25 p.m. by Cheryl

Caïna, Hordes, Barshasketh The Unicorn London, UK September 6 2013 We've been talking a lot about the rebirth of Caïna of late and we'll soon have a review of the new ...

Winterfylleth @ The Black Heart

Posted Jan. 29, 2013, 7:50 a.m. by Cheryl

The tiny Black Heart in Camden holds court to an evening of droned out sludge, traditional heavy doom, and more English black metal than you can shake a stick at ...

Show Review: The Great Old Ones w/Terzij de Horde and Oblivionized @ The Unicorn, London (January 5th 2013)

Posted Jan. 9, 2013, 12:17 a.m. by Cheryl

The Unicorn is suffering from a severe lack of air con tonight, the tension in the air made all the palpable by the insane levels of heat and the anticipation ...

Show Review: Neurosis and Godflesh @ Kentish Town Forum, London (December 2nd 2012)

Posted Dec. 8, 2012, 8:39 p.m. by Cheryl

The view that Scene Point Blank has been afforded for tonight’s performance is beautiful, and the sea of heads below on the floor is all the more astonishing seen from ...

Cheryl's bio

"Without music, life would be a mistake."
Writer. SPB Social Media Contributor. 

I also like coffee and film and cats. 

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Cheryl's SPB contributions

107 reviews 23 features 117 news posts 5 blogposts
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