Despite what some may think, and what some radio stations would like listeners to believe, the local music scene is not simply made up of contrived Aussie hip hop - alongside poor rhymes and poorer beats, there’s actually one or two bands that can not only play instruments, but play them well.
Bringing forth a blend of 70’s inspired folk/ pop/rock, Adelaide band Leader Cheetah spent much of 2009 living the dream of backseat drivers and roadside diners, as they travel the county in support of their debut album, Sunspot Letters.
Set to steal a few more hearts at The Annandale later this week, lead singer Dan Crannitch tells us what’s going down for these rad newbies on the scene.
How did Leader Cheetah come about?
The band came about through the demise of my and my brother’s previous band. I had written a few songs with a more straight up melodic approach and felt like it was time to start something fresh. So about two and a half years ago, I approached my friend Dan Pash, whose guitar playing I had been a fan of for years, and also my old friend Mark Harding, who I knew also as an incredibly talented musician in his own right. We started rehearsing and Leader Cheetah was born.
Your sound has a very Neil Young-esque vibe – would you consider the musicians of his era to be a big influence on the band?
Yes in the sense that we're all huge fans of timeless melodies and are suckers for nostalgia. We love everything from Neil to The Byrds to Lee Hazelwood, Love and the 13th Floor Elevators, Gram and Townes, Gene Clarke. It was an amazing time in music history.
If Leader Cheetah were to be the bastard love child of two bands, who would those bands be?
It's hard to answer a question like that without sounding like you have tickets on yourself, but other people have referenced Interpol and Neil Young's rockier stuff with Crazy Horse as comparisons. I think that sounds pretty interesting really.
You guys are originally from Adelaide, a city that doesn’t have quite the same reputation for music as Sydney or Melbourne – how would you describe the local scene?
I think for its population Adelaide has had and still has, some amazing bands. I think people don’t realise that dudes like Paul Kelly and Barnesy are from South Australia, and even though there haven't been many bands from here that have come close to that kind of success, we still have a pretty great and supportive scene down here. With great bands such as Clue to Calo, Thunderclaw, Like Leaves, Hit the Jackpot, No Thru Road and The Weevils playing around town often, I think we can be quite spoilt for choice!
Your debut album, Sunspot Letters was released earlier this year. How did you find the recording process?
We recorded the whole thing in under a week so the actual recording process was very organic and easy. The mixing took a bit longer because our producer (Kramer, an American producer best known for his work with Galaxie 500, Low and Urge Overkills version of Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon) was mixing it back in the States and sending us mixes, which of course we all argued about for a while. Nothing too dramatic though.
What has the reaction to the album been like so far?
The reaction to the album's been pretty great really. We were a bit shocked when Triple J decided to make it feature album the week it was coming out, that helped us a great deal. And most of the reviews have been kind, and some key people we admire are into it. So yeah, we're very happy with the reaction.
The past 12 months have been pretty full on for the band, touring with The Middle East and Liam Finn, and of course playing Splendour. What’s been the highlight?
Splendour was a huge highlight for me. It was just such a great weekend and I was really happy with our set. But one of the greatest highlights this year is the amount of truly great people we have met and become friends with. From Liam Finn and E.J to the great guys from the Middle East, Cloud Control, Decoder Ring, Dappled Cities, Devoted Few, Holly Throsby and Wagons. Plus all our great friends at our label Spunk and of course our new hero BT from Love Police! There really are far too many to name.
You’re about to start recording the follow up album to Sunspot – are there likely to be any surprises for fans?
I hope so. A lot of the songs are maybe a little more direct then the first album but anything could happen once we get into the studio as far as additional instrumentation is concerned. I'm pretty excited about the new songs, so it's going to be tricky narrowing it down when it comes to recording. But I can’t wait to start. It won’t be till early next year I’d say though, we start demo-ing early December.
Looking ahead, what does the next 12 months hold for Leader Cheetah?
Fingers crossed it holds us going overseas to share our wares and tour as much as possible. We'll also be recording the next album in the next six months or so, so it should definitely be a busy one!
Leader Cheetah plays The Annandale on Friday and Saturday Night with Cloud Control. For more information, click here.
words: Jacqueline Flint