Cheatahs

Multinational Superfuzz

Aug 29, 2013 Issue #46 - June/July 2013 - Charli XCX
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The searing, guitar-driven songs from London's Cheatahs bury pop melodies under bright layers of distortion. Their sound has earned them comparisons to acts such as Swervedriver and Ride, but don't call them a shoegaze band.

"The shoegaze thing? I don't really get it," says singer/guitarist Nathan Hewitt, laughing. "I don't even know what it means. The reverby, washy stuff, there are elements of that, I suppose. We're all just about trying to get good melodies across, and we like doing it in a really loud, sunny way."

Hewitt cites the '80s and '90s as influences, and says he never listened to much British shoegaze growing up in rural Canada. Hewitt moved to London at the age of 20, fulfilling a desire to live in Europe he'd had since he was a teenager. It was there that he joined noise-pop trio Male Bonding as a touring guitarist and did some very rudimentary songwriting for a project that would eventually evolve into Cheatahs.

"Band names are pretty silly, aren't they?" he says, referring to the intentional misspelling of their name. "[Cheatahs] looked cool on paper, that's about it. It wasn't even a band then, it was my solo thing. I was playing with people who were in other bands. We were kind of cheating on our regular bands with this one."

Though based out of the U.K., only one member of the bandguitarist James Wignallis a British native. The multinational four-piece is rounded out by two more expats: drummer Marc Raue and bassist Dean Reid, who hail from Germany and the U.S., respectively.

"Everybody moved to London for kind of the same reasons," says Hewitt. "You know, to live in the big city, whatever. We all liked the same music, so we'd meet each other at gigs and run into each other that way."

Cheatahs recently spent six weeks touring in support of Extended Plays, which was issued earlier this spring and collects their first two out-of-print EPs. The rest of their time has been spent recording and mixing new material for a debut full-length to be released in early 2014.

"There are a couple darker songs on the record, and there's a bit more punk," says Hewitt. "There's also an instrumental and some weirder songs. It's taking the shape of what we describe as our sound, but also has some other, new sounds added."

The new record promises to mix a variety of styles, but Cheatahs have resisted the urge to add electronic elements to their songs. They've opted to stay true to the cranked amplifier and switched-on stompbox formula of their early EPs.

"Sometimes I think that for certain parts it might be fun to have a synth playing on top of them," says Hewitt. "But I think we've kind of [made a] conscious decision to try to get whatever sounds we want through pedals and guitars. We try to be creative in that way, so that we can play it back live. We all just really love our guitars."

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar's June/July 2013 print issue.]



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