Delivered via their website quite nearly half a year before its availability in corporeal form, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies dropped their first devirginizing LP in seven years. Available 10 June on your earth CDs, it has seen wide distribution over a number of digital channels long before the arrival in stores. Titled Susquehanna, the Daddies deliver a decidedly DIY effort with this self-release, having departed from Mojo along with many of their skankin’ and swingin’ fad contemporaries at the turn of the century.
Opening with six tracks of six completely different musical styles, Susquehanna weighs in at a hefty 46 minutes of multi-genre mastery. Fans of the Zoot Suit Riot compilation of Daddies swing hits will no doubt be disappointed, but long time Cherry Poppin’ fans will be rewarded for their wait with an unapologetically unmainstream diverse record. With instant skank inducers “Hammerblow” and “Hi and Lo” intermingled with flamenco stilletto stompers “Roseanne” and “Arrancate,” this new album could be called a return to form if the argument that they ever left could be rightly levied.
Steve Perry, frontman and principal songwriter for the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, took some time out of the harried craziness of putting out a record on one’s own to talk with us about Susquehanna. Below is part one of our two part talk with the man who made it through the Swing Revival without selling his soul.
Dream Not Of Today: It’s been seven years since Soul Caddy and the departure from Mojo. On the new site you mention much about “getting this flying fortress of the ground” and more about this record’s DIY approach. How did this record get made?
Steve Perry: It was a long process where I tried to coax the band into rehearsing new tunes. We had been happy just playing occasionally, and the time commitment was small, so there was inertia that was more than expected. Eventually everybody got on board and we recorded some tunes.
(d)N0t: There are tracks that sound like they were recorded differently than others. What was the recording process like? Multiple studios involved? How long did it take?
SP: The Daddies have always taken a fresh approach to every single track, so we kind of treat each song as a separate entity, right down to mikes on the drum kit. Also some of the tracks I started in my basement and had the band overdub their parts. Money was a factor in a lot of this. It took at least a year and a half because I couldn’t get consecutive days studio time and the band often was often unavailable. Basically it was recorded at my home studio and at Gung Ho in Eugene.
(d)N0t: The opener of Susquehanna will be surprising to anyone who first heard Cherry Poppin’ Daddies during the swing revival. The latin bootyshaker “Bust Out” sounds more like the start of an Ozomatli record than the swingers who scored a hit with “Zoot Suit Riot.” The record follows with a swank rockabilly tune, reggae, and ska before a lindy hopper big band song. Are you trying to say something with this sequence?
SP: Well, many of our records have this kind of kaleidoscopic sequencing so it’s not a new thing for us, but for some reason the way we make records is problematic to so many “critics.” I have yet to hear a coherent rationale for the criticism we get for doing things this way. I feel like it makes for a more interesting record rather than less. Obviously it rubs many people who write about music the wrong way. We live in a time when commercial safety and ballslessness are praised and critics feel the need to snarkily defend the values of the status quo. Oh, wait a minute… it’s just like every other time in history.
(d)N0t: One of my favorite ways to get a handle on the character of a record store’s curation is where they put the Daddies records. eMusic has Susquehanna listed as “jazz.” Amoeba Records in SF put it in the ska section. A Virgin megastore has it in its dusty swing section. Were you the owner of a record store, where would you put your new album?
SP: Rock, I guess.
(d)N0t: Next year marks two decades of Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. What’s your state of mind when you pause to reflect on twenty years of this band?
SP: I am happy to have been able to work with the guys that I have worked with over the years. I am proud that we resisted the temptation to do things the easy way, proud of our restless defiance. Accepting of the oblivion that this attitude engenders.
Part two tomorrow at ten.